Road Test: Suzuki S-Cross Hybrid
The new Suzuki S-Cross now benefits from a ‘strong’ mild hybrid system, finds Jonathan Musk.
SECTOR Small estate PRICE £23,999 FUEL 50.1mpg CO2 127g/km
Suzuki’s 1.4-litre petrol Boosterjet turbocharged engine is a true petrol-heads delight. It isn’t the most powerful, nor the most efficient. But what it lacks in specs it more than makes up for in character. Suzuki has always produced admirably sweet engines (possibly thanks to its motorbike learnings) and the latest 1.4 is no exception.
Now installed with mild hybrid technology (don’t let the “hybrid” nomenclature lead you to believe it is a full hybrid), it’s even sweeter and offers a lot of low-down torque punch that helps make it an easy and smooth drive. The mild hybrid tech consists of a small integrated starter generator (ISG) that together with a 48V lithium-ion battery only add 15 kilos to the car’s weight.
This 15 kilo penalty is more than outweighed by the system’s benefits, which include a much smoother stop-stop system than Suzuki’s older 12V mild hybrid tech, driving torque of 235Nm between 2,000-3,000rpm and consequently helps raise the fuel consumption by around 7mpg and CO2 emissions by around 25g/km – on the all-wheel drive variant.
Official specs indicate a low CO2 value of 127g/km for the two-wheel drive model, rising to 139g/km for the all-wheel drive ALLGRIP model. This means it costs £160 a year for road tax, and falls into the 28% Benefit-in-Kind company car tax bracket.
Most mild hybrid systems don’t feature highly on driving influence, whereas the Suzuki offers noticeable drag from its regenerative energy capture on deceleration and a definite electric shove when accelerating. Combined with its turbo power, the result is a willing 129hp engine that feels far superior to its paper performance of 0-62mph in 9.5 seconds onto a top speed of 118mph. Together with its slick six-speed manual gearchange, the S-Cross manages to be one of those cars that surprises with how well it drives. It’s competent and sure-footed, which is aided by reasonably adept suspension.
Trim choices include the base-level SZ4 and mid-range SZ-T, which are only available with the manual gearbox, while an SZ5 trim is available with either automatic or manual transmission. Prices range from £20,999 for the SZ4 to £27,449 for the automatic SZ5, which is notable for not sporting the mild-hybrid tech.
The car comes with a fair amount of kit as standard, though it’s nothing to write home about and it suffers from an out-dated infotainment system too. Fortunately, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto feature which allows for modern smartphone connections to replace the built-in system – and it’s needed.
Aside from this, radar brake support, hill hold control, tyre pressure monitoring and a variety of airbags all feature on the mid-range SZ-T, while niceties including LED headlamps and dual zone climate control add to the car’s versatile driving comfort.
S-Cross is an oft-overlooked model, which is a shame as its reasonably small 4.3m length and practical interior with 430 litre boot make it a versatile fleet offering.
Ultimately, the S-Cross is a decent and affordable little car with a strong implementation of a mild hybrid setup.
Mild it may be, but the S-Cross Hybrid benefits from strong improvements as a result of its electrification.
Key Fleet Model: Suzuki S-Cross SZ4 Hybrid
Strengths: Good to drive, practical interior
Weaknesses: Poor infotainment
Fleet World Star Rating