THERE’S nothing like holding your hands up and admitting you got it wrong – first time at least.
That’s the case with Japanese brand Suzuki, which has just completed a major revamp of its compact crossover, the SX4 S-Cross.
Company chiefs were baffled by customers, many already tuned in to the attraction of models like the Swift and Vitara, visiting showrooms to check out the S-Cross, and quickly turning tail.
The feedback was telling and Suzuki’s response positive – the car needed more muscle, more aggression, greater presence.
So just three years since that original launch the brand has produced an upgraded, new look version that seems sure to match potential buyers’ expectations.
The newcomer now really looks the part with its more upright front end, bolder 10-bar vertical chrome grille, higher ground clearance and fresh design headlamps.
Add better, more efficient engines, extra safety technology and equipment along with prices starting at £14,999 and the latest Suzuki has become a serious proposition.
Leading the way is a smart dose of turbo power in the shape of the Boosterjet petrol engine first used in the Vitara S and Baleno variants.
It comes in either 1.0 or 1.4-litre displacement and packs a serious punch for a small unit in a relatively large vehicle.
The 1.0-litre is a three cylinder engine with 111PS and adequate acceleration in the S-Cross of 0-62 in 11.0 seconds, top speed of 112mph and Combined fuel consumption of 56.4mpg with emissions of 113g/km.
It’s a lively little performer that does its job effectively and returned an average figure of 48.1mpg.
A switch to the 1.4-litre variant sees the Suzuki in an even greater light. Again the performance is strong – 0-62 in 10.2 secs and a 124mph top speed – it’s just that the car completes everything that little bit more sweetly and easily.
Its official fuel figure is 49.5mpg and we returned 42 on a 135-mile route along the North Wales coast and skirting Snowdonia.
While the entry point price of £14,999 is very tempting, Suzuki doesn’t actually expect to sell many of these 1.0 SZ4 models – giving the S-Cross a realistic start of £19,499 for a 1.0 SZT.
This grade was introduced with the fleets in mind and offers appreciably more standard kit, like sat-nav, a rear parking camera, 17-inch alloys, colour touchscreen and front fog lamps.
Opt for the 1.6 diesel in this trim with two-wheel drive and you get a car that emits just 106g/km of CO2 and has the potential to return an average 68.8mpg for £20,999.
Top grade SZ5 versions get a double sliding panoramic sunroof, leather upholstery and heated front seats and if you specify ALLGRIP four-wheel drive – which can be switched to snow or sports modes while on the move – it makes the highest price car £24,349.
And that’s very competitive when set against class leaders like the Nissan Qashqai.
As for looks, well there’s no doubt the Suzuki has way more presence and character than its predecessor.
Those attractive looks apart, the new S-Cross has plenty more to recommend it – from an airy interior with ample head and legroom for three adults across the back to the large boot.
It comes with a double floor and a capacity from 430 to 875 litres, so there’s plenty of flexibility adding to some serious family appeal.
The compact crossover scene is a bear pit when it comes to securing sales but Suzuki has made the right changes at the right time – and put itself bang there in the front line.