THE saying ‘anything you can do we can do better’ may sound on the optimistic side when you’re up against rivals that have already mopped up countless awards.
But such is the confidence Suzuki has in its new third generation S-Cross compact SUV, and the value for money it represents to customers, that hopes are sky high the model will prove a huge sales success.
And that’s not just with loyal fans of the Japanese brand but also families looking for a new model that combines terrific economy with generous standard kit and cutting edge safety gear.
Now into its third generation the new S-Cross, which hits UK forecourts in January, is an altogether sharper, more muscular looking vehicle than its only modestly popular predecessor.
That’s in no small part down to its raised bonnet line, piano black front grille, more angular wheel arches and smooth flowing lines that help give the car a high centre of gravity.
Add roof rails, larger headlamps plus an integrated rear spoiler and you have an S-Cross that looks every bit as attractive, and classy, as appreciably more expensive compact SUV offerings.
Just a single engine option is available in the shape of the proven 1.4-litre Boosterjet petrol unit, with the added bonus of 48V mild hybrid technology.
Suzuki makes the point that 100 per cent of its car range is now electrified compared to an industry mark of just 42 per cent.
The upshot of this in the case of the S-Cross is fuel consumption of 53.2 miles per gallon on average for front-wheel drive versions coupled with low CO2 emission figures of 120g/km.
Suzuki has also endeavoured to keep things simple with the newcomer, so buyers get a choice of just two trim grades called Motion and Ultra, neither of which are viewed as an entry level.
The emphasis is on an extremely comprehensive standard kit for both grades, to the point that there are no added cost equipment packs, nor an options bin. In fact the only option available is metallic paint at £550.
The S-Cross Motion model costs £24,999 and includes the likes of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, keyless entry and start, dual zone auto air con, heated front seats and parking sensors while Ultra spec still sits below the £30K mark at £29,799 and adds ALLGRIP four-wheel drive, leather upholstery, 17-inch alloys, a 360-degree parking camera, sat nav and a sliding panoramic sunroof.
Six-speed manual transmission is standard to both, though a six-speed automatic gearbox can be specified for £1,350.
The Japanese manufacturer sets plenty of store by its safety features, which has resulted in a lower insurance banding of group 25 for the S-Cross compared to the outgoing model.
It means an automated emergency braking system is present on both trim grades along with seven airbags, adaptive cruise control, ESP, lane departure warning, rear cross traffic alert and a blind spot monitor.
Step inside the new S-Cross and there’s an immediate appeal that’s instinctively Suzuki in that it’s familiar, straightforward and easy to use as well as feeling durable.
It doesn’t have that really solid, more premium quality of some German rivals but is perfectly acceptable and includes both a 4.2-inch colour LCD driver info display plus a seven-inch touchscreen while there’s a nine-inch infotainment set-up on Ultra models.
Suzuki engineers are really good at interior packaging, which is just as well given that this isn’t the largest car in its class. The good news is that five adults can be comfortably accommodated and the boot capacity of 430 litres is also adequate for everyday family activity.
Our test drive route was principally rural and featured a variety of country lanes and faster roads through Cheshire, Shropshire and North Wales.
The 1.4 Boosterjet is a smart choice of engine for the S-Cross in that it is reasonably lively with 127bhp of punch giving plenty of overtaking capability, otherwise the car is well balanced and stable on the road.
The steering is light, a characteristic of most Suzuki models, but positive and the S-Cross also feels pretty agile too.
Deciding between manual and automatic is down to personal choice, though there’s no doubt the value lies in the manual Motion model, a choice Suzuki believes will be made by around 65 per cent of customers.