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In-depth reviews

Suzuki S-Cross SUV - Engines, drive & performance

While the option of four-wheel drive is a positive step, the hybrid model’s automated manual is a turn-off

Carbuyer Rating

3.6 out of 5

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Engines, drive & performance Rating

3.5 out of 5

Although crossovers often have chunky styling and plastic wheel arch covers, many of them are staunchly two-wheel drive. The S-Cross backs up its looks with its AllGrip four-wheel-drive system, fitted as standard on the higher trim level. It has four drive modes: Auto, which engages all four wheels when it detects slip, Sport for improved cornering, Snow for slippery surfaces and a hardcore Lock mode, which will let you crawl over some of the toughest terrain. It’s unlikely to match a Land Rover Defender off-road but the AllGrip system will undoubtedly bring benefits and general peace-of-mind to drivers who live in rural areas.

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On the road, the ride is composed at higher speeds but a little unsettled at lower speeds. The car’s light weight improves the driving experience, with the S-Cross feeling more agile than many of its rivals.

While there isn’t a huge amount of power on offer, it does kick in relatively low in the rev range. Manual cars feel sprightly off the line and are able to make most motorway overtakes without too much fuss.

Suzuki S-Cross petrol engine

The engine choice is simple in the S-Cross, as all versions come with a 1.4-litre ‘Boosterjet’ petrol engine. It produces 127bhp, so matches the mid-range Peugeot 2008 and SEAT Ateca, and gets from 0-62mph in a respectable 9.5 seconds. The S-Cross is available with four-wheel drive on the top trim level and it doesn’t affect performance too much; 0-62mph takes 10.2 seconds. Both front and four-wheel-drive versions can be ordered with a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic gearbox.

Hybrid engine

The S-Cross’ self-charging hybrid powertrain comprises a 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine, alongside a small electric motor which together produce 113bhp. A heavier and less powerful engine setup means the S-Cross hybrid is the slowest model in the range to reach 62mph, taking a rather agonising 13.5 seconds.

What really dooms this powertrain is the automated manual transmission which comes as standard. The whole setup is painfully slow to respond and when accelerating hard – say, to enter the motorway – the whole system tends to get confused and makes the car lurch forward until the correct gear is selected. Because of this, we recommend you avoid the hybrid model, unless you really must have an automatic.

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Richard is a former editor of Carbuyer, as well as sister site DrivingElectric.com, and he's now Deputy Editor at Auto Express. Having spent a decade working in the automotive industry, he understands exactly what makes new car buyers tick.

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