Suzuki SX4 S-Cross SUV
"The Suzuki SX4 S-Cross is an affordable crossover that competes with models like the Nissan Qashqai and Skoda Yeti"
- Quite good fun to drive
- Frugal engines
- Cheap to buy
- Bland looks
- Poor rear legroom
- Not as spacious as rivals
It’s easy to overlook the Suzuki SX4 S-Cross, mainly because the Japanese manufacturer also sells the popular Suzuki Vitara, which is a similarly sized crossover. While the Vitara has a better-known badge, the SX-4 is a practical family car in its own right, sharing similarities with the Nissan Qashqai, Kia Sportage and Skoda Yeti.
In October 2016, the SX4 got a much-needed facelift to spruce it up, with changes to make it look tougher, and a bold chrome grille, while under the metal it received the more up-to-date ‘Boosterjet’ engines that first appeared in the Suzuki Swift. These additions have certainly helped the SX4 stay competitive and with an efficient 1.0-litre turbocharged engine under its bonnet, it can be an affordable and practical alternative to the usual suspects.
A raft of styling changes have been introduced to appeal to SUV buyers, including lifted suspension, chunky alloy wheels, new plastic cladding above the wheelarches and side skirts and even the motoring equivalent of a nose lift. It might not be to everyone’s taste, but the revised SX4 definitely has a stronger personality than its predecessor.
Most customers are likely to stick with front-wheel drive, but four-wheel drive is available if you need extra grip – perhaps because you live in a rural area – and engines start with the 1.0-litre Boosterjet producing 110bhp. There’s also a larger 1.4-litre petrol, and both engines are relatively economical.
Drive the SX4 and you’re likely to have more fun than you expected, as the handling and steering give it an agile feel, with the only trade-off being a slightly brittle ride quality. The SX4 can also be a little noisier than the best-in-class, but any background din tends to settle down on the motorway.
Trim levels are somewhat confusingly called SZ4, SZ-T and SZ5, and the mid-range SZ-T with the 1.0-litre engine, six-speed manual gearbox and front-wheel drive is our favourite specification, thanks to its blend of economy, performance and equipment.
If you require four-wheel drive, Suzuki’s ALLGRIP system is available with the top petrol engines on all but the entry-level trim, but it doesn’t turn the SX4 into an off-roader. Instead, the four-wheel drive helps in poor conditions and with the occasional foray into a field or along a muddy track.
Taken as a whole, the changes have been successful, with the Boosterjet engines a big improvement on the old petrol, while the interior and suspension adjustments are also welcome. The S-Cross’ main selling point is value, though, with similar space to a Nissan Qashqai for the price of a Nissan Juke.
Families will be reassured to note the SX4 received the full five stars when crash-tested by Euro NCAP in 2013 and the post-facelift version should only have become safer. Suzuki also has a good reputation for reliability and the S-Cross came 62nd overall out of 150 models in our 2016 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, which is a solid result.