Suzuki hatchback puts in impressive performance
The high-tech formula is bound to have impact on sales, writes Martin Brennan
Suzuki is pushing the brand with new and updated models on the way but the key to unlocking wallets on the forecourts in the future will be the high-end technology built into its offerings. The Baleno hatchback was a revelation with a one-litre three cylinder petrol engine comparable in performance to a 1.8 litre unit of yesteryear and in-built technology that one would expect in cars at a much higher price level.
The high-tech formula is bound to have an impact on sales as surveys have shown that connectivity, infotainment, radar safety packages and other driver aids are what most impress drivers these days. And the more, the better, we say, because most of the new developments are aimed at safety with items such as active cruise control for highway driving and radar brake safety technology for urban safety, with 4x4 AllGrip wheel control available at reasonable prices.
Suzuki has a face-lifted S-Cross arriving this month, a Vitara S model arriving in January alongside an eye-catching new Ignis mini-crossover just launched at the Paris Motor Show and there is an all new Swift model due next summer - and all will have the option of the company's excellent boosterjet engine technology.
The S-Cross has been around for a number of years but has been upstaged in sales by the Vitara SUV. The 23 dealers are pleased with the success of this crossover but Suzuki sees the S-Cross, especially the SX4 version with AllGrip technology, as the flagship model. Some have fears that pushing the S-Cross will confuse buyers, as in some versions there is only a €1,000 price difference.
But Suzuki sees it differently, pointing out that the Vitara is more a singles and young couples vehicle while the more spacious S-Cross is family transport. To bolster the crossover credentials, the S-Cross has got a stronger looking face with new grille and lights and there is extra ground clearance. There are also improvements inside with better materials up front - a soft-touch dashboard, a new central panel and new seat fabric. A full five-seater, with reasonable luggage area - with all seats in place.
There is a strong 1.6 litre diesel engine available and now there is the addition of a one-litre and 1.4 litre Boosterjet engines in the line-up with diesel-like economy. On a short test, the one-litre 110bhp unit with five-speed transmission and 170NM of torque on tap, returned over 50mpg and travelled effortlessly with two on board plus luggage without over-revving or creating much of a fuss at 120kph. The 1.4 litre 140bhp, six-speed Boosterjet with 220NM of torque, returned almost 40mpg on more difficult terrain.
Because of habit, there will still be a big following for the 1.6 litre diesel unit but with the new one-litre engine offering 9pc more torque than the outgoing 1.6 petrol unit, 11pc lower C02 figures and a 10pc improvement in fuel economy, a closer look at the petrol options at lower list prices is well worthwhile. The 1.4 litre unit is 17pc more powerful than the old 1.6 litre unit and four per cent more economical.
The S-Cross prices start at e20,995, a small increase on the current model with the mid-spec SZT coming in at €24,995 and the SZ5 - with full kit and huge panoramic sunroof - at €28,495. The 1.6 litre diesel model has a starting price of €26,995.
Standard equipment includes seven airbags, air conditioning, Bluetooth, DAB radio, alloy wheels, adaptive cruise control and speed limiter.
The SZ-T adds Sat/Nav, rear parking camera, dual-zone air conditioning and front and rear parking sensors. This model is expected to be the big seller. The AllGrip system on the two top models has four driver-selectable modes including Snow, Sport, Auto and Lock for those who take safety - and the great outdoors seriously.