The S-Cross has been a significant product in the Maruti Suzuki portfolio. In fact, it is with this premium urban crossover that the company had introduced its NEXA range of exclusive showrooms. Launched a little over two years back, in August 2015, the company has sold about 58,000 units until now, 53,000 of them being in the domestic market.
While the S-Cross was accepted well by the consumers for the overall package it offered, the big negative for the product was the way it looked. Positioned as a premium crossover, somewhere in between sub-four metre offerings and SUVs, the S-Cross had marked the company’s re-entry into the premium segment of the market, a segment that hasn't been kind to its earlier offerings.
With the all-new S-Cross now, Maruti Suzuki has looked at addressing the design concerns with a fairly aggressive new look. The S-Cross also gets a hybrid boost, thanks to the SHVS (Smart Hybrid Vehicle by Suzuki), helping the car get more efficient. We were recently in Udaipur to drive the car, and here’s a brief look at what it brings to the market.
The sore point of the S-Cross, when launched, was the way it looked. The design was outdated and couldn’t stand tall among other products in the market that boasted of better looks. It was bigger than the usual hatchbacks, but wasn’t quite an SUV. It had resemblance to the SX4, especially in the front styling and stance. But somehow, the design didn’t age well among Indian consumers. The feedback for the company was fairly direct. Consumers weren’t happy with the S-Cross’ looks, but accepted it for the practicality it offered.
With the all-new S-Cross, Maruti Suzuki decided to give the car a new lease on life, primarily on the outside and some subtle changes on the inside as well. The front fascia, in fact is completely new, with the grille being the biggest change. The 10-slat chrome grille is surrounded by thicker amounts of chrome. Add to that the new look headlamps that have been given LED projector lamps and LED daytime running lights, and they not just look good but are really bright too. The front bumper too is redesigned, giving the S-Cross front an appealing look.
The front look is well accentuated by the way the hood has been designed on the all new S-Cross. It addresses the very sore point customers had with the S-Cross – the stance of the vehicle is now more upright, and gives it a lot of substance.
The rear look pretty much remains unaltered, but for the new rear combination lamps (RCL) that are equipped with LEDs. The only major change on the sides is the introduction of two-toned 16-inch alloy wheels, and we do feel they gel well with the changed look of the S-Cross.
Maruti has also introduced a new brand of tyres on the S-Cross. They are wider compared to the ones previously available on the vehicle, and are much quieter on the road too. A release from JK Tyre, the supplier of the UX Royale brand of tyres on the S-Cross, stated that these are five-rib tyres that have a V-rated capability and are equipped with “aero wings” design developed on a variable draft groove technology platform for added handling and traction.
Moving inside, the soft touch dashboard and leather seats complement the all-black look of the S-Cross interior. There are gentle doses of aluminium, chrome and piano-black embellishments on the central console. The touchscreen infotainment system comes equipped with inbuilt navigation, Bluetooth connectivity and supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. This, in fact, is the same system found on other Maruti models such as the Dzire, Ignis, Baleno and Brezza. There are other convenience features such as cruise control, automatic climate control, rain sensing auto wipers, and a start-stop button.
The rear seats offer decent space and comfort, but Maruti seems to have missed out on an essential feature – the rear AC vents. Considering the segment the S-Cross will play in, and the fact that cars in smaller segments offer rear AC vents these days, this is a serious miss.
While the previous variant of the S-Cross came with two diesel engines – a first for Maruti Suzuki at that point in time – the all new S-Cross gets only one. The 1.6 l DDiS 320, the largest diesel engine in Maruti's portfolio that generated 118 hp and a hefty 320 Nm of torque, has been done away with from the S-Cross. There were way too few people opting for the larger 1.6 l engine, and hence it made no sense for the company to continue offering that engine. Powertrain responsibilities on the S-Cross lie with the 1.3 l DDiS 200 engine that produces 200 Nm of torque and about 89 hp of peak power.
There is also just one transmission available on the S-Cross now – a five-speed manual option. Officials didn’t deny the likelihood of introducing the popular AMT option on the vehicle sometime in the future. Going by the way Maruti has introduced the auto gear shift (AGS) technology on many of its products, we expect the S-Cross to get one soon enough.
The 1.3 l engine is a proven performer, and on the highway between Udaipur and Mount Abu, this engine did not disappoint. Power delivery is smooth, and offers quite the right feel on the highway. Although acceptable, we felt there is scope to further bring down the NVH levels. The welcome addition to the S-Cross is the SHVS or mild hybrid system, just like the ones available on the Ciaz and Ertiga diesels. This has led to an efficiency improvement of approximately 7 % – 6.3 % to be precise. CO2 emissions have come down to 105.5 gm/km, from the earlier 115 gm/km.
Apart from the idle start stop feature, the SHVS also features Power Assist, wherein the stored energy in advanced high capacity battery assists engine power during acceleration, and Brake Energy Regeneration. The integrated starter generator converts the energy from braking/ deceleration of the car and stores it in the battery. From a fuel efficiency perspective, the S-Cross now claims 25.1 km/l as against the 23.65 km/l earlier.
For some time now, Maruti Suzuki has been focussing hard on delivering products that are compliant to current and future safety norms. The S-Cross, like five other models in MSIL’s portfolio, is already compliant with advanced upcoming safety norms including frontal offset crash, side impact and pedestrian safety. It gets ABS and all-round disc brakes as standard across all models. Two airbags and ISO-FIX child seat safety mount for child seats at the rear are standard across all variants as well.
Overall, there isn’t much not to like about the new S-Cross. It certainly has matured compared to its previous avatar. It looks better – both outside and inside – and drives well. Better efficiency and emission figures also mean it cares for the environment more (a good statement to make!). There’s a new colour on offer too, called the NEXA Blue.
Will the S-Cross set the sales charts on fire? Well, we aren’t too sure. But priced at Rs 8.49 lakh for the Sigma variant, going up to Rs 11.29 lakh for the top-end Alpha variant, the S-Cross is a value package for consumers looking at buying into the “premium urban crossover” positioning of the vehicle.
TEXT: Deepangshu Dev Sarmah
PHOTO: Bharat Bhushan Upadhyay