Test driving the new Maruti Suzuki S-Cross

Jan 07, 2018, 11:35 IST | Ravi Chandnani

With plenty of bling for slightly more money, the new S-Cross might not be a perfect crossover, but it still deserves attention

Maruti Suzuki announced the arrival of the latest S-Cross - India's first true-blue crossover. The facelift S-Cross comes with an array of new design features that lend the crossover a more contemporary look. The most noticeable change is the ultra-wide grille with huge amounts of chrome on it. Maruti Suzuki stressed this aspect of the design a lot, for it gives the new S-Cross a distinctive identity. It looks good, but the amount of chrome seems like overkill.

The interior is almost completely the  same as in the previous iteration
The interior is almost completely the same as in the previous iteration

Anyway, to add a little class to the exterior, Maruti has equipped the S-Cross with headlights that feature LED projector lamps and daytime running lights (DRL). The black trim and the big fog-lamps on the front bumper lend the S-Cross some muscle, making it look more rugged. The new wheels, which feature a dual-tone finish, elevate the style and class of the crossover. At the rear, the S-Cross remains identical to the outgoing model. However, the tail-lamp layout has changed. The new design of the tail-lamps includes combination LED lights, but that is only available on the top-of-the-line Alpha variant.

Projectors and LED DRLs look mean
Projectors and LED DRLs look mean

Inside, things are pretty much the same as before as the cabin is carried over from the previous model. However, the quality of the plastic panels has improved and so has the overall fit and finish. The soft-touch plastics are good and the leather upholstery adds a bit more class than before.

The S-Cross is now only avaiable with the 1.3-litre DDiS engine. pics/Sanjay Raikar
The S-Cross is now only avaiable with the 1.3-litre DDiS engine. pics/Sanjay Raikar

The S-Cross continues to come with the same SmartPlay infotainment unit as before, featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Features such as automatic climate control, voice commands for the infotainment system, height adjustability for the driver's seat, engine start/stop button, and many more are carried forward in the new S-Cross as well.
As for the mechanical bits, the new S-Cross will now come with the DDiS 200 engine, which is the 1.3-litre turbo-diesel motor that produces 90 PS and 200 Nm of torque, mated to a five-speed manual gearbox. The smaller engine also gets Maruti's smart Hybrid system that features an Integrated Starter Generator that helps improve the fuel efficiency and also aids performance.

We drove the new S-Cross in Udaipur, and noticed that the feel of the engine has hardly changed. It lacks refinement as the diesel chatter is clearly audible inside the cabin, even at idle. There is hardly any power or torque that comes through before 1,800-2,000 rpm and, after that, all of it is unleashed at once and you have to be ready to work your right foot to control it. The noticeable turbo-lag does bother. However, once it spools up, the power and torque delivery are somewhat sudden.

The five-speed manual gearbox is slick with taller ratios and spot-on shifts. It rides well with the suspension taking much of the roughness out of the ride, giving it a good ride quality. Handling is not that great as there is some amount of body-roll that interferes. But, it manages to be somewhat engaging in the corners so long as you don't push it hard. The new JK UX Royale tyres also performed much better than the old JK tyres as the grip levels are better and the tyres don't squeal.

Overall, the new S-Cross feels pretty much the same as before in terms of driveability, handling and ride quality. However, it is the design that has been changed dramatically. With the added amount of bling, the car should be able to get more customers than before. Moreover, at R11.29 lakh [ex-showroom, Pune], it is just R60,000 more than the earlier model. Not bad, considering the fact that a lot has changed in terms of design. It may not be the perfect crossover, but it still deserves attention.

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