The 2015 version of the S-Cross was the first out of Maruti Suzuki’s premium Nexa stable. But in terms of sales, it didn’t quite do wonders for them. Probably the underwhelming looks and high price tag had something to do with it.
So two years later Marutidecided to give it a shake and a few twists to come up with a more muscular looking S-Cross.
Is it better than the previous one? Or just old wine in a new bottle?
We went to the city of lakes – Udaipur, to drive the all-new S-Cross and find out if it is indeed ‘designed to dominate’, as the company claims.
The first thing that strikes you is the larger, bolder, more aggressive looking front grille. The vertical grille sort of reminds you of a BMW. However, it is a breakaway from what seems to be in vogue these days — the cascading horizontal grilles.
The new look does add character to the car and is a marked improvement from its predecessor’s nose. And there is a generous amount of chrome detailing that’s been added to the car, compared to the earlier more plastic looking front.
To add to that, the bumper is completely redesigned and there’s more chrome to be spotted around the headlamps as well as the fog lamps.
Earlier Maruti was notorious for not focusing as much on looks. In fact, many thought the earlier S-Cross looked like a hatchback on steroids. However, that seems to be changing with the Nexa range and especially this car. It’s got a muscular look with creases on the bonnet and is overall a nice looking ride.
The 2017 S-Cross also gets new headlamps with LED daytime running lamps (DRLs), The headlamp design is quite different from the earlier one and has a more contemporary look.
The alloy wheels get a fresh design and a two-tone finish. The tyres too are wider (215/60 R16 tyres) compared to the previous version.
The sides and back though look fairly similar to its earlier avatar. However, the tail lamps now get LED detailing.
While the S-Cross gets a new face, the inside isn’t as new. There are satin chrome accents and soft-feel material on the dash. The central arm-rest now gets a new leather finish. There are leather seats as well in the top variant. The quality of plastic looks and feels better than the previous one. And it also gets a new 7-inch infotainment system, which is the same you get inside most of the new cars out of the Maruti stable these days. It supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It’s sort of a deja vu if you have been inside any of the latest offerings from Maruti. Because they are pretty much the same.
Convenience features include keyless entry, push start-stop button, and automatic climate control. The top variant also gets auto headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, cruise control among other things. There is no sunroof though, nor are there any AC (air conditioner) vents at the back.
The safety features include ABS (anti-lock braking system) with EBD (electronic brakeforce distribution), driver and front passenger airbags and ISOFIX (the international standard for attachment points for child safety seats in passenger cars) child seat mounts as standard. It would have been nice to get airbags at the back as well, which some others in the segment offer. Other features like parking sensors, seat belts with pre-tensioner etc. are also available on the S-Cross
The company claims a mileage of 25.1 km per litre (kmpl), however, the car we drove showed an average of around 15kmpl. Of course, it’s important to note that as we were testing the car, we redlined it, braked it hard, made frequent gear changes etc. So you’re definitely likely to get better fuel efficiency even if not 25.
Riding at the back
There really isn’t great space at the back. Two people can be seated comfortably. However, the third person in the middle will struggle with very little legroom, thanks to the central arm-rest positioning. The under-thigh support isn’t the best and long rides can get a bit uncomfortable. Although the suspension is otherwise decent, the ride can get a bit wobbly for passengers at the back especially while going over nasty potholes.
While the boot space (375-litre) is not a lot, it’s enough to store luggage for a short trip. The rear seats can also be folded flat in a 60:40 split, which allows further room for luggage.
The 1.3-litre engine is the same one used in the Ciaz and the Ertiga. What may disappoint auto enthusiasts is the decision to do away with the much more powerful 1.6-litre variant.
The DDiS 200 motor now also features Maruti’s Smart Hybrid (SHVS) technology with the idle-stop start, torque assist, brake energy regeneration and a gearshift indicator. The technology is said to ensure low emissions and more fuel efficiency.
The engine makes 90hp (horsepower) with 200Nm (Newton metre) of torque which is good enough for regular driving but isn’t as fun as the 1.6-litre now discontinued engine. There’s no automatic transmission (AT) variant available, and the car comes with a five-speed manual gearbox.
The driver gets a nice commanding seating position with a good view of the road. In fact, you can see the creases on the bonnet while driving. The driver seat can be raised and the steering mount can also be pulled up or down — fairly standard features these days. The pickup is good and there really isn’t any lag, but of course, it’s not as peppy and fun as the 1.6-litre. The car feels planted and doesn’t get wobbly even at high speeds. The wider tyres help grip the road better.
The engine though tends to make a bit of noise, even with the windows pulled up. The S-Cross feels more like a city car, so what surprises is that it doesn’t come with an automatic variant. While driving on the highway may be a breeze, pushing through rush hour traffic could be stressful in the absence of an automatic.
The car is expected to be priced between Rs 8-11 lakh. With the crossover and SUV (sports utility vehicle) segment now capturing customer imagination like never before it would be interesting to see how people react to Maruti’s latest offering.
Since it’s a Maruti, it’d be safe to say that customers can rest assured about the quality and ease of after-sales service, spare parts, resale value, mileage, the works. But while the company continues to dominate in most segments like the hatchback, compact sedan etc., the crossover space has been a somewhat weak nerve. This is Maruti Suzuki’s chance at redemption. Have they done enough? The consumer sentiment and sales figure will perhaps tell that story.