What I love most about the crossover segment in India, is the fact that each manufacturer has its own interpretation of what a crossover is supposed to be. The recently launched Renault Captur picks up the Duster’s Compact-SUV appeal while still retaining some sporty characteristics. The Hyundai Creta gets the SUV treatment, whereas the S-Cross, in its previous iteration, used to have more of a station wagon appeal. Circa 2017 saw the Maruti Suzuki S-Cross get a mid-cycle facelift, ditching it’s slimmer character for more of a butch muscular look, and we must admit, it’s exactly what the S-Cross needed. In fact in the new Nexa blue, the 2017 S-Cross does have a blink and miss resemblance with a certain German small-SUV, which is a feather in its hat considering the difference in retail prices that both have.
Design and Styling
In terms of cosmetic updates, it’s the front of the S-Cross that has changed the most with respect to its predecessor. The front grill now gets 10 chunky chrome vertical slats, which have been tastefully integrated to add to the S-Cross’s character without looking tacky. The bonnet and the bumper both get sinewy creases that make the silhouette more chunky. What really stands out are the crystal-effect LED DRLs which look premium and chique. The new alloy-wheels mated to the meatier 215 section tyres add to the 2017 S-Cross’s rugged new outlook. The rear benefits from minimal design tweaks and all-new LED tail-lamps. All together all updates to the S-Cross make it look beefier and chunkier, but is that necessarily better? The previous S-Cross was slimmer and looked a bit like a modern take on the American station wagon. In that light the S-Cross is a revelation, it looks like what you would imagine a cross-over should be. Low Roofline, decent ground clearance at 180 mm and a design that looks big but has a rational footprint.
Drive and Handling
Now, in terms of driving experience despite the chunkier exterior, the S-Cross is still light and nimble to drive. The steering has the right balance of weight and accuracy and does a good job of hiding the S-Cross’s dimensions. The suspension is primarily set up for city use but still, the S-Cross can really take directional changes at even spirited speeds with a sure-footedness that defies its inherent shape. The downside appears once you get off-road, quick rebound dampers paired with stiff suspension means that at low speed even on slightly undulating surfaces, you’re like to find yourself shaken rather than stirred. This can be remedied by a generous application of throttle, it keeps the nose and the weight off the front shockers. And, the well-weighted steering should keep you on course.
Engine and Transmission
One of the big changes for enthusiasts was the fact that the 2017 S-Cross Facelift will not come with the 320 Nm 1.6-litre diesel engine. Now don’t get us wrong the 1.3-litre DDIs with 200 Nm of torque and 89 hp isn’t particularly slow, but enthusiasts will miss the ballistic character of the 1.6-litre engine. The 1.3-litre engine gets Maruti’s SHVS (Smart Hybrid Vehicle System) technology which means that the S-Cross now gives exceptional fuel efficiency. Despite my heavy foot and the fact that most of my commute is in start-stop rush hour city traffic, the S-Cross’s information display indicated 15.5 kmpl. For a real-world test average, this is definitely above what most average diesel do. This also means that when you get your right foot down, the S-Cross’s Instant Mileage doesn’t drop much below the 10 kmpl mark. The SHVS light comes back on as soon as you lift your right foot which gives you a feeling like all the polar bears that were previously sacrificed on account of your tomfoolery will be duly granted a second lease in life. Overall, in terms of engine performance, the S-Cross is exciting to drive and still somehow manages to be economical. And that’s something you can’t put a price on. The S-Cross also comes mated to a five-speed gearbox, tuned for short throws and well-placed gear-gates that make very-very easy to use. Although pushing triple digit speeds, one does miss the 1.6l engines 6-speed gearbox which would have really taken the S-Cross to new levels of driving pleasure.
Pet-peeves, if you will, in terms of dynamics on the S-Cross include a tiny list of two reportable characteristic flaws. For one the brakes are a little spongy, the brake force is adequate but the feel is missing and this does take awhile to get used to. My best guess is that this loss in feel that comes from SHVS system which regenerates the energy otherwise lost in braking; following that, there is the fact that if you get slightly spirited in the corners it is likely that you will experience a tad of torque steer, that can be a bit unnerving, although in the S-Cross’ defense it does not necessarily mean a loss in grip. Indicating that Traction control might be something that should’ve been integrated. Neither is a deal closer, both are just things you’d have to get used to.
Features and Interiors
On the inside, the S-Cross stays mostly the same, and this isn’t an issue since even when it launched it was ahead of the curve. You get your climate control air conditioning. A touch screen infotainment system, that integrates Android Auto and Apple Car Play. The all-black theme on the interiors, add a touch of class to the S-Cross’s design. Thanks to its dimensions there’s plenty of space in the S-Cross with plenty of room both in the front and back. Safety wise the S-Cross gets ABS, EBD and dual airbags, which is a little strange considering the Maruti market the S-Cross as a premium car, and most others in the segment offer up to six airbags.
Express Drives Verdict
Now in the strictest sense, the S-Cross does miss out on the automatic option and does fall short of a few safety features. We miss the 1.6-litre engine’s ballistic character, torque steer and all. But all of this is a means to an end, which is, that the S-Cross undercuts the competition by a considerable amount in terms of price tag.
|Variant||Ex-showroom price in Delhi (Rs.)|
On the upside, the S-Cross is still great to drive, has a punchy eager engine, has great grip and driving dynamics, and to top it all has unbelievable fuel efficiency in real world tests. Which is why we give the S-Cross facelift a firm thumbs-up.