- Excellent engine
- Spacious cabin
- Cheap to buy
- No active safety like AEB
- Short service intervals
- Unremarkable to drive
It’s 2020 and it’s no secret that SUVs are everywhere. Your neighbour has (at least) one, your siblings have one, your parents have one; everybody has one. Because of this seemingly insatiable demand for them, car makers often make many SUVs and more often than not, they compete with one another. Enter the 2020 Suzuki S-Cross Turbo Prestige.
You see, Suzuki has been making small cars and SUVs for decades and one of the first to join the pack of modern SUVs (aka jacked-up hatchbacks) was the SX4. Nowadays, the SX4 is called the S-Cross and is available in two forms locally: Turbo and Turbo Prestige. Suzuki also makes the Jimny and Vitara, which are similarly priced to the S-Cross, and other small hatches such as the Swift and Baleno. So, why buy the S-Cross over the Vitara and indeed any other rival? Let’s find out.
Price & Specs: 7/10
Priced from $29,990 drive away, the 2020 S-Cross Turbo Prestige represents good value for money in the small SUV segment, especially for those wanting big ticket items such as leather upholstery. Other standard kit includes keyless entry and start, LED headlights, auto lights and wipers, a 7.0-inch touchscreen with inbuilt nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a reversing camera, 17-inch alloy wheels, a six-speaker sound system, electric-folding/heated mirrors, rear privacy glass, an auto-dimming rear mirror, dual-zone climate control, a leather steering wheel, cruise control with a speed limiter and a rear centre armrest.
Safety kit is largely a miss however – seven airbags and stability control are standard, though active safety features such as auto emergency braking (AEB) and adaptive cruise control (which are available in European S-Crosses sourced from the same Hungarian factory) are disappointingly unavailable in Australia. Those features plus blind-spot monitoring, lane keep assist and rear cross-traffic alert are available in the more expensive Vitara Turbo, which sits on the same platform and is built in the same factory as the S-Cross.
The S-Cross also lacks surprise and delight features such as auto-folding mirrors, an electric tailgate, digital radio, wireless phone charging, more than one USB port, heated seats, a digital speedometer (let alone a digital driver’s display) and so on that are found in rivals.
It’s a shame that the S-Cross lacks kit such as AEB because it’s otherwise pretty good value for money against its key rivals: the Kia Seltos and Nissan Qashqai. The Seltos is priced from $26,990 plus on-road costs, and although it gets AEB, it doesn’t even feature alloy wheels. The Qashqai is priced from $30,290 plus on-road costs and it too gets AEB and even alloy wheels, but not even auto headlights to match the Kia and Suzuki.
Performance & Economy: 8/10
All local 2020 Suzuki S-Cross models are fitted with the company’s 103kW/220Nm ‘BoosterJet’ 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine, matched to a six-speed auto and are solely front-wheel drive. It’s actually the engine that sounds out from the rest of the S-Cross package as it’s a really great little unit. It’s grunty, it’s efficient and it’s actually quite a fun engine to rev.
Because the maximum 220Nm of torque is produced from just 1,500rpm, the S-Cross doesn’t need to rev in order to get going. That’s in addition to its intuitive six-speed auto that features sporty paddle shifters to get the most from the engine, and that it only weighs 1,170kg (kerb) as well – a good 164kg less than the Qashqai – means that the S-Cross feels energetic from behind the wheel.
Suzuki claims just 5.9L/100km on the combined cycle, which is pretty respectable. We achieved around 7L/100km in mixed driving, which is a pretty good result despite not offering mild hybrid tech (like in Europe) or a stop-start system. You do have to fill it with minimum 95RON premium unleaded, though (and not higher octane E10).
Ride & Handling: 7/10
The driving experience of the S-Cross is largely positive. First, the negative: thanks to its somewhat unrefined ride quality and flat seats, you can move around over bigger bumps and in corners. The ride doesn’t really ever settle over low speed continuous bumps, which can be annoying – though its higher speed ride is fine.
Though its visibility is excellent thanks to its thin pillars, and the steering is quite quick as well. Road noise is average for the segment – it’s definitely quieter at speed than the Seltos, though. While it’s not the most engaging car to drive, the S-Cross is totally fine for its intended use.
Interior & Practicality: 7/10
The S-Cross was initially revealed in 2013, and while the exterior was updated in 2017, the interior has stayed relatively the same since it was released. The build quality is excellent and it feels built to last, though the only soft-touch materials inside the cabin are located on the dashboard fascia – better than the Kia Seltos, though poor compared to the Toyota C-HR. This dated feel extends to the centre dials that lack a digital speedometer, the cheap feeling stalks with a separate fog lightand the lack of modern features such as only one USB port and a lack of wireless charging.
Centre of the S-Cross’ cabin is the same 7.0-inch touchscreen that’s used in pretty much every other Suzuki in Australia. It features inbuilt navigation, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and a reversing camera, though not digital radio. While it’s dated too with old-feeling menus, it’s extremely easy to use and the screen quality itself is good. The six-speaker sound system is fine too, though don’t expect a premium system at this price point.
While the S-Cross’ cabin is somewhat dated, it is quite roomy. Sitting behind my driving position, my six-foot frame has more than enough leg and headroom, and thanks to large windows, it’s a pretty airy feeling space as well. Unlike rivals, rear privacy glass is standard, which is very helpful in a hot country like ours. There’s also a rear centre armrest with cupholders and reasonable door storage, though no rear air vents and no rear charging ports.
Bootspace is reasonable at 430-litres with the rear seats erect – this extends to 1,269L with the rear seats folded. The boot also features an adjustable floor height, a few hooks to hang shopping bags off and some side storage too – all lacking from the more expensive and less practical Mazda CX-30. While the S-Cross’ boot is larger than the CX-30, it is smaller than the 430L/1,598L Kia Seltos, and the 468L/1,428L Nissan Qashqai.
Service & Warranty: 7/10
Like other Suzuki models in Australia, the S-Cross comes with a five-year/unlimited km warranty, which matches the Nissan and lags behind the Kia’s seven-year/unlimited km term. Servicing is due once a year or every 10,000km (whichever comes first), which is shorter than the 2.0-litre Kia Seltos, though equal to the Qashqai. Service pricing over five years costs $1,475 (just $295 per year) though that’s only to 50,000km – beware if you travel more than 10,000km per year.
The Qashqai is slightly less to service over the same time and distance ($1,387 or $278 per service) though the Kia Seltos costs $1,914 ($383) over the same time period – though that’s to 75,000km, which is 25,000km longer than the Suzuki and Nissan. Unlike the Kia with up to eight years and Nissan’s five year term, Suzuki does not offer roadside assistance on the S-Cross – though if you buy a Jimny or Vitara, you do receive it.
2020 Suzuki S-Cross Turbo Prestige DiscoverAuto Rating: 7.2/10
The 2020 Suzuki S-Cross Turbo Prestige feels its 2013 vintage inside with dated controls and switchgear, and the driving experience isn’t particularly fun either. The lack of safety tech like auto emergency braking is disappointing and we hope it’s replicated soon. Though it’s entirely competent, newer rivals do things better and provide more for the enthusiast who has bought such a car because kids have come along.
But as an A-to-B tool, the S-Cross is spacious, well made, no doubt reliable, cheap to service, has a great little engine that’s both punchy and efficient, and offers some pretty nice standard equipment including leather upholstery, satellite navigation and handsome 17-inch wheels. It’s not our favourite small SUV, but it’s definitely worth your consideration.