Suzuki’s 4×4 range extends further with the brand new SX4 S-Cross. A ‘soft roader’ certainly, but one fitted with the new driver selectable four mode ALLGRIP system
Words and photography: Nigel Fryatt
Things seem to be going well for Suzuki in the UK, the company having nudged its way into the top 20 best selling manufacturers, overtaking Mazda and Volvo and, in the words of Managing Director Dale Wyatt, ‘going to give Renault a bloody nose soon.’ Even allowing for exuberant marketing bravado, there’s no denying that Suzuki appears on the up; and it’s a growth built on a 4×4 heritage. The Grand Vitara is a well established model, we wrote about the introduction to the UK of the Swift 4×4 in the last issue, and the ever youthful Jimny continues to sell, entertain and bring a smile to all owners, and now the company enters probably the most competitive segment of the SUV market with its Nissan Qashqai competitor, the SX4 S-Cross. This introduction comes at a time when Suzuki can boast at being the UK’s fastest growing brand.
For many readers, this probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise. We regularly hear about the exploits of Jimny owners, a model that holds a unique place in the UK 4×4 market – and thankfully, from what we understand, may continue to be so for some time to come. The Grand Vitara is an equally well-considered model, a ‘soft roader’ maybe but still, thankfully, a model that (like the Jimny) has low range, and lockable diff 4×4 system – that at least needs to be driver selected. In Suzuki’s view, the driver is still important and not all the decisions when driving have been taken away and automated, especially when it comes to the 4×4 models. Thankfully, the new ‘soft SUV’ SX4 S-Cross continues this tradition.
The majority of Suzuki’s UK sales over the last few years, both 4×4 and 2×4, have been with private buyers. Suzuki’s footprint in the fleet market is tiny, and that is the major target for this new model, aiming to muscle in on the sales that Nissan enjoys with the Qashqai. To that end, there are no less than 13 different models in the S-Cross range: petrol or diesel engines, manual or CVT transmissions, 2×4 or 4×4 drivelines. Four models in this range are the ones that interest us, and these are the ones fitted with Suzuki’s new ALLGRIP four mode, driver selectable, 4×4 system.
Integrated into the driveline is the electronically selectable options of Auto, Sport, Snow and Lock. Driving in the Auto option is the most economical, 2×4 by default, until wheelspin is detected and drive then transmitted to the rear. For many S-Cross owners, this is going to be the default setting, which would be a shame because the driving experience improves when Sport is selected. In this mode, the system takes a lot more interest in accelerator inputs, optimising engine response. When you select Sport, the engine speed automatically increases by 500rpm, the steering feel becomes firmer and noticeably more precise during spirited driving, and the ALLGRIP system automatically diverts 20 per cent more torque to the rear. There are no changes to the suspension set-up, and since the S-Cross has a reasonably soft ride, Sport mode doesn’t turn the S-Cross into some sort of sports saloon, but it does offer a different character, making it a more enjoyable, and involving drive.
To read the full report see the December 2013 issue of 4×4 Magazine. Buy it here