Maruti Suzuki S-Cross in CarToq’s first drive review

The S-Cross debuted in India in 2015. Since then, the flagship product of Maruti has slowly gained momentum in the market and sold 53,000 units in two years time. Maruti has just revealed a refreshed version of the S-Cross and we just drove one. Here are our impressions.

Tell me about the changes

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The change list is not very long. It is subtle yet noticeable. Maruti has addressed the issue of the plan looks of the S-Cross with the new update. The new S-Cross looks much more striking and catches a lot of attention. Everything ahead of the windscreen has been redesigned and is all-new. The most eye-catchy change is the new vertical slat chrome dipped front grille, which gives it a better road presence.

Adding to the added presence are the all-new LED headlamps with LED DRLs that is available only with the top-end variant. Also, Maruti has not used the ‘SHVS’ badge as it does with other hybrid models. Instead, a new moniker ‘Smart Hybrid’ is placed at the rear. The bumper is also new and gets extra creases. From the side, the S-Cross almost looks the same except higher roof rails and new 16-inch machined alloy wheels. The rear also remains the same except the addition of the LED tail lamps.

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While the S-Cross retains its crossover design, the new car inevitably catches more eyes than the older version.

Anything new inside?

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The interiors also get subtle changes with few touches of luxury. The dashboard gets high-gloss piano black plastic treatment with polished chrome boundary surrounding the infotainment system and the central aircon vents. The infotainment system is the same as before, and it gets Apple CarPlay and Android Auto from the factory. It is a similar interface used by all other Maruti products.

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The tilt and telescopic adjustable steering gets a leather wrap and feels good to hold on to. The steering gets cruise control and infotainment control buttons. The instrument display is also the same and gets additional ‘Smart Hybrid’ badge. The MID shows various information like average fuel efficiency, average speed and more while the left dial shows the rpm and the right one shows speed.

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The top-end version of the vehicle also gets leather seats with contrast stitching. There is a good amount of side bolsters to keep your body in place during high-speed corners. The rear seats can be reclined at a single fixed position. It reduces the boot space by a minuscule amount but lets the rear seat passengers relax during longer drives. The S-Cross is quite spacious which transforms into a good amount of legroom for the rear passengers.

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However, the big car does not get rear AC vent, a feature that we dearly missed during our drive in Udaipur. Also, the position of the rear 12V socket is quite awkward, it is placed in the boot and that too on the driver side. The front 12V socket is located ahead of the gear lever, So you will need a good long wire to be in the comfortable reach of your phone while it is being charged.

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Space is very well managed inside the vehicle. The doors get cubby holes cum handle, and there is space to put 1-liter water bottles in all the four doors. The boot can hold up to 375 litres of luggage and is good enough to support a weekend trip. Reclining the rear seat reduces the boot space to 353 litres. There is also 60:40 split to utilise the space wisely. The top variant also features leather trim on the door armrests, automatic headlamps and wipers, and auto dimming IRVM.

Tell me about the engine and drive

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The enthusiast cadre 1.6-litre engine has been discounted. The favourite engine of the mass-market audience has been retained. The new S-Cross comes powered by the only 1.3-litre DDiS diesel engine that has the same 90 Bhp – 200 Nm output. However, Maruti has added SHVS mild hybrid system that increases the fuel efficiency by a great deal. The ARAI certified fuel efficiency now stands at 25.1 km/l as against 23.7 km/l on the outgoing model. Auto start/stop features come as default across all the variants.

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The S-Cross stays planted on the road at high speed. The tyres are now wider and get 215/60 profile as against 205/60 profile. Maruti has done slight changes to the suspension to house the new tyre, and the car also looks aesthetically more complete too.

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The suspension is well tuned and is made to take on any rough patch without much discomfort. The high ground clearance lets the enthusiastic drivers venture little deeper into the unknown without a scratch.

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The electric steering has decent feedback and weighs up nicely at high speeds. The S-Cross feels little underpowered but then where are the roads in India to utilise more power? The 90 Bhp power is enough to push the S-Cross to push to high speeds but initial exhilaration is missing. An extra 10 Bhp would have given the driver an extra kick that would have gone well with the “premium” tag of the vehicle.

The five-speed gearbox gets into the slots without much effort too. The braking power comes from ventilated front disc brakes and solid rear disc brakes. The braking is progressive and makes the driver confident enough to travel at the prescribed speed limits.

What could have been better?

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The complete LED headlamp set-up looks incomplete without the LED foglamps.  Also, the most common problem of unbreathable leather seats is evident in S-Cross. Perforated seats can solve the problem, but it may increase the price by a bit. And of course as mentioned above, the absence of rear AC vent and a more accessible 12V socket is felt.

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Maruti now can use a new key fob design. The teardrop design key fob looks good, but it has become too familiar in their line-up.

Good enough to buy?

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The S-Cross is expected to carry a price tag of around Rs. 8 lakh, ex-showroom Delhi, which makes it a very sensible choice for a lot of customers who are out in the market looking at the segment. The S-Cross will significantly undercut the Creta 1.4 diesel (which starts at nearly 10 lakhs) and is fresh in the market. Also, not to forget the Maruti brand name.

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It also makes for a good deal for people who opt for higher variants of Vitara Brezza. The S-Cross may not look like an SUV, but sure it looks and feels premium enough on the inside. The price will be a deciding factor for the success of this vehicle in the Indian market. The launch is just days away.