Question of the Day – Is the Maruti Suzuki S-Cross the most confusing vehicle in its segment? Well, what segment? Does the S-Cross really belong to a segment at all? This is perhaps the first question that’ll strike you. And it has left us confused too. Allow us to explain.
The S-Cross has been launched in India. Maruti Suzuki calls it a premium crossover, and says that it’ll be sold only through NEXA showrooms. The pricing of the S-Cross does make it premium though, with prices ranging from 8.34 lakh rupees, going all the way up to 13.74 lakh rupees, ex-showroom Delhi.
Now, which segment does the S-Cross belong to? Here’s why its positioning is highly confusing. Since it’s called a premium crossover from Maruti Suzuki, it should take on the likes of the Ford Ecosport, Renault Duster, Hyundai Creta and even the Mahindra XUV500. But does it, really?
The 1.6 liter turbo diesel engine of the S-Cross is very torquey, with 320 Nm on tap. But by pricing the fully loaded version at 13.74 lakh rupees, Maruti Suzuki has ensured that the S-Cross would be compared with the likes of the Hyundai Creta and the Mahindra XUV500.
Priced like Creta, but its not a compact SUV
Notably, the Creta offers much more equipment than the S-Cross, while certainly not being as much fun to drive as the latter. The S-Cross handles better than the Ecosport-Duster-Creta combine and this is simply due to the hatchback-like nature of the car, and partly due to Maruti Suzuki’s engineers who have got some things spot on.
The Creta also offers the look of a compact SUV, and this is something that the S-Cross can’t hope to match. While the Duster AWD is another compact SUV that the S-Cross 1.6 competes with in price terms, the former’s all wheel drive layout and additional safety equipment makes it a much better buy for the niche buying segment it’s aimed at.
Price overlap with even bigger SUVs
That leaves us with the likes of the Mahindra XUV500, the Mahindra Scorpio and the Tata Safari Storme. The XUV500 is much larger than the S-Cross, and in W6 trom offers quite a lot in terms of performance, features and space. And the S-Cross isn’t really competition to the XUV500 except for the pricing of course.
Handles beautifully. Like a hatch.
Coming to the S-Cross’ pricing overlapping with that of the Scorpio and the Safari Storme, it’s no contest really. The S-Cross may win in terms of how it rides and handles but who buys an SUV for going fast around the bends? The Scorpio and Safari Storme are large, 7 seat SUVs that can get down and dirty, and take on bad roads or no roads with aplomb. The S-Cross? Well, most owners are likely to back off much before the vehicle says ‘that’ll be all’.
Now, let’s compare the S-Cross 1.3 Diesel with the Ford Ecosport. Going by the pricing of the S-Cross, it is much more pricier than the diesel variants of the Ecosport and doesn’t really offer additional equipment, at least on the 1.3 liter diesel variants.
While the Ecosport’s top end variants bring in a full complement of six airbags, the S-Cross wants owners to be content with four disc brakes on all wheels, ABS+EBD and twin airbags. True, it’s larger than the Ecosport but the Ford at least looks like a proper compact SUV than merely a large hatchback. The aspiration here is SUV, not large hatchback.
Battle of the large hatchbacks
Now, this brings us to large, premium hatchbacks? Does India have large hatchbacks such as the Ford Fiesta or the Volkswagen Golf? Well, not really. The largest hatchbacks in the country, this side of the luxury pack, are the Honda Jazz and the Hyundai i20 Elite. And these cars are much cheaper, although a touch smaller than the S-Cross.
But they do offer decent equipment levels and have diesel engines that are similar to that on the S-Cross. Did anyone ask for a large hatchback? Well, not really but Maruti Suzuki may be trying to carve out a new segment here. So, that’s what the S-Cross is, a large hatchback masquerading as a crossover.
The S-Cross is similar to crossovers based on hatchbacks in terms of what it offers. Think Hyundai i20 Elite, Fiat Avventura and the Toyota Etios Cross. However, the Maruti Suzuki flagship is much larger than these vehicles, even though ground clearance is a mere 180 mm. And it brings in plenty of performance through the 1.6 liter diesel.
So, will the car buyer pay nearly 14 lakh rupees for what is essentially a large, spacious hatchback with stonking performance and sharp handling? There will be few buyers for the S-Cross at this price. Indian motoring history is peppered with similar confused, dud selling cars such as the Ford Fusion, Fiat Palio Adventure and the Chevrolet Forester.
What people may buy however, is the 1.3 liter diesel engined variant of the large hatchback/crossover/SUV/name it what you will. Maruti Suzuki’s brand value and after sales network could do its bit to drive buyers towards the 1.3 liter S-Cross Diesel. By actually positioning the large hatchback across multiple segments, Maruti Suzuki may have confused the buyer, but this very buyer may opt for the vehicle with the safest option here – Maruti Suzuki. Or is this too much of a hard sell? Even, we’re still confused.