Suzuki S-Cross Hybrid review: hopeless hybrid lets down this compact contender

The Suzuki S-Cross now features a full hybrid drivetrain (Photo: Suzuki)The Suzuki S-Cross now features a full hybrid drivetrain (Photo: Suzuki)
The Suzuki S-Cross now features a full hybrid drivetrain (Photo: Suzuki) | (Photo: Suzuki)
High equipment levels and 4x4 ability can’t save this SUV from a monumentally miserable engine

Suzuki’s current advertising slogan is “good different”. It’s all about highlighting how the Japanese firm avoids the mainstream norms and ploughs its own furrow with its range of mostly small, relatively cheap, well equipped cars.

That range includes the capable Swift, lovably weird Ignis, venerable Vitara and its bigger, plusher SUV sibling the S-Cross. And in the right spec and against the right competition those models are indeed good different.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

But today we’re looking at the range-topping hybrid version of the S-Cross and while it’s definitely different, good is sadly lacking.

Suzuki is well known for its compact models and the S-Cross sticks to this line, falling between the compact and mid-sized SUVs offered by rivals. Against something like a Ford Puma it feels relatively large but Suzuki’s press materials boldly compare it with bigger alternatives such as the Nissan Qashqai. In such company, the S-Cross’s interior feels cramped, especially in the rear. And the tiny 293-litre boot is verging on supermini territory.

The interior materials also can’t keep up with similarly priced rivals from Japan, Korea and Europe, offering hard, scratchy finishes and cheaply made switches that feel a generation out of date. Compensating somewhat for that is a specification list as long as your arm. Keyless entry and start, a 360-degree camera plus parking sensors, sat nav, adaptive cruise control, heated seats and a panoramic roof are all standard equipment. Top-spec Ultra models also come with Suzuki’s well-respected Allgrip 4x4 system which imbues the S-Cross with a ruggedness not many rivals can match, especially at its £32,000 price point.

The specification somewhat compensates for the lack of space and quality but where this S-Cross really falls down is under the bonnet.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Until last year the S-Cross was only available as a decent 1.4-litre mild hybrid petrol but in October a 1.5-litre full hybrid setup joined the range to expand Suzuki’s selection of electrified models and sit alongside the Swace and Across full hybrids.

The need to further electrify its line-up is understandable but unfortunately for Suzuki, the result in the S-Cross is pretty grim. The full hybrid system is coarse, noisy and not particularly powerful. It has less power and torque than the turbocharged mild hybrid, is nearly three seconds slower to 62mph and offers a mere one mile per gallon more in official tests. Perhaps the worst element is the automatic transmission which takes so long to shift you could cook a roast dinner in the time it takes to swap ratios. We’d take the Boosterjet 1.4 with its standard manual ‘box any day.

The S-Cross interior has too many cheap plastics and too little space to compete against similarly priced rivals (Photo: Suzuki)The S-Cross interior has too many cheap plastics and too little space to compete against similarly priced rivals (Photo: Suzuki)
The S-Cross interior has too many cheap plastics and too little space to compete against similarly priced rivals (Photo: Suzuki) | (Photo: Suzuki)

Find a long easy stretch of easy road and the S-Cross hybrid settles down into a reasonably refined and comfortable cruiser. There’s some wind noise at motorway speeds but it’s not overly intrusive and the S-Cross’s suspension soaks up bad surfaces well, but the same is true of the cheaper, livelier mild hybrid.

Suzuki helpfully highlights the hybrid’s benefits over a number of rivals, which the S-Cross outperforms in terms of running costs. Its on-paper economy and benefit in kind tax are marginally favourable compared with the likes of the Kia Sportage, Nissan Qashqai and Hyundai Tucson but only marginally.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

As mentioned, this top-spec car is also generously equipped compared with the entry-level variants of those models. Unfortunately for Suzuki, mentioning them reminds us that they all offer better quality, more spacious interiors and better driving experiences for similar money.

And that’s perhaps the S-Cross’s full hybrid’s biggest failing. At the mild hybrid’s £25k entry level price point the brittle plastics and lack of space are an acceptable compromise but when it’s within £2,000 of the award-winning Sportage hybrid, it’s a far harder sell, even with its longer equipment list.

The S-Cross’s design has matured into a handsome looking machine (Photo: Suzuki)The S-Cross’s design has matured into a handsome looking machine (Photo: Suzuki)
The S-Cross’s design has matured into a handsome looking machine (Photo: Suzuki) | (Photo: Suzuki)

Really, unless you need Suzuki’s 4x4 expertise in a small package, the S-Cross hybrid is a hard car to recommend. The drivetrain is slow and rough, and similarly priced cars offer more space and better interior quality with little compromise on running costs. If you must have an S-Cross, the mild hybrid is cheaper to buy, quicker and barely any more expensive to run.

Suzuki S-Cross Ultra Full Hybrid

Price: £31,549 (£32,099 as tested); Engine: 1.5-litre, four-cylinder, petrol/electric hybrid; Power: 114bhp; Torque: 102lb ft; Transmission: Six-speed automatic, four-wheel-drive; Top speed: 108 mph; 0-62mph: 13.5 seconds; Economy: 48mpg; CO2 emissions: 132g/km

Related topics:

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.