Motoring with Tony Conlon: Latest Suzuki S-Cross SUV has value written all over it

Suzuki has now launched a full hybrid model following on from the release of the mild hybrid S-Cross last spring.

The recent Irish launch was held in Glasson, County Westmeath, and I went along to test-drive the new model over a mix of both Westmeath and Longford roads.

After having spent in excess of two hours behind the wheel, I came away hugely impressed with this Japanese SUV. Its main attractions lie in the style and finish, the level of standard equipment, its economy - and the big one as far as I am concerned is the price of the vehicle.

This S-Cross is what the original S-Cross should have been. When the current design was introduced last year, it put the old model in the ‘timid appearance’ league. Now making a stronger visual statement which features a more muscular design that enhances its road presence with larger and more angular wheel arches and smooth-flowing lines, this is certainly a car that catches the eye more easily.

The front-end incorporates a raised bonnet line, piano black front grille and new design three LED positioned headlamps. Sitting on 17-inch alloy wheels, even the rear styling and the larger combination lamps along with the standard fit roof rails show this car in a whole new light.

Getting back into an S-Cross again reminded me how well-appointed and equipped it is. Its 7” infotainment touch panel display allows the driver to use certain smartphone applications with MirrorLink, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connection.

A 4.2-inch high-definition colour LCD display within the Instrument cluster shows a range of information including engine output and torque data, fuel consumption, average speed, acceleration and brake operation as well as driving G-force tracking.

Blend all this technology into a comfortable, well-appointed cabin where it is possible to find that desired driving position easily (because of the many seat and steering wheel adjustments) and you’ll sense a growing bond becoming evident between car and driver. Offering 293-665 litres of boot space (mild hybrid 430-665 litres) and good all-round visibility, this package gets even better.

At a time when everything looks to be rising in price at a rate of knots, the standard and generous amount of equipment found on this SUV puts many competitors in the shade. Apart from alloy wheels and roof rails and its high-tech inner layout that includes dual-zone auto air conditioning and heated front seats, this Suzuki comes with a lot of safety equipment as standard fit.

Included are seven air bags, dual sensor brake support (automated braking), lane departure warning and prevention, traffic sign recognition, rear cross traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitor, front and rear parking sensors, reversing camera, vehicle sway warning and eCall.

The latter will alert emergency services with a phone message if the vehicle is involved in an accident. Generated automatically, it gives the precise location of the vehicle.

Unlike the mild hybrid version that has a 1.4 litre boosterjet petrol engine mated to a manual gearbox, this full hybrid version comes with a 1.5 litre petrol engine coupled with a 6-speed auto gear shift with gear ratios that are optimised to help provide a good combination of performance and fuel economy. The transmission also has a manual mode with steering wheel-mounted shift paddles.

The full hybrid S-Cross consists of a 140V lithium-ion battery and inverter, motor generator unit (known as MGU), a 12V lithium-ion battery as well as a conventional 12V lead-acid battery to power components requiring lower voltage such as lights, instruments and heating/air conditioning.

Capable of assisting economy in EV mode, the S-Cross has two switchable modes, standard and eco. The MGU, which acts as both a generator and starter motor, is belt-driven, and assists the petrol engine during takeoff and allows for more spirited driving. Depending on conditions, the frequency of EV driving can be increased.

Driving the car mostly in eco mode, it returned 5.9 l/100km (47mpg). If I did not have so much village/town driving to do during the test, I believe I could have bettered this figure.

For me one of the biggest attractions about this SUV is its pricing.

While the mild 48 Volt S-Cross is priced at €29,865, the full 140 Volt hybrid model costs €31,895. If these prices don’t cause some embarrassment to Suzuki’s competitors, I don’t know what will.

Something else worth mentioning is the fact Suzuki only charges €375 extra for metallic paint when others charge in excess of €1,000 for a bit of glitter.