Let's face it, the term 'Cross' hasn't gone down well with the Indian customers. A testimony to this is the response both the VW CrossPolo and the Toyota Etios Cross received when it came to sales. The Hyundai i20 Active on the other hand did away with the word and is doing pretty well. But Maruti Suzuki has decided to go against all odds and take a chance on the word for its next product is the long awaited S-Cross.
The S-Cross sets out to tackle a segment which is dominated by SUVs like the Renault Duster, Nissan Terrano and the Ford Ecosport. Of course the new Hyundai Creta is also part of the competition but when you first look at the S-Cross, it's visibly not an SUV and it was never meant to be one. Maruti Suzuki calls it a 'premium crossover' and this is what sets it apart from all its rivals. Well, Maruti has tried its hand at premium products before with the the Grand Vitara and the Kizashi, and though they were great products, we all know how that went.
With the S-Cross, however, Maruti Suzuki wants to change all those perceptions but the styling of the car doesn't help its cause. The design is a familiar one and you can see the SX4 hatch smiling somewhere in between the big projector head lamps with LED strips and the two-slat chrome grille. The drooping nose up front also makes its overall look softer and less aggressive than any of its competitors. It's then more like a larger hatchback than an SUV.
Also Read: Maruti Suzuki S-Cross Features, Variants, Specs Revealed
However, all these thoughts completely vanish when you enter the car. The inside of the S-Cross is a whole new ball game. It comes with all black upholstery and there is a hint of beige on the dashboard. The interiors have been designed to look smart, sporty and contemporary and this is where many of the youngsters might feel weak in the knees. The fit and finish on the inside too is top-notch and it's as 'premium' a Maruti car gets. Even when you rotate the knob of the climate control to change the blower speed or temperature, there is that distinct feel you get and you understand how well the buttons have been damped.
There is also use of soft-touch plastic and there's a textured layer on the dash too which comes with a soft touch and it's only when you glance at the steering wheel that you realise that you get all of this in a Maruti Suzuki. Pushing the envelope of premium is the generous use of leather. Beside the seats, leather has been splashed on the door pads, the steering wheel and even the gear lever. Then there's the space the car offers. I will say that this is in fact the most spacious of the Marutis i've seen in a while. Mind you, the Wagon R is a spacious car thanks to its tall boy stance, but the S-Cross thrashes notions of how crammed Suzuki cars are.
There's 2600 mm of space between the wheels and the S-Cross uses it to its advantage. There is enough knee room for a six-footer like me at the back but thanks to the sloping roof, I had to be careful of my head hitting the top. Then there is the boot space on offer. On paper it might not sound all that much because reading '353 litres' wouldn't really put a smile on your face but there is enough space for two big bags and two small ones.
Maruti has also provided a 60:40 split option on the rear seats. The rear seats can be folded down to offer a massive 810 litres of space. There are also some practical options inside the car in the form of cubby holes and a full-size bottle holder in each door which adds to the convenience of its customers.
Also Read: Hyundai Creta vs Maruti Suzuki S-Cross vs Renault Duster vs Ford EcoSport
So what's under the bonnet? Yes, I am getting to the engine bit now. Let's start with Maruti Suzuki not bringing in a petrol engine to this line-up. There are therefore two diesel engines that will be offered on the S-Cross - the 1.3-litre and the 1.6-litre. We drove the 1.6-litre one which churns out a good 118bhp and develops 320Nm of torque. The engine is pretty refined, but obviously you start comparing it to the likes of the Hyundai's 1.6 and then you notice that it isn't quite there yet, but getting there.
The gears slot in well which has always been a kind of Maruti Suzuki thing. However, there is a bit of turbo lag and hence it's sluggish, but after it crosses the 1800 rpm mark, the turbocharger kicks in and then this is a whole new animal. You feel the force of the 320Nm and notice what a great highway cruiser this really is. You have to work your way around the 6-speed manual gearbox till you get used to where the optimum power delivery lies and that's when things look up. Overtaking maneuvers, then, become easy thanks to the good mid-range the S-Cross offers.
The suspension is a bit stiff for my liking but it manages to deal with potholes easily and you don't start caring for the bumps on the roads as you go faster. It simply cruises over them. I might have not liked the firm suspension setup, but the S-Cross scores points in the department of stability at high speeds thanks to this. There's a lot of grip on offer at the front and that's why you get the confidence to go round corners with minimal fuss.
The 1.6 DDiS 320 comes in three variants - Delta, Zeta, Alpha while the 1.3 DDiS220 sees the addition of two more - Sigma and Sigma (O) making it a total of 8 variants on offer. When it comes to features, Maruti Suzuki has made sure that the top-spec variant comes equipped to the brim with technology like keyless entry, engine push Start/Stop, automatic climate control, projector head lamps, a six-speaker touch screen infotainment system with smartphone integration, satellite navigation, Bluetooth, USB, Aux-In, automatic head lamps, rain sensing wipers and more. The only thing that goes missing in the long list of features is a rear air-con vent but according to the people at Maruti Suzuki, you don't really need one.
On the safety features front, it's good news as 7 out of the 8 variants will come with dual airbags and ABS. The Sigma variant which comes sans ABS gets only the driver side airbag but that is good news too.
All-in-all, the Maruti Suzuki S-Cross might have not made quite an impression in the department of styling and nor does it have a commanding road presence, but it does stay true to the premium tag it bears. It's not an all-out SUV, but what makes it different is what it has to offer and that is space, comfort and practicality.
What Maruti Suzuki will add to that is the value proposition and we know how good they are at pricing their cars aggressively. The car will be launched next month and will be only available at the company's premium Nexa dealerships. What will be interesting to see, is if Maruti Suzuki hits the bulls eye, will it force other manufacturers to follow suit?
Engine Capacity: 1598cc, 4 cylinder
Power: 118bhp@4000 rpm
Torque: 320Nm@1750 rpm
Transmission: 6-Speed Manual
Engine Capacity: 1248cc, 4 cylinder
Power: 88bhp@4000 rpm
Torque: 200Nm@1750 rpm
Tranmission: 5-speed Manual
Also Check: Things You Should Know About Maruti S-Cross