First Drive Review: Maruti Suzuki S-Cross Facelift
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Do reworked exteriors and SHVS tech make the S-Cross a better product? Let’s find out.
The Maruti Suzuki S-Cross is not an SUV, but has always been at loggerheads with compact SUVs in its price range. The pre-facelift S-Cross was not a head-turner and its best selling variants drew power from a modest 1.3-litre 90PS diesel engine. While compact SUVs ruled the sales charts, this large crossover found a solid niche for itself and garnered respectable numbers for Maruti Suzuki on the sales chart.
Two years after its launch, Maruti Suzuki wants to boost the S-Cross’ fortunes by giving it a mid-life update just ahead of the 2017 festive season. The facelift gets additional features, mildly reworked mechanicals and new tech too. But the S-Cross facelift has ditched the bigger and more powerful 1.6-litre, 120PS diesel engine.
Do reworked exteriors and other additions come together to make the S-Cross more appealing? And does leaving out the bigger engine make sense? Let’s find out.
Fact check: Maruti Suzuki S-Cross outsold the Renault Duster in the last 12 months
The pre-facelift S-Cross’ design was never catchy and Maruti Suzuki has put most of their effort into fixing this shortcoming. Most of the cosmetic changes on the S-Cross facelift revolve around the face. It gets a redesigned front bumper, a bigger and wider front grille, resculpted bonnet, and a sharper headlamp design. Look closely, and elements like vertical slats of the front grille and layout of the plastic cladding on the front bumper appear to be inspired by an SUV. Though the front is now undeniably striking, those who liked the S-Cross for its sober appearance might find the new face a little too busy.
See it from the side and the front grille sharply drops down. The headlamps are also more upright, and not stooping - a reason why the front looks more aggressive now. Everything else remains identical, apart from the new alloy wheel design. Barring the tail lamp units which are differently styled now and the SHVS badge on the boot, there are no changes at the rear. Maruti Suzuki continues to offer five exterior colour options on the S-Cross, but the Urban Blue colour on the shade card has been replaced with the new Nexa Blue colour that’s there on the Maruti Suzuki Ciaz as well.
The Maruti Suzuki S-Cross could easily pass off as a premium hatchback for many. It is unmistakably bigger when compared to the sub-4m premium hatchbacks. It can also stand confidently next to the SUVs. At 4300mm in length and 1785mm in width, the S-Cross facelift is longer than the Hyundai Creta by 30mm and wider by 5mm. With the facelift, the ground clearance has also improved and now stands at 137mm (laden), thanks to the bigger set of tyres. The new 215/60 R16 wheels are wider than before, up from 205/60 R16.
|S-Cross facelift||S-Cross pre-facelift|
|L x W x H||4300 x 1785 x 1595||4300 x 1765 x 1590|
|Tyre size||215/60 R16||205/60 R16|
Try to spot the changes on the inside, and you’ll need a microscope. Apart from the SHVS telltale lights in the instrument binnacle, Android Auto connectivity option in the Smartplay infotainment system, and the smoother texture for the soft touch plastic on the dashboard, nothing’s changed.
The S-Cross’ cabin is, and always was, a comfortable place to be in. There’s adequate headroom & legroom both at the front & the rear, and the rear bench can seat three more easily compared to hatchbacks. Road noise insulation gets my vote and the cabin appears roomy despite the all-black theme, which does make it look sporty. Smart use of silver and chrome bits inside the cabin add to the premiumness.
While there isn’t much to complain about, Maruti Suzuki could have taken this opportunity to offer driver side power window up/down switch, and steering controls in white backlight instead of orange, which doesn’t gel well with the white-backlit instrument console and air con display unit. The leather-wrapped steering wheel is a bit slippery and could have had a slightly grainy or rubbery texture to it for better grip. Rear air con vents would have also been welcome. Though these misses are not deal breakers, they would have improved the attention to detail in the cabin without affecting the sticker price.
Engine and Transmission
The S-Cross facelift continues to draw power from the existing 1.3-litre, 90PS diesel engine, paired with a 5-speed manual transmission. The pre-facelift S-Cross, with the same engine-transmission combination, outsold the 1.6-litre diesel by a big margin - a reason why the 120PS engine has been discontinued.
While the 1.3-litre diesel engine in the S-Cross facelift delivers exactly the same power-torque figures as before, it is now paired with SHVS tech. Maruti Suzuki says that the addition of SHVS to the setup will aid fuel efficiency, but what’s immediately noticeable is the improved driveability at slow speeds. Where you would normally suffer from turbo-lag the torque assist feature of the smart hybrid system uses the electric motor to add some punch.
Take it out of the city on open roads and that’s where you start missing the 1.6-litre unit. The 1.3-litre engine can take the S-Cross into three digit speeds and cruise easily. However, it starts to feel strained when asked to make quick overtaking manoeuvers, even when it’s around the max torque range of 1750rpm. That’s when dropping a gear, or even two, is the only way out to pick pace. Once you go past 2500rpm, the S-Cross starts to pull neatly. Thankfully, gearshifts are smooth and sure slotting, and the clutch is light too.
Ride and Handling
The S-Cross continues to ride on the same suspension setup, but it has been slightly retuned for the bigger wheels it gets now. The highlight of the S-Cross’ ride has to be the cabin composure. Irrespective of the size or shape of the uncertainties on the road, the suspension setup ensures that you aren’t tossed around much. Yes, there’s some body roll, but it’s there only when you’re pushing the S-Cross close to triple digit speeds.
The S-Cross’ steering has some weight to it at slow speeds which some may find a little too heavy when making u-turns or entering/exiting perpendicular lanes. But the same setup gives you great confidence on highways where you can maintain a straight line without many inputs.
The most noticeable change in the S-Cross has to be the revamped exterior design which has transformed its personality altogether. The S-Cross is now less sedan-like from the front and more SUV-like and will pull in buyers who were shying away from this Maruti because of its bland exterior design.
Technically, the package has also improved, with the ride comfort impressing us considerably. Also, to make the popular engine more fuel efficient, Maruti Suzuki has added SHVS. The large and comfortable S-Cross, after the facelift, deserves to be on your shortlist of sedans or SUVs. After all, it is more sensible than before while being a lot more striking to look at too.
Photography: Vikrant Date