Maruti Suzuki has already proven its worth and domination in the small car category for ages now with the offerings like Maruti 800, Alto (K10, 800) Wagon R and Swift. India is considered as small car market but the recent trends suggest that the entry level car segment isn’t fruitful enough as it was few years ago and it also shows that Indian passenger car market is in transformation phase. Why compact SUVs and crossovers are getting more popular than the entry or premium hatchbacks? Well, the reason is that Indian buyer has started liking the more muscular, butch looking vehicles. Ever since the Ford Eco Sport made its way to Indian streets, every other car maker is trying to match it with their respective products.
Having said that, India’s no 1 car maker has already tried its luck in premium segment with offerings like Baleno, Kizashi and Vitara. But all these products failed, which suggest that a customer is not interested in spending million rupees for a Maruti. The compact SUV and crossover segments have been on cloud 9 with cars like Ford Eco Sport, Renault Duster, i20 Active and Fiat Avventura. Maruti Suzuki introduced Ciaz sedan last year which is accepted by the masses and getting good number for the maker. Maruti Suzuki is all set to crack premium segment with new S-Cross crossover and it has decided to sell it via NEXA dealerships which care especially made for company’s premium cars. We took S-cross for a spin to find out if it will be prove to be a success story or a hat trick of failures.
The car maker is portraying it as a premium crossover which costs in the price range of Rs. 8.34-13.74 lakhs (ex-showroom Delhi). The diesel variants start at Rs. 11.99 lakh which goes up to 13.7 lakh mark, we doubt that customers will pay such a huge amount for a Maruti.
Engine and Performance:
In Maruti Suzuki S-cross, you get two diesel engines to choose from- 1.3l DDis motor which generates 89bhp power and 200Nm of torque and a new 1.6l unit producing 118bhp and 320Nm of torque. S-cross is the only Maruti vehicle not to get a petrol engine because the company think the buyers are not incline towards the Petrol SUV’s or Crossovers.
We got to drive 1.6l engine which as expected had weaken lower end punch up to 2000rpm and there is very little action up to then. Start up the engine and get welcomed with a little vibration in the cabin, though NVH levels are pretty solid and you won’t feel any sound inside the cabin while at idle while Hyundai 1.6l engine is in different league altogether.
The gear ratios aren’t smooth with gears pitching in without the fuss and one can cruise about 120km in sixth gear while tachometer is at 2000rpm. Along with smooth gear ratios, the steering wheel is light, agile and responsive which makes driving easy.
After surpassing the 2K rpm mark, it’s all about a blend of power and performance and it offers impressive open road drivability. On highways, all it takes is a little push on acceleration paddle to surpass cars on the sides, thanks to strong mid-range. The bigger 1.6l engine propels the vehicle to touch triple digit speeds with ease.
The ride quality is also very nice as it manages to absorb most of what our roads can throw at it. The S-cross is one of the best handlers by Maruti stable we have driven and clearly has an edge over the competition. Braking performance and stopping power is also good thanks to the all four disc brakes.
The S-cross in India has been deprived of Suzuki’s All grip AWD system and AT gearbox as both these are available in some international markets. Hyundai Creta, its counterpart is equipped with an automatic gearbox which might push S-cross behind the curtains.
Overall, with slight initial turbo lag Maruti Suzuki S-cross still remains the car for keen enthusiast as it delivers powerful top end performance.
Space and Dimensions:
The premium crossover is not a sub 4m vehicle as it measures at 4300mm in length, 1765mm in width and 1580mm in height. The cabin of S-Cross is a comfortable place to be in; front bulky seats are well cushioned and supportive with good lateral support. The driver seat get height adjustability feature which has a great range.
The primary issue in most compact SUVs or crossovers is the rear bench space but in case of S-Cross, it is probably its strongest point. The high raised rear seats roost them higher than the front passengers which make you seat in a chair like position. The width of the vehicle is more than enough to accommodate three adults without much of knee room, shoulder space issues and 60:40 rear spilt function adds some versatility to it. The Indian-spec version offers 353 liters of boot space which is 20 liters less than the International variants.
The design of S-cross would give you a Déjà-vu kind of feeling as the front fascia bears resemblance of Maruti’s not so successful sedan SX4. Maruti Suzuki calls it a premium crossover but it looks more like an overgrown hatchback or a Wagon vehicle. Practically, all compact SUVs can also be called a Crossover but due to muscular and rugged styling it falls under compact SUV segment which Maruti Suzuki S-Cross lacks due to lower height.
The front end is styled with a twin chrome grille which houses a big Suzuki logo though international model get three horizontal grille. Maruti has given S-Cross big HID projector headlamps (first in segment) packs with LED strip which isn’t a DRL, making it a first Maruti to get that feature. It is available only on top variants, the base trims get conventional headlamp units.
To add muscular element and premium appeal to it, S-cross features a black bumper which is edged by faux silver skids and circular fog lamps with chrome accents. Overall, front end is the strongest point of the vehicle with a smooth and fuss free design though it’s not a head turner.
Side profile which reveals the true hatchback character of the vehicle carries the aerodynamic design which does look good with bonnet lines merging into A-pillar. The 16 inch alloy wheels isn’t impressive, Maruti could have introduced sportier wheels. It does have black cladding all around, faux skid plates and roof rails but still it ends up looking like a big hatchback. At rear, it gets spilt tail lights which do resembles one like Eco Sport’s and if MSIL is calling it a premium crossover then it could have given some LED touch to the taillights to add some premium feel to it.
There are five colors available- granite grey, urban blue, Caffeine brown, premium silver and pearl arctic white.
Interior and Safety:
While exterior profile isn’t a strongest point of the S-cross but on the inside it impresses us on a first glance. The cabin features all black theme with soft touch material and brushed silver inserts on central console, AC vents and steering wheel. The hexagonal central console houses a 7-inch touchscreen system with bluetooth, navigation, six speakers and quality being best till date. In addition, the 18cm screen also serves for reverse parking camera assistance.
The three spoke leather wrapped steering wheel which has carried over from cheaper Marutis which comes with controls for cruise, voice command, Smartphone and audio to add premium feel. Just behind steering wheel, there is instrument cluster with illuminated blue rings and white fonts look sporty. The MFD sports average fuel economy, average speed and instant fuel economy with some additional settings.
Storage spaces are good inside with large door pockets which is capable to swallow 1 liter bottle, there is a huge glove box, large parcel shelf, twin cubbyholes between the front seats, map pockets and rear armrest with two cup holes to keep your odds and ends. The 2600mm of wheelbase offers generous amount of space inside which is well complimented by good positioning of seats. A speed sensitive auto door-unlock feature and rear AC vents would have been a welcome inclusion. Maruti Suzuki has given S-Cross features like keyless entry, start/stop button, ORVM controls, automatic wipers, climate control AC and 60:40 rear spilt to justify its premium tag.
It’s good to see that Maruti has acknowledged the safety aspect in S-cross as all the variants get dual airbags and anti-lock braking system (ABS) as standard except the base sigma trim which only get a driver side airbag. The Hungary based S-Cross received 5-star safety ratings from ASEAN NACP but it has side and curtain airbags which aren’t offered in India. Besides, it comes with all four disc brakes, anti-pinch technology, central locking and engine immobilizer.
The S-Cross is the most expensive Maruti on offer in India and it looks a promising and well packaged product. It might not have the best design but it has been the case with most Maruti cars. The company has played a trump card by providing a 1.6l engine which will surely attract keen drivers. In terms of equipments, it beats Duster and Eco Sport but then it loses out on handling and off road ability. If you’re a brand loyalist and wants to upgrade then S-cross is best offering from Maruti Stable which is available in the market. The S-Cross will be sold via NEXA dealerships which are limited in numbers right now but expect it to grow at a rate of knots. The company is planning open 100 dealerships by the end of this year. Overall, S-cross is combination of space, features and being a Maruti, the ownership experience should be of top notch as well. As a product, it is a very practical product but will a customer is ready to spend a million on Maruti? We let the sales number speak.