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First drive: 2023 Suzuki S-Cross Full Hybrid. Image by Suzuki.

First drive: 2023 Suzuki S-Cross Full Hybrid
We’ve sampled the S-Cross in mild hybrid form, but will the Full Hybrid be the variant of choice for UK customers?


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2023 Suzuki S-Cross Full Hybrid

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We've already tested the S-Cross in Mild Hybrid form, but now Suzuki has launched a new and even more electrified version. The new S-Cross Full Hybrid is designed to be more efficient and less polluting, as well as being the only option for those who want an automatic S-Cross. But is that enough to make this the S-Cross to have?

Test Car Specifications

Model: 2023 Suzuki S-Cross 1.5 Full Hybrid AllGrip Ultra
Price: £32,099 (as tested)
Engine: 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol hybrid
Transmission: six-speed automated manual, all-wheel drive
Power: 115hp (petrol engine) 33hp (electric motor)
Torque: 138Nm (petrol engine) 60Nm (electric motor)
Emissions: 132g/km
Economy: 48.7mpg
0-62mph: 13.5 seconds
Top speed: 109mph
Boot space: 293 litres


It's quite difficult to tell the new S-Cross Full Hybrid from its Mild Hybrid sibling, mainly because there's no real difference. Both cars get the same basic design, with the upright grille and chrome touches, but the Full Hybrid is differentiated by the 'Hybrid' badge on the back. Whereas the Mild Hybrid gets blue lettering on a silver background, the Full Hybrid's badge swaps those colours around. Alternatively, you could just look through the window, because Full Hybrid S-Crosses are now the only ones to be offered with automatic transmissions.


Suzuki has tried to make the S-Cross’ cabin more modern than before, and the design is a little more exciting than we’ve come to expect from Suzuki models. But it’s still a little agricultural, with lots of hard plastics kicking about, including the silvery bits around the centre console. It’s solid, but not necessarily luxurious. The headline, however, is the central touchscreen that’s more modern than the clunky systems that have gone before it. Everything is relative, though, and the system still looks a bit ‘00s compared with the more upmarket screens used by rivals – especially the navigation system. But it all works, and that’s what matters most to prospective customers.


The S-Cross wasn’t the most spacious car in its class before Suzuki fitted the Full Hybrid system, but now it’s decidedly cramped. The new powertrain has cut the boot size by more than 130 litres, giving the Full Hybrid a miserly 293-litre load space. Admittedly, all this loss has occurred beneath the false floor, so most customers won’t really notice, but it isn’t a good look. Nor is the space in the rear, which is best described as ‘tight’. The panoramic sunroof of the top-spec Ultra model doesn’t help – it makes headroom very tight for tall passengers – but legroom is no better than adequate, and fitting four six-footers in the cabin is possible, rather than easy. That said, it’ll be fine for couples or for those with young children.


The S-Cross Full Hybrid has essentially the same powertrain as the hybrid Vitara, combining a 1.5-litre petrol engine with an electric motor and an automated manual gearbox. The engine produces 115hp, while the electric motor adds another 33hp, but the problem child is the six-speed transmission. From the outside it looks and works much like a normal automatic – you only get two pedals – but it’s really a manual ‘box under the skin. That means it’s sluggish to change gear, which brings out the worst in the engine, which roars and drones at higher engine revolutions. Of course, you might think that’s a small price to pay for efficiency, but the truth is this powertrain isn’t especially economical. Where the basic mild hybrid manual S-Cross manages 53.2mpg, the equivalent Full Hybrid manages 54.3mpg, which is a fairly meagre improvement.

Ride & Handling

It's a shame the Full Hybrid powertrain is so bad, because the S-Cross isn't a terrible car to drive. Yes, the steering is a bit numb and lifeless, but there's plenty of grip and the body roll is progressive and well controlled, even if it does ultimately roll quite a lot in corners. Add in an impression of lightness and it feels quite agile and manoeuvrable, both in town and on more open roads. And although it's quite comfortable most of the time, there's a kind of fragility to the ride that's less pronounced in manual Mild Hybrid models, but it gives it a slightly brittle quality at times. It never gets too jiggly or jarring though.


Suzuki is very proud of the S-Cross as a value proposition, and it's true that with prices starting at less than £25,000, the Mild Hybrid S-Cross isn't expensive. Especially when even basic Motion models come with a seven-inch touchscreen, heated seats and parking sensors at the front and rear, as well as a reversing camera, alloy wheels and keyless entry. But upgrading to the Full Hybrid adds the best part of £2,000 to the asking price. And if you choose the top-of-the range Ultra, the price increases further still, topping £31,500. Admittedly, that gets you leatherette upholstery, satellite navigation and a bigger touchscreen, as well as a 360-degree manoeuvring camera and a panoramic sunroof, but the S-Cross suddenly stops looking so cheap...


In manual, Mild Hybrid form, the S-Cross was an uninspiring but worthy budget SUV, but while Suzuki promised an improvement in many ways, this Full Hybrid isn't it. It's only marginally more efficient than the Mild Hybrid and considerably less pleasant to drive, not to mention being less practical and more expensive. We know which one we'd rather have.

James Fossdyke - 23 Jan 2023    - Suzuki road tests
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2022 Suzuki S-Cross Full Hybrid. Image by Suzuki.2022 Suzuki S-Cross Full Hybrid. Image by Suzuki.2022 Suzuki S-Cross Full Hybrid. Image by Suzuki.2022 Suzuki S-Cross Full Hybrid. Image by Suzuki.2022 Suzuki S-Cross Full Hybrid. Image by Suzuki.

2022 Suzuki S-Cross Full Hybrid. Image by Suzuki.2022 Suzuki S-Cross Full Hybrid. Image by Suzuki.2022 Suzuki S-Cross Full Hybrid. Image by Suzuki.2022 Suzuki S-Cross Full Hybrid. Image by Suzuki.2022 Suzuki S-Cross Full Hybrid. Image by Suzuki.


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