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Driven: 2023 Suzuki S-Cross Mild Hybrid. Image by Suzuki.

Driven: 2023 Suzuki S-Cross Mild Hybrid
First impressions of the S-Cross were a mixed bag, but the Suzuki has grown on us since its introduction…


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2023 Suzuki S-Cross Mild Hybrid

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5

At Car Enthusiast, a first drive is exactly that – a brief spin in a new model that usually takes an hour or so. But we often find while first impressions are often broadly accurate, it takes a bit longer to really get under the skin of a car. And so it proved with the Suzuki S-Cross, which we struggled to love at first, but now sits a little higher in our affections.

Test Car Specifications

Model: 2023 Suzuki S-Cross Ultra 1.4 BoosterJet Mild Hybrid AllGrip
Price: S-Cross from £26,099, Ultra from £30,899
Engine: 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol
Transmission: six-speed manual, all-wheel drive
Power: 129hp
Torque: 235Nm
Emissions: 133g/km
Economy/Range: 47.8mpg
0-62mph: 10.2 seconds
Top speed: 121mph
Boot space: 430 litres


We weren't that taken with the S-Cross' exterior design when we first drove it, and we haven't warmed to it much since, but that doesn't mean it's awful - far from it. Yes, it's a bit generic, but it's handsome enough in a conventional sort of way, and it certainly isn't repulsive in the way, say, a Nissan Juke might be. In fact, in the metallic blue Suzuki offers it's reasonably attractive, although some other colours in the relatively limited palette don't do it too much justice.


The cabin was one of our main gripes when we first drove the S-Cross, with Suzuki's attempts to modernise feeling a bit lacklustre. Sure, it's less bland than the old S-Cross, but it still feels old compared with rivals such as the Nissan Qashqai and Cupra Formentor. The conventional dials feel especially dated, particularly in a top-of-the-range example such as our test car.

Build quality is generally pretty good, though, even if some of the materials are a bit cheap, not least those around the centre console. That said, this is a reasonably cheap car, and some economies are to be expected, but the cheapness of the upholstery in high-end cars - and its susceptibility to absorbing heat on sunny days - makes us think the basic Motion model might be better value.

The technology is old before its time, too, although in fairness to Suzuki, it's much better than the systems fitted to the previous-generation S-Cross. But with clunky graphics and slightly laggy operation, it definitely feels like something from the early 2010s at best. At least it works pretty well with the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity systems, which make up for its shortcomings somewhat.

All that said, the S-Cross' cabin is easy enough to get along with. Buttons are where you expect them to be, things work as they should and we can have few complaints about the way it has been stitched together. It may not feel modern, but that isn't necessarily a disaster.


Though the S-Cross may not be modern inside, it is at least roomy enough, albeit a little short of the class best. The 430-litre boot is roughly on a par with the Volkswagen T-Roc and it's much more than you'll get from most family hatchbacks, while rear space is sufficient for most. Tall passengers might find legroom less generous than in some other SUVs, and top-end models have a glass roof that impinges on headroom slightly, but space is certainly adequate across the range.


The S-Cross offers a choice of two different engines, both of which are confusingly endowed with the 'Hybrid' moniker. The S-Cross Hybrid tested here is the cheapest of the two; a mild-hybrid 1.4-litre petrol powertrain with 129hp and a six-speed manual gearbox. In top-of-the-range models, it comes with all-wheel drive as standard.

That engine is considerably better than the S-Cross Full Hybrid, which combines a 1.5-litre petrol engine with a hybrid system and (woe of woes) an automated manual gearbox that shifts ratios with the alacrity of a stoned sloth. It's dire, and it's to be avoided at all costs.

Which leaves you with this mild-hybrid model, and that's absolutely fine. Performance is unremarkable but adequate, with 0-62mph taking around 10 seconds, while there's a bit of off-road capability thanks to Suzuki's AllGrip all-wheel-drive system and the driving modes that help to manage the power delivery. It's efficient for an all-wheel-drive car, too, achieving around 50mpg on a long run, assuming you drive in a reasonably (but not excessively) restrained manner.

Ride & Handling

Perhaps surprisingly, the S-Cross handles relatively well. Nobody is about to mistake it for a hot hatchback or even a hot SUV, but it offers reasonable body control and plenty of grip, even if the steering is a bit too light for our taste. Still, that at least means it's easy to manoeuvre in town or when you're off-roading.

The gearbox is good in a subtle, unassuming way, by which we mean you don't really notice much about it. It isn't especially snappy, but it doesn't cause any trouble and the clutch is well judged in terms of weight and precision.

Unfortunately, the ride is a bit of a weak point, with that body control coming at the cost of some comfort. It isn't disastrously jiggly or anything like that, but it feels a bit firm compared with the slightly more mature and more refined VW T-Roc.


At just over £26,000, the basic S-Cross Motion is very competitively priced, particularly for a car that comes with keyless entry, front and rear parking sensors, and heated front seats, not to mention 17-inch alloy wheels and the Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration tech. The high-end Ultra is slightly less impressively priced, at just under £31,000, but that still isn't bad for a car with all-wheel drive as standard, a 360-degree manoeuvring camera and satellite navigation, as well as a panoramic sunroof.


At first, we struggled to get to grips with the S-Cross' pre-aged interior and slightly clunky infotainment system, and they are still the weak points in this car's armour. However, with all-wheel drive, a competitive price tag, an efficient powertrain and decent handling, there's plenty going for the Suzuki. But what our second taste of the family SUV has really shown us is that though it may not be remarkable, it's incredibly easy to live with, and that counts for a lot. And whatever you do, go for the Mild Hybrid, rather than the Full Hybrid.

James Fossdyke - 28 Sep 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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