Consider carefully your reasons for buying into the Suzuki brand. For some motorists, Suzuki is a leftfield choice. It is an oddball. It plays by slightly different rules. Highly respected for its engineering stance, its designs are often very attractive and set standards.
Yet, compliance with other groupings and variations on themes seldom forms the true Suzuki remit. To be saleable, sometimes Suzuki has to meet niche market expectations, which means that it follows the small-medium-large scenario across its range, in its unique ways. However, SUV is one of those niches that has become exceptionally popular, to such an extent that every carmaker and its dog seems to have representation in it.
Vitara is assuredly an SUV. It possesses all of the qualities inherent to classification in the niche, albeit delivered by Suzuki in such a competent manner that it is not a high-riding, unstable, or incapable, multi-surface, multi-modal motorcar, as it engages with its owners of all ages, with a comforting, warm hug of confidence. By retaining its individuality, it exceeds most customer requirements, often without them noticing.
However, the outstanding S-Cross, despite being classified as an SUV, manages defiantly to be not so much a rival to the Ford Kuga, the Peugeot 3008, the Mazda CX3, or even the Range Rover Evoque, BMW X3, or Audi Q3, but rather a more direct competitor to the Audi A3 Quattro, the Subaru Impreza, or an alternative to a Volvo V40 Cross Country.
Is it a compromise? Well, yes, it is but it is not demanding that its owners compromise one little bit. In fact, it is much more a ‘crossover’ model both by name and nature. Just because it possesses a little bit of bracken-deflecting black plastic trim on its wheel-arches, or some alloy lookalike bumper detailing, does not make it an SUV.
Yet, show an S-Cross your favourite A, or B, road and it is a car in its element, capable of providing unerringly stable, rapid, comfortable, fun and safe driving traits. Like ALL 4WD Suzukis, the S-Cross rides sublimely and noiselessly, absorbing road surface imperfections with benign indifference and with an all-weather confidence that can shame a Subaru.
However, there is a twist in its sobriety thanks to its AllGrip constant four-wheel-drive. It will extract you from a muddy field, should you dial-in the differential Lock. It is undeterred by slimy leaves, slippery slush and even heavy snowfall, which suggests that it can perform ‘like an SUV’ when called upon to do so. S-Cross is a true lifestyle car but to suggest that it is SUV-compliant and wears that uniform is to miss the point.
Is the Suzuki S-Cross an SUV? Hell, no! Is the Suzuki S-Cross the consummate driver’s car? You had better believe that it is!
Luscombe’s summary: With the keenest of prices on the latest S-Cross models, you can own a spacious, durable and enjoyable all-seasons motorcar from the Suzuki line-up that will satisfy 99.9% of your motoring needs.
Next week: Iain reflects on the classic Cappuccino two-seater.
Suzuki and 4WD are happy bed-partners
It may amaze you to know that Suzuki offers no less than five of its seven-strong model line-up in cost-efficient four-wheel-drive optional, or standard, forms, writes Iain Robertson, which constitute around 25% of its total UK sales.
Suzuki groups its 4x4 technology under the same AllGrip banner, although, to be more specific, there are three different variations on the theme. Ignis and Swift offer ‘AllGrip AUTO’, Vitara and S-Cross benefit from ‘AllGrip SELECT’, while the more seriously-focused Jimny is equipped with ‘AllGrip PRO’, which offers both High and selectable Low gear ratio sets.
AUTO is an automatic and permanent 4x4 system that transfers engine torque to the rear wheels, as and when they require it in adverse conditions, or to retain the car’s dry road balance, using what is known as a viscous coupling. While I am not suggesting that you should bound across broken surfaces, or rough terrain, in your Ignis, or Swift, believe me, if asked, either of those AllGrip models will dance a jig over them and not let you down. If the system detects wheel slip, it compensates without requiring driver intervention. There is an added fillip for Ignis owners (not available on the Swift), in that Hill Descent Control can be selected by the driver, effective at speeds of up to 15mph in either first, or second, gears.
SELECT is fitted as standard on the Vitara S (optional on SZT and SZ5 versions) and 1.4-litre versions of the S-Cross in SZ5 trim (optional on 1.0 SZT). It is an ingenious system, as it places no burden on either the driver, or the environment. A switchable system, it offers no less than four driver-selectable settings (Auto, Sport, Snow and Lock) for different surfaces and environmental challenges. The system monitors the skid potential constantly and apportions engine power/torque accordingly to the driven wheels. The Vitara AllGrip also benefits from Hill Descent Control.
PRO offers Jimny drivers a ‘transfer gearbox’, which contains both high ratio (for open roads) and low ratio (for tricky conditions) gear sets. However, there is no messing around with clambering in and out the car to lock-up the front hubs, as they feature freewheeling hubs that can be locked automatically, when 4WD is selected at speeds of up to 62mph (in a straight-line, to avoid transmission ‘wind-up’). As the Jimny is Suzuki’s least compromising 4x4 model and a potential workhorse, it receives the AllGrip system best suited to its multiple roles.
Luscombe’s summary: For the ultimate driver safety, Suzuki’s AllGrip technology is available in three different guises. If you need to have them explained to you, just ask any of our advisors and we can demonstrate their capabilities to help you to make the right choice.
Next week: Iain contemplates the Suzuki mindset.
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