Full Hybrid Version of Popular Compact SUV
With all Suzuki models now offered being electrified, here’s the latest addition to the popular compact SUV in the line-up, the S-Cross. For 2023, it gets a full hybrid, in addition to the mild hybrid it was launched with just last year – which I previously reviewed.
That version, which was a 48-volt mild hybrid, basically meant that it provides assistance to the starter motor and a little extra boost to acceleration, which adds to the available torque, and reduces fuel consumption and emissions.
A key advantage of going down the mild hybrid route, and one that Suzuki has exploited more than other manufacturers who also offer ‘MHEV’ (Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicle), is that you can still have a manual gearbox. Suzuki is particularly good at providing enjoyable and engaging three-pedal stick-shift transmissions, so it’s a relief to hear that MHEV with manual is still available.
However, if you want an automatic version of the S-Cross, it’ll now come with this new full hybrid set-up, which will come with a choice of front or all-wheel drive.
Basically, you get a 1.5-litre petrol engine with a 24kW Motor Generator Unit (MGU) as Suzuki calls it, with a 140 Volt Lithium-Ion battery. The powertrain was previously introduced on the Vitara and Suzuki’s data indicates that 40% of buyers choose the full hybrid, while 60% continued to opt for the MHEV.
This provides 115bhp and 138Nm of torque which results in rest to 62mph acceleration in 12.7 seconds for the two-wheel drive and 13.5 seconds for the 4WD. CO2 emissions are 118-132g/km and fuel economy is as high as 54.3mpg.
Two trims are available, Motion priced from £26,749 for the front-wheel drive and Ultra priced from £31,549 for the four-wheel drive. The only option is the metallic paint for about £550, but the level of standard equipment is impressive.
All cars come with 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights and daytime running lights, lane keep assist, blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert, keyless entry and start, parking sensors, 7-inch infotainment screen, Android Auto and Apply CarPlay, dual zone climate control, heated front seats, reclining rear seat and adaptive cruise control.
The Ultra spec adds ‘AllGrip’ All-wheel drive, 360-degree camera, leather upholstery, panoramic sunroof, 9-inch infotainment screen and navigation. There’s also a new Suzuki Connect phone app which comes with a free first year subscription.
With the full hybrid, you do lose a little cargo space in the boot, where the cavity beneath the two-level floor is replaced with shallow trays instead of a deep cavity. But the split folding rear seats remain, as does reasonable rear accommodation space – for reasonably-sized adults that is. Upfront the situation remains as comfortable and intuitive as before.
In addition to two driving modes, Eco (which reduces some of the air conditioning modes and acceleration) and Standard (which you should pretty much leave it in), for the AllGrip model you also have several further modes.
Again, it’s best to leave it in Auto, as that selects the best place to send the drive for the circumstances – whether that’s two- or four-wheel drive. Most of the time this will be pushing torque to the front wheels.
Sport mode however, will favour all-wheel drive for better grip, while Snow mode isn’t just for snow, but for any situation where you need four-wheel drive. Meanwhile Lock mode makes use of the Limited Slip Differential to ensure power goes to the wheel with the best grip.
We managed to put this all to the test on the media drive event, running the S-Cross up muddy hills and tackling some mild off-roading with ease. The terrain wasn’t particularly challenging, but it’s reassuring to know that the car is capable of more than you’ll probably demand of a family SUV of this type.
Another unique feature of this car is the AGS which stands for Auto Gear Shift, a kind of automated manual where the clutch is operated automatically. You might worry, that this would leave an alarming interruption as the systems changes gear, as used to be witnessed on early such systems. However, the transmission cleverly employs the MGU to fill in the gaps in torque with electric power.
In reality this translates not to extra oomph between gear changes, but an effort to make them a little more seamless and frankly the gearbox feels like a regular torque-converter auto, so you need pay this particular feature no further attention. There’s not too much to be gained from using the paddleshifts and there is a limiter at 6000rpm.
Indeed, you could say that about the S-Cross as a whole, in that it’s a car that does pretty much everything right without asking much of you the driver. It has a decent ride and comfort combination, and the composure is better damped than most hybrids with light easy controls making this an easy SUV to pedal.
But is it a fun family car? While performance is not the most exciting thing on offer, the fact is that it actually revels in tackling twisty roads staying relatively stable and keen to respond to your inputs to the light steering. It’s not a sports car, by any stretch, but it’s not entirely dull either.