Maruti Suzuki 2017 S-Cross: First drive review

The 2017 edition of the S-Cross has been officially launched at a starting price of Rs 8.49 lakh while the top-end Alpha variant will cost Rs 11.29 lakh (ex showroom, Delhi)

Maruti Suzuki 2017 S-Cross: First drive review
The all-new 2017 S-Cross will be sold under the Nexa flagship. (All photos Komal Badodekar/Zee Media Corporation Limited)

Udaipur: Accustomed to roaring success of almost every vehicle it introduces, Maruti Suzuki expected the S-Cross to tow the same line when it was first launched in India in 2015. Instead, the car did not buck the trend and swayed away from the success its siblings enjoyed. It remained a blemish of sorts in a product portfolio which now also has the immensly popular Vitara Brezza, Baleno and Ignis. The company however remains undeterred, and determined to turn S-Cross' tale into one with a happy ending with the all-new 2017 version.

Is it worth sitting up and taking note of? Will it replicate the success of other cars from the Maruti Suzuki and Nexa stable? Or will the competition in the broadening SUV segment continue to pull it at its seams? Here's the first-drive review of the 2017 S-Cross.

Exteriors

Majority of the changes in the 2017 S-Cross have come in how the car looks. And it is hardly surprising. One of the major factor going against the S-Cross when first launched was that it looked uninspiring. Within months of its first launch, Hyundai brought in the muscular Creta and it became a roaring success for the Koreans. And so, Maruti Suzuki decided to redo how the car looks and the fresh appeal is a step in the right direction.

The front is highlighted by a big 10-slat vertical grille that lends a purposeful appeal to how the new S-Cross appears. There is generous addition of chrome here but unlike in some other rivals - it all adds up nicely to keep things interesting. Flanking the new chrome grille are really smart projector head lights with DRLs that shine bright even in daytime conditions. The foglamps too get a chrome underbelly but yellow halogen lights look quite misplaced under the LED assembly on top. The scuplted hood however looks really classy with four lines proportioned aesthetically.

On the side, the profile of the new S-Cross remains quite similar to the outgoing model - barring few very noticable changes. The alloys are extremely contemporary courtesy dual-tone 16-inch diamond cut alloys on wider (216/60 R16) tyres. The rear is where the changes are minimum with minimalistic - but smart - LED tail lamp units being the solitary highlight.

Overall, the car continues to look more like a crossover than an SUV. But that does not mean it does not look every bit as appealing, if not more.

Interiors

Maruti Suzuki has tried to update the interiors to make the new S-Cross contemporary. And in it lies several hits as well as misses. 

The all-black interiors with satin chrome accent finish go a long way in emphasizing on the visual upgrade here. The soft touch dash and pleasant seat fabric design make for a decent experience on the inside as well. The steering is nice and chunky while the seven-inch infotainment system now has Android Auto, Apple Car play, and is connected to four speakers and two tweeters. It also has voice command feature enabled which can additionally be controlled via an app.

Other elements in the feature list includes automatic airconditioning, rain-sensing wipers, gear shift indicator and anti-pinch driver side window which rolls down the glass when it senses an obstruction - among others.

The front seats - once again - are well appointed and offer decent back and underthigh support which should keep long-distance journeys quite snug.

The story for the rear passengers, however, may not be quite the same. For starters, missing rear AC vents is a scorcher of a blemish and one that cannot be forgiven in Indian weather conditions. Also, there are no charging or USB or AUX ports for people at the back. Not even on the top-end.

Space is nothing much to boast about either with two adults at the back being comfortable but adding a third adult making things a bit too close for comfort. The headroom though is adequate while the boot continues to be big enough for weekend getaways.

Drive

The S-Cross will be available only in the 1.3-litre diesel option which the company has now branded as the DDiS 200. While a big letdown for enthusiasts who may have been banking on the return of the 1.6-litre option, it is really not surprising that it was not brought back considering the sales figures for it in the previous version.

All said, the 1.3-litre option holds its ground and will grow on those behind the wheels. The new S-Cross is quite steady and stable, and even with speeds well into triple-digits, the car remains beautifully composed. The 2017 edition comes with torque assist function that keeps the car going well on straight lines. Uphill sections and turns though are a different challenge.

The gears have to be played with more aggressively during climbs making uphill sections of the drive a bit taxing. There is also a bit of bodyroll for the rear passengers which could have been addressed better. Another aspect on which the company could have done better is the NVH levels which, even in the new version - is not much to write home about. It is adequate at best and slightly jarring at worst.

The trump card here though is in Maruti's hybrid technology (SHVS) making its way into the S-Cross which will add to the mileage. For regular city commutes, therefore, the pros manage to nudge past the cons.

Safety

Apart from ABS with EBD, dual front airbags as standard, disc brakes on all four wheels as standard, the S-Cross also complies with upcoming crash tests in the country for full frontal impact, frontal offset impact and side impact. It also meets the pedestrian protection compliance while ISOFIX child seat anchorages and seatbelt pre-tensioners with force limiters are good addition.

Verdict

The S-Cross has come quite a distance from when first launched. Not that it inherently had many flaws back then but the intense competition was too much for it too handle. In its 2017 version, the car has indeed uplifted itself to offer more than before. The car has been officially launched at following price points:

Sigma: Rs 8.49 lakh*

Delta: Rs 9.39 lakh*

Zeta: Rs 9.98 lakh*

Alpha: Rs 11.29 lakh*

(* Delhi ex-showroom prices)

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