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Review – Suzuki S-Cross full hybrid Ultra

What is it?

THIS is a new version of the latest generation S-Cross SUV which launched in December 2021, adding the option of what should be a more fleet and business-friendly full-hybrid drivetrain alongside the mild hybrid that powered the initial models.

The hybrid system is the same as that debuted nine months ago in the sister SUV to the S-Cross, the Vitara, and which has since become the best-selling Vitara variant. It matches a 1.5-litre petrol engine to a 24kW electric motor and a 140-volt lithium-ion battery.

Available in Suzuki’s standard two trim levels dubbed Motion and Ultra, and with all-wheel-drive standard on Ultra models, the full-hybrid S-Cross replaces auto-transmission versions that were launched with a mild-hybrid drivetrain. If you want a manual gearbox then you have to make do with mild hybrid too.

According to Suzuki the full hybrid pushes fuel economy to 54.3mpg in the 2WD model and 48.7 with all-wheel-drive, which are surprisingly miniscule improvements over the mild hybrid, on average just a couple of mpg with similar improvements on emissions – so not a vast draw for those seeking lower BIK or PCP payments.

Despite having a 1.5-litre engine compared to the 1.4 unit of its mild hybrid sister the newcomer is less powerful, at only 115hp losing some 14 horses. This of course affects acceleration – in 2WD form the full hybrid takes 12.7 seconds to pass 62mph from rest compared to 9.5 seconds for the mild hybrid. Go for all-wheel-drive and you’ll be waiting a whole 13.5 seconds to reach the A-road speed limit…

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The technology is proven, Suzuki buying into the expertise of hybrid pioneer Toyota, but even so on the road the S-Cross does not exactly write any headlines. It’s reasonably smooth, especially around town, though the engine note is noticeable at high speeds and the auto transmission can be a little indecisive before changing up.

This is a capable SUV, however. The launch event included some off-roading, nothing too dramatic but far beyond what the majority of buyers will subject their S-Cross to. Suzuki’s AllGrip system on the 4WD models offers four modes including a lock, enabling the car to easily ascend steep inclines and plough through deep muddy fields.

Where the S-Cross scores is in what you get – we’ve previously described the mild hybrid as good value for money and the full hybrid comes with equally impressive equipment levels as standard, including a full set of active safety features.  You have to go for the Ultra to get such niceties as a 360-degree view camera, panoramic sunroof and on the larger 9-inch infotainment display a satellite navigation system, but the latter is not exactly a necessity as all models come fitted Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and therefore direct access to the likes of Google Maps.

What do we think?

The good points first – the Suzuki S-Cross is a well-made car and once people get in it they like it and what it represents. Suzuki is regarded as the third most trustworthy brand, of any type, in the UK behind first Direct Bank and John Lewis. And according to National Franchised Dealer Association satisfaction surveys the brand’s outlets are happy places too which inevitably leads to happy customers.

The interior of the S-Cross feels comfortable and the driver’s environment is sensibly designed, with no host of buttons or over-complex touchscreen menus to navigate just to do something as simple as change the air conditioning – the centre infotainment screen is well placed and easy to read whether you have the seven-inch version in the Motion or the full nine inches of the Ultra.

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Suzuki claims not to offer ‘entry-level’ models and the S-Cross lives up to this brief, with a very long list of equipment even on Motion versions. Such niceties as a rear parking camera, heated front seats and adaptive cruise control come as standard, while the safety specification is particularly praiseworthy with the likes of a blind-spot monitor, lane departure prevention and rear cross-traffic alert all on the standard list.

On the road the S-Cross full hybrid is perfectly acceptable, comfortable to travel in and adequate if not enthusiastic in the performance stakes. And it can do what’s needed off-road too.

The disappointment? Well the full hybrid makes very little difference to one’s real-world motoring, with economy and emissions figures hardly improved over the mild hybrid versions it replaces. We’re effectively being asked to pay around an extra £1500 for the S-Cross auto.

Having said that, those figures are still better than rival full hybrids such as the Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage, and enough to put the S-Cross in a 2% lower company car tax bracket, being cheaper to buy and with more equipment as standard.

At £26,749 for the 2WD Motion, and £31,549 for the AWD Ultra variants, the Suzuki S-Cross Full Hybrid is still a good value-for-money option.

Suzuki S-Cross 1.5 Full Hybrid Ultra 4W AGS

P11D Value: £26,749 – £31,549

Engine: 1.5-litre petrol full hybrid

Max power: 115hp

Max speed: 108mph

0-62mph: 13.5 secs

Fuel consumption: 48.7mpg

CO2: 132g/km

VED: £220 (yr 1), £155 (yr 2)

 

 

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