Suzuki S-Cross Hybrid (2020 - 2021) used car review

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By Jonathan Crouch

Introduction

In 2020, Suzuki's S-Cross compact SUV gained the brand's mild hybrid tech in uprated 48-volt form. And at the same time, also gained a fresh 'K14D'-series version of the company's 1.4-litre Boosterjet petrol engine. The electrification claimed to deliver a 20% running cost improvement but otherwise, the S-Cross recipe was much as before. So there was plenty of space for a crossover of this size, lots of kit for the money and, unusually in this class, the option of a proper lockable 4WD system in the top version. Let's check this car out as a used buy.

Models

5dr SUV (Petrol -1.4 Boosterjet 127bhp)

History

Electrification is a fact of automotive life these days and one day soon, every model from every brand will feature it in some way. In 2020 though, only one manufacturer had applied electrified power to every car in its line-up and its identity might surprise you: Suzuki. That sounded all very forward-thinking but there were a few caveats. We're not talking about full-electric or plug-in models here; back in 2020, Suzuki didn't have any of those. It didn't even then have a Prius-like full-Hybrid powertrain.

'Hybrid' in this case means what other brands call 'mild hybrid' technology. With this, unlike with those other forms of electrification, the car can't ever run on electric power alone at normal driving speeds. But harvested electrical energy can be used to marginally improve efficiency. The brand introduced this tech in 12-volt form back in 2016 with its little Swift and Ignis models. Here, it uprated the system to 48-volt status and fitted it to its slightly larger cars, including the S-Cross compact SUV, which is our subject here. The S-Cross Hybrid was launched in 2020 and sold in this form until late 2021, when it was facelifted and re-titled merely the 'S-Cross'. It's the 2020-2021 S-Cross Hybrid models we look at here.

What You Get

There were no visual changes with this S-Cross model's switch to Hybrid power. By 2020, it had been on sale since the end of 2013 and the version we look at here is the model that was facelifted at the end of 2016. It remained a mid-sized 'Qashqai'-class SUV that was practically sized but somewhat forgettable in looks.

Up front inside, it's an inoffensive but not unpleasant piece of design and the fixtures and fittings feel well screwed together from the Hungarian factory, although some of the materials are a bit scratchy. The centre-dash infotainment screen has graphics that look a bit after-market but it certainly includes quite a lot, with sat nav and 'Apple CarPlay'/'Android Auto' smartphone-mirroring as well as a DAB tuner and Bluetooth.

At the rear, the generous 2,600mm wheelbase length frees up plenty of interior room (the 430-litre boot is one of the biggest in the class). And there's very decent rear seat space too. Though the bench doesn't slide, the backrest reclines though a choice of two angles. The twin sunroofs of the top SZ5 model do rob a few centimetres of headroom though.

The boot is about 20% bigger than the trunk you'd get in smaller supermini-based Crossovers from this period - Mokkas, EcoSports and so on. And you can make good use of the space available thanks to a neat false floor that lifts to reveal hidden storage. There's also a pair of lidded cubbies hidden behind the rear wheel arches, plus shopping bag hooks and a 12V power supply. Only if you need more space than the basic boot area provides might the S-Cross disappoint, for pushing forward the split-folding rear bench only increases your capacity up to 875-litres - around half what you'd get from some rivals. It does help though, that if you position the false boot floor properly, you can get a totally flat load bay.

What You Pay

Prices for this SX4 S-Cross Hybrid start at around £13,900 (around £16,000 retail) for a '20-late car with base SZ4 trim, with values rising to around £15,400 (around £17,500 retail) for a '21-era car. For the ALLGRIP model with plush 'SZ5' trim, you're looking at around £19,350 on a '20-plate (around £21,500 retail), with values rising to around £23,100 (around £25,500 retail) for a '21-era car. All quoted values are sourced through industry experts cap hpi. Click here for a free valuation.

What to Look For

We came across quite a few satisfied buyers in our S-Cross ownership survey, but some owners had problems too. One experienced the engine cutting out completely (twice) on the move in a 1.4 Boosterjet variant. Reports of crunchy-selecting 1st and 2nd gears on manual models were frequent. And quite a few electrical issues were reported. In one case, lights were coming on and off. In another, there was an issue with the electric window motors. The camera safety kit sometimes came on for no reason in some cars - and didn't function properly in others. There were several reports of the stop/start system not working properly. And quite a few owners felt the sat nav didn't work properly. One owner had a problem with the Hill Start Assist not working. Otherwise, there shouldn't be too much to worry about. Look out for the usual scratched alloy wheels and signs of child damage in the back. And favour cars that have a properly stamped-up service history.

Replacement Parts

(approx prices based on a 2020 SX4 S-Cross Hybrid 1.4 Boosterjet petrol ex VAT) An oil filter costs around £4-£6. An air filter is around £6-£12. Rear brake pads sit in the £28 to £59 bracket for a set but you could pay in the £25 to £57 bracket for front pads. Rear brake discs sits in the £60-£75 bracket; front discs sit in the £30-£95 bracket. You'll pay around £10 for a thermostat and a water pump will sit in the £90 bracket. Wiper blades cost between £10 and £12.

On the Road

You may be familiar with the way that mild hybrid engines work but just in case not, here's a quick re-cap. Basically, energy that would otherwise be lost when braking or cruising off-throttle is harvested via a kinetic energy recovery system and sent to a small lithium-ion battery that here has been placed beneath the front passenger seat. This is used to drive a belt-driven 'ISG' unit (an 'Integrated Starter/Generator') and power the engine's stop/start system. Suzuki's old 12-volt mild hybrid package didn't do a lot more than that but this improved 48-volt set-up can also deliver a couple of other important benefits. The first is something quite unusual amongst current mild hybrids - the ability for this Suzuki to idle and even coast on full-electric power, though only below 10mph.

The other fresh benefit here was something that by 2020 was supposed to be quite common amongst mild hybrid models - the ability to 'torque-fill' under acceleration to compensate for turbo lag. Which is just as well because this S-Cross Hybrid's 'K14D'-series 1.4-litre Boosterjet petrol engine in this form had less power than the unit of the same size it replaced (127bhp rather than 138bhp), plus the car's electrified tech added 65kgs of extra weight (in the case of the ALLGRIP 4WD version). But there this Hybrid version had more torque (up from 230 to 235Nm). The 62mph sprint takes 10.2s en route to 118mph. There was no longer an auto gearbox option. And that proper lockable ALLGRIP 4WD system was optional on the top-spec 'SZ5' variant.

Overall

The prominent 'Hybrid' badging here might lead you to expect more efficiency benefits than are actually delivered. Suzuki's previous 12-volt mild hybrid technology certainly sometimes left you with that feeling. This S-Cross model's 48-volt mild hybrid set-up was an improvement on that previous SHVS system but its effect on everyday running costs, though welcome, was still somewhat marginal.

But every little helps and the 48-volt tech was certainly a step forward here in the way it better assisted with pulling power and allowed for fully electrified progress below 10mph. It gave this car an extra selling point - and that's never a bad thing.

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