I can’t recall the number of conversations I’ve had with people about the S-Cross since it was launched. It was a bold move by India’s largest car maker and naturally it got talked about a lot. Sadly, all those conversations had one common point — the S-Cross did not look the part, more so because India loves SUVs and we were expecting the S-Cross to be an SUV. Maruti spent millions clarifying that it is a crossover, but the looks remained a sore point. Two years later, all the feedback from the press and customers has had an impact and the S-Cross is looking splendid in its new avatar. I was told by more than one Maruti Suzuki official at the S-Cross drive that this is much more than a facelift. Some even got offended when I called it that.
I understand their point and you will, too, when you look at the car. Maruti Suzuki has invested close to Rs 100 crore on this, er, refresh — and I say it is money well spent. The company hasn’t left anything out and has given SUV lovers what they want — a new muscular bonnet, a new headlamp cluster with LED projector lights and LED DRLs, a new bumper design and the unmissable large 10-slat chrome grille with chrome surrounds. The profile stays the same and the rear gets a token LED tail-lamp cluster, too. My favourite bit is the 16-inch machined black and diamond-cut two-tone alloy wheels. They look really cool!
The inside is a different story, but then, to be fair, none of the above-mentioned conversations featured any complaints about the S-Cross’s interior. The dashboard design stays simple, clean and premium — the way it was earlier. The touchscreen now features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard, but there is still only one USB port. Maruti says there are new soft-touch elements, but I won’t suggest looking for them. The seats are again as comfortable as they were before, but now come in new leather upholstery (on two variants). Despite switchgear being shared with other family members, the S-Cross continues to feel premium. Fit and finish is still, I feel, the best in a Maruti. The long feature list from the outgoing model is carried over, too, like cruise control, auto headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, keyless entry, rear parking sensors, reverse camera and all. In addition to that, dual airbags are standard on all variants along with ABS and rear Isofix mounts. No rear AC vents or a sunroof yet, though.
All good news till now, right? Well, we can’t have just that, so let me give you some bad news. The lovely 1.6 DDiS 320 engine has been denied duty in the new S-Cross. Customer feedback again, and though it’s not difficult to understand why, I am sad to see it go. Except the heavy clutch, it was a really fun-to-drive motor. Now, the sole choice you have in the S-Cross is the trusted servant of the Maruti Suzuki family, the 1.3-litre diesel which really doesn’t need an introduction. The power and torque figures stay unchanged, too, at 90 bhp and 20.39 kgm, and in this case I am happy to report that familiarity doesn’t breed contempt. The engine performs as you expect it to and that is indeed a good thing. The NVH levels are still a bit high for my liking, something I was hoping Maruti would address, but that is bothersome only at lower revs. The gearbox is nice and slick again as it is in any model paired to this motor
The new S-Cross gets new tyres, too, from 205/60 R16 to 215/60 R16, and the new JK UX Royales are definitely an upgrade when it comes to a quieter performance. On the powertrain front, the biggest miss, I feel, is the lack of an automatic transmission. Maruti has it reasons, and some of the were explained in detail, but I think this was a good opportunity to offer an automatic option and make the car appealing to a wider cross section of buyers.
The new bit about this motor in the S-Cross is that it now comes with SHVS, Maruti’s mild-hybrid system which debuted on the Ciaz. Using an integrated starter generator motor, SHVS offers a mild (read barely noticeable) torque-assist function, a start-stop system and brake-energy regeneration. The aim is aiding fuel efficiency and Maruti claims a 7 per cent increase in the same, thanks to the SHVS, along with a reduction in CO2 emissions to 105.5 kg/m from 115 kg/m.
Whether you think of this is as a facelift or call it the all-new S-Cross, as Maruti does, I think Maruti has done what was needed. Let me rephrase that, Maruti has almost done what was needed. This refresh, facelift or mid-life update, if you will, addresses most of the common criticisms of the S-Cross and it is heartening to see India’s largest car maker listening to its customers, unlike some of its competitors. The S-Cross is deservedly Maruti’s flagship and it offers everything the present-day customer wants: comfort, practicality, technology, safety, ease of ownership and now good looks, too. Do I expect the it to outsell its competition after this update? I’ll let you know after some more conversations around the S-Cross.
Prices for the new Maruti Suzuki S-Cross start at Rs 8.49 lakh for the Sigma trim. The top-spec Alpha is available for Rs 1.13 lakh. There are four trim levels like before (Sigma, Delta, Zeta, and Alpha) and five colour choices (with the Nexa Blue being the new inclusion).
For more photos of the new Maruti Suzuki S-Cross, have a look at our gallery