Maruti S-Cross facelift 2018 road test review

New face, check. new design for alloy wheels, check. Improved feature list and interior, check. Price still same as before, check. These checklists you see here all define the new Maruti S-Cross facelift for the model year 2018. The Maruti S-Cross was a product which at one point of time had to resort to a “price correction” to boost sales. Now, if you see, the numbers say that this crossover is comfortably selling close to 3,000 units each month. So, is it just the factors mentioned in the first line that have contributed to it or is there something else? We find out.

 

Design of the new Maruti S-Cross

Maruti S-Cross

The Maruti S-Cross 2018 facelift was launched late last year. It has come at the right time and in fact has a head start on rival Hyundai’s Creta. That being said, the earlier S-Cross used to look a bit hatchback-ish. This one seems more matured as well as aggressive. The grille of the new Maruti S-Cross, at  first glance, seems like one from a BMW. The bonnet too has a bulging effect. I like the way Suzuki has restyled this SUV. It packs in the muscle now. New bits include slight re-profiling of the headlights with LED DRLs, bumpers, skid plate, fatter JK UX rubber, LED tail lamps and a Smart Hybrid badge. Yes, the S-Cross now gets SHVS. This Nexa Blue colour that you see is also a new addition.

Maruti S-Cross

Interior of the new Maruti S-Cross

You may not find much here from the previous S-Cross. Only that this time around, the dashboard seems to have been done in a glossy black colour. There is the usual aluminium outline to almost all parts of the dashboard. The meters have a blue background, much like the ones in the Ciaz. Remember, this is a mild hybrid after all. The seating position and steering wheel are spot on. What I didn’t particularly like are the seat height adjust stalk. It feels flimsy for a premium crossover. There are still no rear AC vents but the central auto climate control is powerful enough to reach the rear seats. There is a single USB plug point and this one rests under the armrest. Maruti still offers Apple CarPlay with the S-Cross’ 7.0-inch touchscreen music system. The sound quality is decent but audiophiles will want to upgrade.

Maruti S-Cross

The rear seat is decently comfortable and can seat three abreast. The boot space is just about adequate though few more inches of space wouldn’t have hurt.

Engine and transmission of the new Maruti S-Cross

Maruti uses the tried and trusted 90PS/200Nm 1.3-litre DDiS engine with the S-Cross now. In fact, it is the lone engine now for this crossover. The powerful 120PS 1.6-litre diesel has been axed. Back to the S-Cross’ 90PS motor now. I must say I expected it to be a tiring experience. The previous S-Cross’ clutch was a bit on the heavy and springy side. This made modulating it a pain in the traffic. This one has a nice and light clutch action. The engine has suddenly become very tractable. You can no longer feel like the engine is trying to build power below 1,800rpm. I was doing 3rd gear at 25kmph and there still wasn’t any protest from the gearbox or engine. What has caused this change?

Maruti S-Cross

It is the Smart Hybrid Vehicle System or SHVS as it is commonly known. SHVS brings in start-stop technology, an integrated started motor and a bigger battery. The integrated starter motor during motion converts the potential energy during braking into kinetic energy. It is then stored in the battery and used to restart the car everytime the start/stop comes into play. This starter motor becomes a generator and assists the engine during low load situation such as crawling in traffic. Additional torque is sent to overcome the lack of punch below a certain rpm.  What I didn’t like is unlike Mahindra’s stop/start mechanism, this one cuts off immediately once the car is put in neutral. Maruti could have dialed in a few seconds delay before cut off. This will help in saving more fuel and prevent untimely engine restarts.

Maruti S-Cross

I also noticed that the steering wheel gets power assist for sometime when the SHVS is working. After which, the assist goes off and you’re left with a heavy steering wheel in hand. This doesn’t pose a big problem as I understand that the power assist is on when the engine is on. Anyways, you already are in neutral, which means you aren’t going anywhere right then.

What truly impressed me apart from the new found driveability of this motor is the efficiency. After the Maruti Celerio diesel, the S-Cross 1.3 had me smitten. An efficiency of 18kmpl in the city with the airconditioning and three grown-ups on board. That’s what it was giving me. In choc-a-block traffic, the S-Cross still refused to fall below the 17.2kmpl. On the highway though, the number didn’t rise above 22.4kmpl. Still fantastic numbers for a car which weighs more than a tonne.

The Maruti S-Cross facelift’s engine does need a downshift while trying to overtake or make up that gap in traffic. It is a leisurely performer in this car and if you accept it, the S-Cross will reward you for sure. Maruti have also ensured that NVH is on the lower side to give customers the premium feel.

Ride and handling of new Maruti S-Cross

During my previous stint with a magazine, I had the S-Cross as a long term vehicle for sometime. The vehicle’s bumpy ride quality didn’t leave me impressed back then. This time around, Maruti seems to have worked on this. The S-Cross’ ride quality is quite pliant. In fact it won my admiration and is easily one of the best riding crossovers after the Duster/Terrano. The suspension does its job silently too.

Maruti S-Cross

The steering wheel too is okay and does its job efficiently. Handling of the S-Cross felt neutral and predictable. Unlike the Brezza though, this one doesn’t take to corners like a fish to water. It likes taking corners at a medium pace. JK’s new UX Royale tyres  seem more fuel oriented but they provide for a silent ride quality and decent grip.

Safety of the new Maruti S-Cross

Like before, dual airbags, ABS with EBD are standard on the S-Cross. It now also has ISOFIX child seat mounting points as part of the standard equipment. Disc brakes on all four wheel ensure good stopping power. Repeated high speed braking attempts though produce brake fade. Auto headlights, cruise control and rain sensing wipers too are part of the mix.

Verdict

Maruti S-Cross

I quite like the Maruti S-Cross facelift. It is now better looking, has more appeal, a sorted ride quality and very good fuel efficiency. It is also backed up by Nexa service and now by  the Suzuki Connect too. Prices start from Rs 8.61 lakh and go all the way to Rs 11.32 lakh, ex-Mumbai. At this price point, it makes sense to go for the S-Cross considering that its competition like the Hyundai Creta and Renault Duster are priced higher. However, both these have petrol as well as automatic options. If you need a very fuel efficient diesel and venture out on the highway twice or thrice in a month, look no further than the S-Cross.

What we like about the new Maruti S-Cross

Road presence, fuel efficiency and ride quality

What we don’t like about the new Maruti S-Cross

A more powerful engine will not hurt, rear AC vents, slightly different switches and knobs than other Maruti cars

 

Trivia

Maruti Suzuki had contemplated bringing in the S-Cross in 2005. However, the compact SUV segment didn’t quite work out at that time. In fact, it was non-existent. In came the SX4, a sedan based on the same platform. It did decently before making way for the Ciaz.

Images by Donald Dsouza

 

 

 

 

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