It appears everyone wants a slice of the Crossover pie. Most major car manufacturers in India have taken a crack at it in the recent past, with varying levels of success. The process has largely involved an increase in ride height, the inclusion of scuff plates and plenty of plastic cladding around the edges of the car and the application of the word ‘Cross’.
Maruti Suzuki appear to have been biding their time, closely observing the competition from the top of their market share pile, with the intention of coming out with a more refined product. The result is the all new Maruti Suzuki S-Cross. It’s accompanied by a tagline that reads ‘the premium crossover’ which, if read closely enough, suggests Maruti’s inclination to refurbish its existing image as a mobiliser of the Indian multitude.
The S-Cross is also a crossover, it too has plenty of plastic cladding around the edges, and while it doesn’t possess any particular talent for off-roading, it is more practical than your average sedan or hatchback. However, it’s dimensions and attributes make it a better match for cars like the Ford EcoSport, the Renault Duster and the Nissan Terrano than the slew of raised hatchbacks that are doing the rounds.
The S-Cross is pleasant enough to look at. A strong jawline, pronounced bonnet and large headlamps gives it a very distinct looking front, but things start to get a bit mundane as you move along the side which is more MPV-ish in appearance. That said, there is something pleasingly understated about the design which doesn’t attempt to look more robust than it is. It’s quite European. Maruti Suzuki have decided to dispense with a petrol motor, instead providing us with 1.3 and 1.6 litre turbo-diesel options.
I took the 1.6 litre diesel for a spin around the plains of Nashik, pleased by the generous levels of torque poured into the motor. The 1.6 turbo-diesel makes 32 kgm of torque with a total power output of 118 bhp. The turbo kicks in after overcoming a bit of lag at 1800 rpm, surging towards the 3500 rpm range after which power begins to taper. With the meat of the power lying between the 2-3500 rpm mark, the car feels reasonably quick. The 6-speed manual gearbox works smoothly enough, with tall gearing working well with the meaty mid-range.The car I was driving was the top of the line Alpha variant, which had the most well-specced interior. It’s clean, spacious and refreshingly beige-free with all black, all leather seats, a leather- wrapped steering and a soft-touch dashboard with a slick touch screen multimedia unit housed in the middle. Along with the standard multimedia features (including voice control), the car packs in cruise control, a reversing camera, push-button start, dual airbags and ABS, the latter being available across all but one variant – the Sigma 1.3.
With its well finished interior quality and ample space, the S-Cross appears quite appealing for the young adventure aficionado it’s aimed at. To make things more streamlined Maruti Suzuki have decided to sell it through their exclusive network of NEXA showrooms, each of which will feature, for now, only the S-Cross and a sales experience that would involve dealing with just one sales executive who will be your go-to guy for every purchasing or servicing need.
In profile, the S-Cross seems to be quite wholesomely put together. It’s fairly roomy, with a fairly balanced suspension setup that reduces body roll to a minimum. It’s adept at handling fairly cratered roads thanks to relatively high ride height, and it can be quite good fun when kept in the middle of the power band. Although the prices haven’t been revealed yet, the car seems to have all the ingredients to take on the likes of the Terrano, Duster and the EcoSport.