Maruti S-Cross 2017 review: A facelift done right
Launched in 2015, the S-cross was the first car for the company to be sold out of Maruti's new and upmarket Nexa retail network. And with the Grand Vitara and the Kizashi bowing out, the S-Cross is the flagship and the most premium offering of the range. No wonder then, that despite selling a humble (for Maruti) 53,000 units in two years, the company is not giving up on it. The S-Cross is back with a fresh face, a host of tweaks and for the first time, a mild-hybrid system
The biggest change is to the face in a bid to address the S-Cross' biggest weakness, its uninspiring appearance. The S-Cross gets a muscular new bonnet, with strong character lines and there's a large, toothy grille with strong chrome accents. Only the top Alpha model gets LED projector lights and LED daytime running lamps, while the lower three variants make do with halogens. The front is rounded off by an eye-catching new bumper and the overall design, while not classically pretty, is quite striking and certainly enhances the road presence of the S-Cross.
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Visually, the S-Cross gets a breath of fresh air and the fresh face catches a lot of attention. This will, no doubt, get more people into the showroom.
The interiors are quite familiar and largely carried over, and, though there are more soft-touch materials, the overall cabin feels quite plasticky and lacks the luxury quotient of cars in this price bracket. The touchscreen display is the same, but it now supports both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. We had a go at the latter and found it nice to be able to use the phone functions from the car's screen; but the system is a bit slow to respond. On the top two variants, the dashboard uses a new, high-gloss piano-black treatment and also gets some satin-polished chrome trim. If you opt for the top Alpha variant, you'll get leather upholstery as well.
The front seats are comfortable and supportive and the driving position is quite adjustable thanks to rake and reach adjustment for the steering wheel. The rear remains quite spacious and comfortable, but passengers at the back will miss having AC vents. The 375-litre boot houses an additional 12V power outlet and is large enough to hold luggage for a short vacation. The seats fold flat in a 60:40 split, allowing you to further increase space as needed.
The S-Cross has a good feature set in the top model, including auto headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, cruise control and more. The switchgear is shared with most Maruti products and you don't get the lovely full-colour multi-information display from the Baleno. Buyers at this price point will have liked the option of a sunroof too. Happily, the S-Cross now offers dual airbags, ABS and rear Isofix mounts as standard on all variants.
The S-Cross now comes with just one engine as Maruti has dropped the previous 1.6-litre diesel from the line-up, leaving just the 1.3-litre diesel engine. Also, there is no automatic option and, again, it's down to the fact that the only option is an AMT, which the company is hesitant to use as the drive feel of an automated manual gearbox isn't good enough for its flagship model. That leaves just the ubiquitous 1.3-litre diesel with a five-speed manual gearbox for the S-Cross, but the engine does see something new with the addition of Maruti's smart-hybrid technology.
With 90hp and 200Nm, the engine is adequate for the S-Cross for normal driving but when you want to drive with a sense of urgency, it's a bit underpowered. On the bright side, the gearbox has a nice and slick feel while the clutch is not overly heavy. This mild-hybrid set-up also features a start-stop system and brake energy regeneration. Ride comfort is good, with a supple and planted feel that absorbs all but the nastier potholes in the road. Factor in the generous ground clearance, and the S-Cross can handle broken roads without stress. High-speed behaviour is excellent as well.
As before, the S-Cross is just the right size to be a practical family car, while remaining compact enough to deal with the urban crawl. The updated S-Cross will be launched in a few days and pricing should be similar to the outgoing version, perhaps with some marginal increments. We expect the four variants to be priced between ₹8.2 and ₹11 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). The S-Cross has received a fairly big makeover, but it continues to be a practical and pleasurable vehicle to drive and be driven in.