So Suzuki went back to the drawing board and came up with the SX4 S-Cross, which is a lot bigger and more spacious. It’s a compact family car with the height advantages of a crossover, sitting slightly lower than most compact SUVs but comfortably higher than the masses in their regulation hatchbacks.
Our test car is a top-spec SZ5 model with a 1.6-litre diesel engine and on-demand four-wheel drive. The S-Cross doesn’t come any more expensive than this and weighs in at £23,549 on the road. Which is actually very reasonable, when you realise that standard equipment includes leather upholstery, two-stage heated front seats, satnav, front and rear parking sensors, a reversing camera, power-folding and electrically adjustable door mirrors, xenon headlights, automatic headlights, rain-sensing front windscreen wipers, cruise control, a speed limiter, dual-zone climate control, stop-start, a dual-level boot floor, DAB radio, electric windows all around, a panoramic sunroof that opens, a USB port, Bluetooth, a spare wheel and keyless entry.
That’s quite a list. In fact, the only extra on this car is the white pearl metallic paint, a £430 option.
Walking around the car, drinking in its detail, you’d have to say white probably isn’t its best colour. There’s a metallic blue and a, err, “distinctive” metallic lime green that are both more flattering, but at least the silvery pearlescent finish is easier on the eye than the basic flat white. The two-tone alloy wheels are a nice touch, although time will tell whether they’re too exposed to the ravages of kerbs.
From most angles, the S-Cross looks smaller than it really is, which is the catalyst for some very positive first impressions when stepping in. It’s extremely spacious in the front of the cabin and the heated front seats feel chunky and comfortable. The dashboard is noticeably Japanese in character but feels solid enough.
It’s not the most upmarket-feeling crossover, but it’s attractive inside and – from most angles – outside, and with all that equipment on board, its value for money is way beyond doubt.
Hopping out and opening the hatchback boot reveals a flat load lip, plenty of space and a sturdy, removable boot floor. Pull at a tab to lift it and it will even hold itself at an angle while you load up the space beneath. It also comes out completely if you want it to.
Over the next few months we’ll be putting the S-Cross through its paces as an urban biffabout, a motorway cruiser and a family shopper. We’ll see how it handles a child seat (and a baby), whether the four-wheel drive system is any use, and, most importantly, whether it really can compete against the sector’s big guns.
Car Suzuki SX4 S-Cross SZ5 1.6 DDiS AllGrip
Price £23,979 as tested
Engine 4cyl, 1.6l, turbodiesel
Performance Max speed 108mph; 0-62mph 13 secs
CO2 emissions 114g/km