The S-Cross has crossed over from the diesel side to petrol power in its switchover to BS6 emissions compliance. We get behind the wheel of the updated crossover to experience its change of heart.
Maruti Suzuki’s petrolification of its entire new car model range has seen the final car in its existing model line-up being converted to petrol power. As a result, the earlier diesel-only S-Cross crossover is now available with a new heart. The engine in question is Suzuki’s 1.5-litre, four cylinder K-Series motor that also does duty in the Brezza, Ertiga, XL6 and Ciaz. And like in the other cars, the K15B petrol motor develops 103bhp of max power and 138Nm of peak torque. The engine is fitted as standard with Suzuki’s mild hybrid technology and the car is offered with a choice of a five-speed manual gearbox and a four-speed torque converter automatic transmission. Considering the change of heart of the S-Cross, we thought it was a good idea to drive the new automatic variant to see just how different the S-Cross now feels out on the road as compared to its earlier diesel manual avatar.
Going from turbo diesel power to petrol propulsion from a naturally aspirated engine brings with it the upside of not having any turbo lag during initial acceleration. This will have made the S-Cross manual easier to drive in stop-start traffic (much like all of the other cars that this engine powers). This automatic version of course makes things even better by using the engine’s linear power delivery to deliver steady acceleration followed by smooth gear changes from the torque converter automatic gearbox. As a result, the S-Cross has transformed to deliver a seamless driving experience.
It’s not all smooth sailing for the updated S-Cross though, for NVH is on the higher side during initial acceleration, owing also to the tall 1st and 2nd gear ratios, which results in an intrusive soundtrack from the powertrain at initial speeds. And considering that it’s this range of the powerband that is most used under normal urban driving considering, it is definitely the Achilles heel of the S-Cross automatic. Move into the higher reaches of the rev band though and the pleasant petrol engine sound track takes over.
This brings me to the character change of the S-Cross, the earlier diesel model’s meaty mid-range is now gone as there is none of that low-end diesel torque to allow for a sudden surge of power after the turbo spools. Instead, now you will experience mellow low-end response form the efficiency oriented engine which then leads to a more spirited nature in the 4,000-6,000rpm range. But then again, while the automatic gearbox isn’t slow in kickdown response, it isn’t especially quick either. Plus the lack of higher gears means the car isn’t the most spirited to drive owing to the taller gear ratios. So, it is indeed a very different experience from behind the wheel now.
Being a petrol car now, the S-Cross is no longer as fuel efficient as the earlier model and while its ARAI rated figures appear reasonable, only a tank-to-tank test will reveal its real-world fuel efficiency. Having said that, in my past experience I have found Suzuki’s mild hybrid tech to be very effective and result in commendable fuel efficiency. But we will have to see how it performs in automatic guise in the S-Cross as the power sapping torque converter gearbox does not have higher gears to allow the car to cruise at lower rpm at medium to fast speeds.
Stepping up its premium appeal
The updated S-Cross otherwise retains its core strengths as earlier since there are no other changes to the car apart from the new SmartPlay Studio infotainment system. So you have a spacious cabin with plenty of space and legroom for all occupants. The seats are nice and supportive and the suspension setup is a very comfortable and stable one. Which also means the S-Cross retains its commendable highway touring abilities with its wide footprint and low centre of gravity that gives it great stability at high speeds. The steering wheel too is very direct and offers a linear feel that makes you feel confident. The petrol S-Cross then builds on its premium crossover appeal with a more comfortable driving experience than earlier.
- Maruti Suzuki S-Cross 1.5
Engine: 1,462cc / 4-Cylinders / 16 Valves / DOHC
Power: 103bhp @ 6,000rpm
Torque: 138Nm @ 4,400rpm
Transmission: 4-Speed Automatic / Front-Wheel Drive
Price: ₹12.39 lakh (Ex-showroom, India)
X-Factor: An alternative to compact crossover SUVs with superior drive dynamics.
• Spacious cabin
• Supportive seats
• High NVH
• Needs more appeal