Maruti's quest to go up market is not a newly found drive as the company tried this attempt number of times before. Be it Baleno or Kizashi, SX4 or Ciaz, company has regularly made attempt to seen as credible premium automaker. However, no effort can match the intensity of the determination Maruti has shown with the launch of S-cross. Not only company has deviated from its value for money policy by pricing S-cross at a premium, it has gone one step ahead by selling the new proposition only through its newly launched premium automotive showrooms chain named NEXA.
We assume that being exclusively available only in NEXA showrooms surfaces as a big gamble on the part of the company. On the one hand, there will be challenge to establish new S-cross in market and on the other, rapid expansion of NEXA chain is another strenuous task to complete. That said, Maruti is quite confident about S-cross as the company feels S-cross has got all the makings of a winner. In fact, S-cross does look and feel a formidable opposition as far as spec-sheet reads. But then we at ECARDLR know that there is much more that lies secretly beneath the specifications and dimensional guises; something that can be uncovered only through our comprehensive road-test review. We get new S-cross, put it under our scanner and here's our first impression.
Maruti S-cross is undoubtedly a handsome looking crossover though design inspirations inherited from SX4 is clearly visible. Angular projector headlamps with LEDs and DRLs, multi - slatted grille and a bit low slung nose remind more of SX4 than anything else. All around subtle cladding is a good sophisticated touch and it’s nice to see company desisting from going overboard about it.
Strong shoulder line sweeping upwards and typical kink towards the end of rear door make the things interesting for the S-cross. Rear too is jazzy, sporty, and a bit flat encapsulating large boot space inside. Overall S-cross looks good, feels sporty, and sure to draw stares at least for once.
Interiors of this crossover are built around the theme of simplicity and practicality. All-black theme inside the cabin is adopted to arouse premium feel which the car does feel. Infotainment system sits right in the middle of central stack with climate control located right below it. Front seats are genuinely spacious though driving position feels a bit low. However, there is provision of seat height adjustment as well as of steering wheel reach and rake; making the right driving position quite easy to find.
Slip into rear and occupants can sit in utmost comfort and convenience. Rear bench with foldable middle armrest is spacious enough to have three passengers abreast though for a long distance, two persons are the ideal number. Seats are well supported and even thigh support is good enough to keep you comfortable.
With strict two seating rows, S-cross opens up large space for boot. You can literally move office, if not the house, as S-cross has got plenty of trunk space. Spare wheel is neatly concealed under the boot area though this is regular wheel not the alloy.
Engine & Transmission
S-cross is available only in diesel variants for now. It sounds a bit bizarre but then its the way Maruti thinks that things will work for them. Available in two diesel engines 1.3-litre and 1.6-litre, the models are named after their net torque output. While 1.3-litre makes 200 Nm of max torque, 1.6-litre dishes out 320 Nm of rotating force. We took the latter bigger one to spin and found that engine is quite punchy in its power delivery and strong mid-range torque. Its refinement is not in the league of benchmark set by Hyundai's diesel as this oil-burner clatters and a bit tad noisy. However, once it starts revving in the mid-range, it becomes less intrusive. Performance is very contagious, and quite addictive. Strong torque spread throughout the rev-range makes S-cross deliciously flavoured for performance-seekers. Especially on highway, S-cross feels very much confident and aggressive too.
The bigger 1.6-litre motor is mated with 6-speed manual transmission while smaller 1.3-litre channelizes the power through 5-speed manual gearbox. Gear shifts are smooth, direct and inspiring. The gates are well defined and only issue we felt with somewhat heavy clutch. All-around disc brakes, on the other hand, have very good bite and are quite efficient in their operation.
Being a crossover requires a good driving dynamics and S-cross doesn’t disappoint on that front. Owing to its supple chassis and taut steering, this Maruti delivers a good dynamics on both ride and handling. Slow-speed ride is found a bit jittery though both stability and comfort increases as the car picks up the speed. Cruising at triple digit whack is quite easy for this Maruti crossover and person sitting behind the wheel is equally comfortable handling this new Maruti.
Most of the handling prowess of S-cross can be attributed to its perfect steering that points the crossover in the intended direction very precisely and accurately. We would have liked it better had the steering been weighted more at speeds. There is some king of vagueness that manifests more in straight line when S-cross is cruising in triple digit speed.
As stated earlier, S-cross is not a cheap buy with price hovering between Rs 8.34 lakh - Rs 13.74. It doesn't fare well on value for money but then this aspect is not Maruti is interested in targeting customers with. The nub of the matter is to appeal more affluent prospects, and that's exactly what S-cross intends to do. It looks upmarket, has got premium all-black interiors, powered by punchy diesel motors (especially 1.6-litre) and drive like a true crossover. Healthy ground clearance, spacious interiors and excellent boot space foster the overall appeal of this Maruti. We don't have any inhibitions in stating that S-cross is steeply priced and although it ticks all the right boxes, it will be interesting to note how many prospects will bite a Maruti at such a price point.
Style & Substance 4/5 Ride & Handling 3.5/5
Interiors & Ergonomics: 3.5/5 Safety & Equipment 4/5
Power-Plant & Transmission 4/5 Fuel Efficiency 4/5
Value for Money 3/5