When going on holiday, not everyone will be travelling with a caravan the size of the average two-bed semi. So when it comes to towing, plenty of people simply need a modestly sized vehicle that can haul a small-to-medium trailer with ease. And the car should preferably be one that doesn’t consume too much fuel in the process and requires relatively inexpensive consumables such as brakes and tyres. That’s precisely where the Suzuki SX4 S-Cross comes in: it has compact dimensions, it’s strong and capable, and it shouldn’t cost a fortune to run.
Suzuki entered the crossover market way back in 2006 with the first-generation SX4, a car that replaced the terminally dull Liana hatch and which was identical to the Fiat Sedici in all but badging.
This was a small machine, though, which tended to limit its appeal, despite the kudos of entry in the World Rally Championship. So Suzuki decided to move up a class, with a second SX4 S-Cross (the original vehicle continued on sale for a time after the second model was launched).
With the larger vehicle came a larger audience, some of whom were keen to use it for towing. So it was just as well Suzuki saw fit to equip the car with either two-or four-wheel drive and a range of smallish, but still lusty engines.
Suzuki was decidedly envious of the runaway sales success that was the Nissan Qashqai, so clearly had that car squarely in its sights when developing its own crossover.
Styling wise, the SX4 looks rather like a cross between a conventional hatchback and an SUV. To some, it’s a fair compromise; to others, it’s neither here nor there.
Still, Suzuki gave the S-Cross a great start in life by setting its starting price at just £14,999. Yes, for that sum you got the two-wheel-drive 1.6-litre petrol model in entry-level spec, but the presence of air conditoning, alloy wheels, cruise control and Bluetooth meant buyers had no reason to feel hard done by.
Something else the interior features in abundance is space. Up front, there’s loads of head- and legroom for even tall adults to stretch out comfortably.
Behind them, the rear seats are raised, cinema-style, to give occupants a good view, which should minimise the chances of motion sickness. The higher seating does have a slight impact on rear headroom, although the legroom here is generous.
Good news for tow car buyers comes in the form of a boot that’s beyond generous for the class, so you’ll be able to carry plenty of stuff for long weekends away.
Up front, two engines were offered at first: a 1.6-litre petrol and a 1.6-litre turbodiesel. There were manual and auto gearboxes on offer, and both models were also available with four-wheel drive for extra traction on slippery surfaces.
In 2015, Suzuki introduced an efficient twin-clutch automatic gearbox, then in 2016, the company gave the SX4 S-Cross a facelift, taking the opportunity to provide two new engines: a 1.0-litre with 110bhp and a 1.4-litre version of the same engine with 138bhp.
Before the facelift, we’d have said that the diesel was the better option for tow car buyers, but following the tweaks, we’d go for the 1.4-litre BoosterJet version (the diesel was eventually phased out for 2020, and today the only engine available is a 1.4, 127bhp mild-hybrid version).
With this pre-2020 1.4 engine, the car has a towing limit of 1200kg. That isn’t much, but it does perform its haulage duties with ease. It accelerates with intent, and stops quickly with no wandering or other dramas.
Driven solo, the SX4 S-Cross is satisfying. That’s largely down to its surprisingly sporty handling, although the downside of this is that the ride quality is also on the sporty side.
Better still, your average fuel economy figure will start with a ‘four’ at minimum.
Finally, servicing is incredibly cheap: according to Servicing Stop, who provide our figures, an interim service will cost you less than £100, while a full service will set you back £112. That’s got to be a bargain.
Great news – the SX4 S-Cross is largely free from niggles and grumbles. Reported issues have been with individual cars rather than being indicative of model-wide faults.
Having said that, the car has not been completely free from the dreaded recall letter. The first ‘bring it back’ notifications arrived on owners’ doormats in 2014, following concern that the rear-differential oil level could have been a bit short of where it should have been, owing to an incorrect filling procedure when the vehicle was built at the factory.
The following year, the S-Cross was recalled once more, this time because there was a risk that a fuel-tank mounting strap had been incorrectly constructed, and could be prone to breakage. There have been a handful of other recalls since. You can check whether any potential Suzuki purchase has outstanding recall work by visiting.
The Suzuki SX4 S-Cross may not be a natural at the top of tow car users’ lists, but to ignore it would be to do it a disservice. As long as you don’t ask too much of it, it’ll tow happily, and it won’t cost too much, either.
It makes a surprisingly sporty companion when driven solo, and is roomy enough for five adults (just) and plenty of luggage. Best of all, the SX4 is available at bargain prices.
Suzuki SX4 S-Cross // Need to know
How much? £4000-£20,000
The SX4 S-Cross isn’t the sort of car in which people tend to do a high mileage, so there are many low- to average-mileage examples out there on the market.
A budget of around £5500 will net you an early 1.6-litre petrol SZ3 with a mileage of less than 80,000 on the clock, while a similar budget can get you a 1.6 diesel with a similar mileage.
Increase your spend to £8000 and you can get your hands on a high-spec 1.6 SZT with fewer than 30,000 miles under its belt.
You’ll need to up your budget to £13,000 if you want one of the Booster Jet engines – we’d say they’re worth it.
What will it tow?
- Kerbweight 1260kg
- Towing limit 1200kg
- Noseweight limit 75kg
- 85% match 1071kg
How much is a towball?
- Swan-neck towbar £165.46
- Witter detachable towbar £256.59
- Fitting extra (from www.pfjones.co.uk)
What about servicing?
- Interim service £77.05
- Full service £112.14
- Prices supplied by Servicing Stop
|Top tug: 1.4 SZS Booster Jet Allgrip
Engine nicely balances towing strength and fuel economy. Heated leather seats and panoramic sunroof are standard.
Barge pole: 1.6 SZ3 120
Doesn’t have enough low-down torque to make pulling away with a trailer easy, and struggles the faster you go.
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It's oompact on the outside but roomy inside. It doesn't make a fuss when towing and is an entertaining companion when solo.