David Motton

See other tow car reviews written by David Motton

Updated and fresh from its class win at the 2017 Tow Car Awards, let's see what tow car skills the four-wheel-drive Suzuki SX4 S-Cross has on a longer test

Overview

Suzuki updated the SX4 S-Cross last year, replacing the inoffensive but bland styling with a more robust look.

The big grille may be a bit heavy-handed to some eyes, but there’s no doubt that the updated model is a more distinctive car – but what tow car ability does it have?

Well, the revised S-Cross won the ‘Best Budget 4x4’ prize at 2017 Tow Car Awards.

And that’s why we want to get to know the Suzuki better with some longer tows and solo drives.

Towing

Let’s get one thing out of the way from the start – you’ll need to own a light caravan if you’re going to tow it with the S-Cross 1.4 BoosterJet.

Whether you opt for the manual or the automatic we test here, the towing limit is a modest 1200kg.

The auto’s kerbweight of 1260kg gives an 85% match figure of just 1071kg.

We hitched up to a Swift Expression 442 with a Mass in Running Order of 1074kg, and the Suzuki pulled it very well indeed.

The BoosterJet really is a cracking engine. Peak torque of 162lb ft is delivered from as low as 1500rpm, so you don’t need to rev the engine hard to make decent progress.

The automatic gearbox can be a little slow to grab a lower gear, but that’s easily remedied by switching to Sport mode, which also livens up the throttle response.

Admittedly, the Suzuki wasn’t towing a heavy van, but the 10.8-second 30-60mph time is impressive nonetheless.

When we drove with the Suzuki at the Tow Car Awards, we found it to be stable unless the wind really picked up, when it started to wander slightly.

This time, our testing took place in largely still conditions, and we experienced little or no movement from the caravan.

The brakes were strong, too, hauling the outfit to a halt from 30mph in just 10.6 metres, with no shunting from the caravan.

The S-Cross handled the hill-start test well. The conventional handbrake held car and caravan still on the 1-in-10 slope and the car pulled the van to the top of the hill without fuss.

Towing up the gradient in dry conditions was no challenge for the Allgrip 4x4 system, but it’s good to know it’s there if needed.

Everyday driving

Without a caravan to pull, the 1.4 BoosterJet engine has an easy time powering such a light car.

Turn the dial beside the gearshift lever to ‘Sport’ and the throttle response sharpens, plus the automatic gearbox becomes more responsive.

Some power is also sent to the rear wheels to improve the car’s handling. And the S-Cross does handle well, especially in Sport mode.

Body movements are kept in check and the Suzuki is happy to make quick changes of direction.

However, the ride is quite firm and large bumps are felt – and heard – with a thump.

The S-Cross isn’t harsh, but it can be a little wearing on poorly surfaced roads. And, just as when towing, there’s a lot of road noise.

Space

The Suzuki can’t match a Nissan Qashqai or Seat Ateca for interior quality – there are too many hard plastics on show for that.

It does, however, offer reasonable space for passengers and luggage, with one or two important provisos.

The driver has a comfortable seating position, sitting quite high. However, the panoramic sunroof fitted to our top-spec test car steals a lot of headroom.

That’s even more noticeable in the back of the S-Cross. There’s enough legroom for a six-foot passenger to sit behind an equally tall driver in reasonable comfort, but the chances are their head will be rubbing on the ceiling.

If you rarely travel with adults in the back, the sunroof allows plenty of light into what might otherwise be a dark interior.

However, it’s a shame there are no rear-facing air vents in the door pillars or between the front seats.

The 430-litre boot matches a Nissan Qashqai’s. The variable-height boot floor can be set flush with the tailgate with hidden storage underneath, or lowered to make one large space.

Running costs

The Suzuki SX4 S-Cross is well priced compared with most of its rivals.

Our test car has a list price of £25,099. The equivalent Qashqai costs almost £500 more, has a less powerful engine and is front-wheel drive.

The nearest model in the Ateca range is over £1000 more and, again, is front-drive.

Healthy savings are there for the taking. What Car?’s research suggests that a discount of almost £2300 should be within reach.

The SZ5 sits at the top of the range, and includes leather seats (heated up front), a panoramic sunroof, adaptive cruise control and autonomous emergency braking.

The official average economy figure of 49.6mpg is impressive for a petrol 4x4, although you’ll struggle to match it in the real world. We achieved a reasonable 25.6mpg towing.

Resale values are relatively modest, with What Car? experts predicting the car will be worth 36% of the original price after three years and 36,000 miles.

Technical specs

Engine size1373 cc
Kerbweight1260 kg
85% KW1071 kg
Towball limit75 kg
Maximum towing limit1200 kg
Power138.0 bhp
Torque162.0 lb ft
Official MPG49.6 mpg
CO2128 g/km
30-60mph10.8 seconds
30-0mph10.6 m

Verdict

So long as you own a light enough caravan, the Suzuki SX4 S-Cross is a fine tow car. It is well equipped, good value and stable.

It will also tow places that most cars of this size won’t.

Conclusion

Pros

  • It's great value and you get a decent spec
  • Four-wheel drive is handy for year-round caravan holidays
  • It's a stable tow car

Cons

  • It's only suitable for light caravans
  • Interior quality is bettered by rivals
  • The ride is firm and there's a lot of road noise
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