NEXA is a new sales network, through which Maruti Suzuki will be selling its premium cars in future. A brand that’s never known for luxury or premiumness, Maruti is all set to change that image with the new chain and future premium products.
The first car that makes to the NEXA outlet is the S-Cross, a premium crossover. Built on a completely new platform, the S-Cross is tasked with the responsibility of catapulting the brand into new territories.
The S-Cross is quintessential crossover – raised ground clearance, integrated roof rails and black body cladding giving a familiar rugged look. However, this one looks more special and original than most of its rivals that have added a “Cross” to their hatchback siblings.
Although the S-Cross has an aggressive nose comprising xenon projectors with DRLs, faux skid plates and thoughtful lines and creases, it takes a softer design approach, overall.
However, interior design and quality are the best we have seen in Marutis yet and a step above many competitors. Quality of the dashboard and door panels is commendably good, with generous use of soft-touch plastic. Both front and back seats are spacious and comfortable. The S-Cross offers great driving position with height adjustable seat and tilt steering. I particularly liked the cushioning on the door handle where the elbow can comfortably rest during long drives.
The centre console is dominated by a 7-inch SmartPlay infotainment system inherited from the Ciaz, which offers audio, navigation, rear camera and Bluetooth functions. The screen is split into four sections, giving instant access to all the functions without having to fiddle around much. The driver can control most of the functions using steering mounted switches and also via voice commands. A small digital monitor on instrument cluster displays instant and average consumption figures, distance to empty, trip metre, outside temperature and odo.
The top variant also offers automatic headlamps, automatic wipers and push start button. The only disappointment with the interiors is that some parts – including door lever and switches on the side panel are carried over from the lesser models.
Powered onlyby diesel, the S-Cross comes with 1.6-litre or 1.3-litre engines. The 1.6 multijet DDiS engine develops 118bhp and a whopping 320Nm of torque. Despite being helped by a variable-geometry turbocharger, the engine suffers from significant lag, which makes the car lazy under 1800rpm. Once the turbo kicks in, there’s an addictive turn of pace and you forgive the lag. The slick 6-speed gearbox makes the car a great cruiser returning great fuel efficiency, but it is challenged by overtaking requiring a downshift or two to keep the momentum.
The 1.3-litre engine is borrowed from the Ciaz and delivers 90bhp and 200Nm. It was not offered for a test drive but the already proven engine is sure to deliver pleasing performance, too.
Ride and Handling
One department where the S-Cross scores heavily is the ride quality. It soaks up potholes and undulations brilliantly and keeps the engine and ambient noise at bay. The 1.6-litre engine offers plenty of punch for spirited driving and the suspension adds more fun by ensuring good stability at high-speed and around corners. Wide tyres (205mm) and disc breaks on all wheels boosts confidence too. The steering, however, feels a bit lifeless and does not offer good feedback.
The S-Cross will be offered in eight trims, and all but the lowest variant will be equipped with dual airbags and ABS.
Crossovers are firmly in fashion these days for their practicality and SUV-like appearance. At the same time, they are easy to drive, thanks to more compact dimensions, and have low running costs. The Maruti S-Cross may be a little understated when it comes to styling, but it certainly does justice to the “premium” tag it bears. It has a roomy, plush cabin and offers a comfortable yet confident drive. With the new ‘NEXA’ buying and ownership experience, the S-Cross offers a lot to keep the buyer happy.