ON THE ROAD – IAN LYNAS LOOKS BACK AND TO THE FUTURE WITH SUZUKI
My first awareness of Suzuki came by way of their Cappuccino, a small two seater with a detachable roof, it was designed to meet Kei car specifications for lower tax and insurance in Japan; powered by a turbocharged, three-cylinder, 657 cc DOHC engine (just under the 660 cc maximum displacement allowed for a Kei car) and its dimensions also conformed to Kei car regulations on length and width.
In fact when it comes to car manufacture it is relatively new and its roots can be traced back to 1909 when the production of weaving looms started. Wind on the time clock and in the 1950s and midway through that decade the company produced its first motor car and through this short period Suzuki has produced cars well equipped and which come to the customer giving value for money.
Recently, I spent a number of days behind the wheel of the S Cross ALLGRIP, I have reported on the launch of this car last year, but on home soil you really get acquainted. Yes, I have driven favourites in the Suzuki range; perhaps one of the less successful offerings from Suzuki, the Kizashi a ‘D’ Segment car introduced in early 2012. It featured switchable i-AWD with a CVT / six speed, manual mode operated via steering wheel paddle switches or gear shift lever. Powering this attractive saloon a four cylinder petrol engine with 178PS on tap. I guess its high CO2 figure played a part in making it less attractive to some.
The one car that really made take serious notice of the brand was the Swift which, when launched, had the cleanest petrol engine in its class. In the supermini class with emissions of 116g/km I saw it has a competitor for the Mini. The Swift at launch was offered in a number of grades, SZ2, SZ3 and SZ4 grades and all three were equipped with seven airbags and ESP as standard.
Returning to my latest home test drive and the S Cross; power is courtesy of a 1.5 litre (K15C) engine which was initially introduced on the Vitara model in early 2022. The S Cross is a full hybrid and the system consists of a 140V lithium-ion battery and inverter, Motor Generator Unit (known as MGU), a 12V lithium-ion battery as well as a conventional 12V lead-acid battery to power components requiring lower voltage such as lights, instruments and heating / air conditioning. In my opinion hybrid currently is the direction to follow and not the EV highway; however I must point out Suzuki will have at least one EV coming our way; the eVX concept (below) had its world premiere at Auto Expo 2023, held in the suburbs of Delhi.
It is scheduled to be introduced to the market in 2025; it is a BEV model that combines Suzuki’s strong 4×4 DNA with the advanced features of the latest BEVs. The exterior has been designed to be instantly recognizable as a Suzuki SUV. In addition, it aims to carry forward the brand’s 4×4 legacy into the new electric era to deliver a true Suzuki SUV driving experience with a claimed range of 550km. Returning to the hybrid S Cross, I discovered a car which is lively in terms of performance and very well equipped; one feature I must highlight, a switch labelled View on the dash provides an all round view, including an aerial view, great when parking. When road conditions deteriorate or the need to go off road the ALLGRIP select system gets my vote; I was surprised just how good it was off road and I suspect S Cross owners will never have the need to venture off the tarmac. The system’s four driver-selectable modes are; auto which prioritises fuel economy in typical driving conditions and uses two-wheel drive by default. It switches to four wheel drive if it detects wheel spin. The sport mode is optimal for twisty roads and it makes maximum use of four-wheel drive in accordance with accelerator inputs. At low and mid-range engine speeds, the system alters the accelerator/torque characteristics to optimise engine response and cornering performance.
The snow mode is optimal for snowy, unpaved, and other slippery surfaces while lock mode is for extricating the car from snow, mud, or sand. A limited slip differential is fitted which helps brake any slipping wheel and transfer torque to the gripping. The S Cross as I did discover is a vehicle for all seasons.