Another feature, which isn’t yet common among so-called mild hybrids, is that the 48V Suzukis can idle and even coast below 10mph on electric power. When you’re stationary or depress the clutch pedal at around 1000rpm, fuel injection makes way for the electric component to control engine idling.
The end result of all this, according to Suzuki, is considerably more torque, an improvement of up to 15% in fuel economy and as much as a 20% reduction in CO2 emissions, at the penalty of only an almost insignificant extra 15kg in overall weight.
Indeed, the peak torque output of the S-Cross’s turbocharged 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine has risen not insignificantly from 162lb ft to 173lb ft. However, you may be surprised to see that power has actually fallen, from 138bhp to 127bhp.
That’s because this car has not merely had a mild-hybrid system bolted on but also introduces the latest evolution of the Suzuki K-series engine, which contributes to the efficiency improvements made.
What’s it like?
Despite this, it doesn’t feel that much different out on the road. The engine pulls from low revs with more than enough strength for town work, with a 0-62mph time of just over 10sec. And it certainly isn’t out of its depth on faster roads, either, because it’s commendably flexible when hooked up to the six-speed manual gearbox – no doubt partly thanks to helping hands from the ISG.
Indeed, you can only really detect that this S-Cross is electrified when you lift off in lower gears, thanks to the usual sensation of engine braking being noticeably stronger as energy is captured. Don’t get us wrong: it’s no Nissan Leaf – you still absolutely need to use the central pedal – but the sensation of regeneration is present, unlike with Suzuki’s old 12V set-up.
As for the actual benefit of this, we averaged 38.7mpg over 200 miles of mostly motorway but also some town duty (not at all congested, for obvious reasons), during which time the computer says the electric idling saved me a cute 0.06 gallons of fuel.
That figure is admittedly short of the official 45.4mpg, but it would no doubt be higher if it had not spent so much of its time at 70mph – and those 12V Suzukis have an impressive track record in my experience.
The biggest weakness of the S-Cross continues to be its suspension. The primary ride is nothing to write home about, but you might put pen to paper in complaint about the way that small intrusions are dealt with. The car feels rather brittle at low speeds, alerting you to potholes and such, fidgeting all the while. All of the family will feel much more comfortable in something like the Skoda Karoq.