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The facelifted 2017 Suzuki S-Cross hasn't received much love from CarAdvice readers, nor numerous staff members.
A main point of discussion is the new front, which seems to be quite polarising. This tester, however, finds it pretty inoffensive, if a little boring.
The new model also gets a heart transplant, swapping out the old 86kW/156Nm 1.6-litre atmo four-cylinder for a far punchier 103kW/220Nm 1.4-litre 'Boosterjet' turbo four shared with the Vitara, paired to a six-speed automatic transmission as standard.
On test we have the top-spec S-Cross Turbo Prestige, which will set you back $29,990 plus on-road costs, though Suzuki are currently offering $1000 on-road costs, bringing the Prestige to $30,990 drive-away.
Meanwhile, the entry-level S-Cross Turbo starts at a slightly more affordable $27,990 plus ORCs, and is being offered for $28,990 drive-away.
That may sound like a fair amount of cash, but you get a decent amount of kit for all that coin.
Standard across the range is a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with satellite navigation and Apple CarPlay, 17-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, USB input, a rear-view camera with static guidelines, keyless entry with push-button start, dual-zone climate control and privacy glass.
Our flagship Prestige adds classier polished versions of the 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic LED headlights with LED parking lights, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror and leather-accented seats.
In terms of safety all models get seven airbags, ABS, electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD), stability control, traction control, hill hold assist, hill descent control, three-point seatbelts all round, along with two Isofix child seat mounts for the two outer rear seats.
The S-Cross achieved a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating when it was first released in 2013.
However, there is no availability of more advanced safety systems like autonomous emergency braking (AEB), blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert or adaptive cruise control – which is a shame considering rivals like the Mazda CX-3 make these features standard or optional across the range.
From the outside the S-Cross won't turn heads (unless they're haters), and despite the significant refresh up front the rear hasn't changed much other than the revised tail-lights.
It looks a little skinny and awkward from the rear, but it's not all about the looks, is it?
Inside you'll find one of the better interiors in the Suzuki range. There's still plenty of harder plastics all round, but everything is well-screwed together and the dashboard is dominated by one large soft-touch panel.
The steering wheel is nicely trimmed in leather and feels good in the hand, while the driver's instrument cluster is nice and clear, with a small TFT display for trip computer information. Suzuki has even included steering-mounted paddle shifters for when you feel like changing gears yourself.
Out back there is plenty of room for two adults, with adequate head and legroom for taller passengers, while the seatbacks can be adjusted for extra comfort.
However, the lack of rear air vents will make hot days that little bit harder, especially with a full car of passengers.
Behind the second row is a healthy 430-litre boot, which is 55L more than the Vitara (375L). The space is nice and square while the wide opening makes it easy to get larger items in the back.
So, the S-Cross is a pretty practical little thing, but is it any good on the road?
In short, yes. The S-Cross is nimble and balanced, while the 103kW/220Nm Boosterjet four-pot generates its maximum torque at just 1500 to 4000rpm, making it feel very spritely, almost 'sporty' off the line.
Under hard acceleration the front wheels can struggle for traction, however, not to the point where you feel as if you're going to lose control.
The S-Cross is also pretty light at 1170kg – which is 10kg more than the front-wheel driven Vitara S Turbo – helping it to feel like a smaller car than it actually is.
In the bends, the steering feels direct and offers enough feedback so you know what the front wheels are doing, while the low weight makes the S-Cross feel light on its feet – you can actually have quite a bit of fun with it.
Additionally, the turbocharged engine means you can really power out of corners, while the transmission's manual mode holds gears all the way to the red line.
It's also pretty good on fuel. During our time with the S-Cross we covered over 300km with a mix of city, highway and backroads, with the trip computer indicating 7.8L/100km – Suzuki's claim is 5.9L/100km. Also worth noting is the Boosterjet's taste for 95 RON fuel, which will cost you that little bit extra at the pump.
Based on that figure, you should be able to travel around 600km with the S-Cross's 47L fuel tank.
The S-Cross isn't perfect, though. Over rougher surfaces there is noticeable tyre roar, and the firm suspension tune – though great in the corners – can jar over larger imperfections in the tarmac.
Adding to the niggles are little rattles and squeaks over rough surfaces, which takes away from that feeling of quality
Like all Suzuki models, the S-Cross comes with the company's three year, 100,000km warranty and five years of capped-price servicing.
Maintenance is required every six months or 10,000km, which is starting to lag behind companies like Kia – which offers a seven-year unlimited kilometre warranty and seven years of capped-price servicing with 15,000km/12 month intervals.
It's still relatively affordable to keep your S-Cross on the road though, with minor services costing $175 while the major ones (40,000km, 60,000km, 80,000km) asking for $359-$399.
Over those first three years of ownership, the S-Cross will set you back $1438. For the life of the five-year servicing program, the Suzuki will require $2362 of scheduled maintenance.
The revamped Suzuki S-Cross is a pretty good thing. For people who don't like the idea of driving an SUV, the Suzuki is somewhere in the middle ground and is something a little different from the regular small SUV crop.
Sure, the design is a love-or-hate affair, but if you can get past the styling and the the hard interior plastics, it's a great runabout with plenty of punch and practicality to boot (pun intended).
What the S-Cross does have that some of its rivals don't, is character. Having driven the new Baleno, Vitara, and now the new S-Cross, Suzuki's latest models have a lovable charm about them that helps you see past flaws like the basic interior and design quirks.
However, the near-$30,000 asking price for the Prestige is a little steep, so if you can live without the leather and LED headlights, the entry-level S-Cross Turbo is better value.
The 2017 Suzuki S-Cross may not be the new benchmark in the small SUV class, but it's definitely one you should have on the shopping list.
Click on the Photos tab for more images by Tom Fraser.