Suzuki S-Cross looks

the part - now

Suzuki SX4 S-Cross, front action
Suzuki SX4 S-Cross, side action
Suzuki SX4 S-Cross, rear static
Suzuki SX4 S-Cross, dashboard
Suzuki SX4 S-Cross, boot
Suzuki SX4 S-Cross, moody static
Suzuki SX4 S-Cross, rear seats
Suzuki SX4 S-Cross, front seats
Suzuki SX4 S-Cross, upright static

SUZUKI makes no bones about it - the old S-Cross didn't look as good as its fiercest rival, the Nissan Qashqai.

To sell more it needed to look better.

So the heads of five of European countries where the S-Cross's sold best - UK very much included - called meetings with the company's top brass.

There they were told what needed doing to push this Suzuki up the sales charts - adding some better engines, but mostly doing something about those looks.

It didn't look enough like a proper SUV, you see. Does now, you might think, with a bigger, bolder front end taking in the sort of radiator grille that gently intimidates in the rear view mirror of the car ahead.

There's a big new air intake beneath the bumper too, along with more stand out headlights. The S-Cross (nobody uses the SX bit of the title) also now sits a little higher off the road and has smarter lights at the rear too.

Inside, there is a softer feel to the upper dash, a bit of smart black plastic and new fabrics for the seats. But it is outside and from the front where the big changes are focused.

Under the bonnet, the old 1.6 litre petrol engine has gone, replaced by turbocharged 1.0 or 1.4 litre units, with the smaller one a little down on pure bhp (110 plays 118) but up on pulling power with reduced emissions and fuel consumption too.

The new 1.4 does better still in the pulling power stakes as well as offering 138bhp and a little more economy than the previous 1.6 litre engine.

There is also a 1.6 litre 118bhp diesel available, mildly modified from last time and a tiny bit less polluting.

It produces an official average fuel economy of 68.8mpg (64.2mpg with on demand all-wheel drive) against 56.4mpg and 53.3mpg for 1.0 and 1.4 litre petrol respectively.

Prices start at £14,999 for a 1.0 litre in SZ4 trim that comes with Bluetooth, digital radio, air conditioning, 16-inch alloy wheels, heated door mirrors and seven airbags.

There's a significant price hike to the £19,499 SZ-T level but that does bring satellite navigation, dual zone climate control, front and rear parking sensors, rear parking camera, rear privacy glass, bigger alloys and LED headlights.

The ultimate S-Cross comes in SZ5 trim and you'll have to move to the larger 1.4 petrol engine (£22,849) or 1.6 diesel (£20,999) to enjoy leather trim, heated front seats, a big opening glass sunroof, alloy roof rails and radar brake support that slows for you in town if you attention wanders and you're in danger of hitting the vehicle in front.

Automatic transmission is available with either petrol engine and Suzuki's ALLGRIP 4x4 drive system comes as an option on any of the engines, meaning that the most expensive S-Cross is a diesel 4x4 auto for £24,349.

That helps underline an obvious attraction of the range - they are all notably well equipped for the price.

Numerous surveys also give hope of a long, trouble-free life with any Suzuki, including these Hungarian-built machines.

Out on the roads of rural Wales the smallest engine on offer felt surprisingly nimble and didn't mind being revved, when it produced the engaging thrum common to all today's new breed of three-cylinder petrol powerplants.

The four-cylinder 1.4 petrol engine was quieter and notably more potent from lower revs. It also produced 50mpg on the trip readout compared to 44mpg of the smaller engine, so bigger might be better this time.

There's an air of solid quality without much style to squander inside the revised S-Cross's interior but the seats were comfy enough and there is room in the rear for a couple of adults without them complaining.

If they looked outside they might have spotted the £430 option of metallic paint in the best new name for ages - Energetic Red.

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