26 September 2023

The Disappearing Brand

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By Paul Gover.

Lots of people have forgotten about Suzuki.

As Australian showrooms are flooded by a new generation of Chinese cars – MG, Chery, LDV, Haval and Great Wall – it’s easy to forget some of the earlier bedrock brands.

Suzuki has been around for a very long time and has a dedicated brand of followers who have bought into the Swift and Grand Vitara, and everything between.

Its Jimny is an absolute cult car, a boxy little city SUV with a 12-month-plus waiting list.

A five-door version of the Jimny is also coming soon.

But the days when Suzuki was a punchy little price fighter are long gone.

Its current flagship is the S-Cross and is massively over-priced as a compact four-wheel drive.

How does $40,990 sound?

It definitely doesn’t sound great against a field of small SUVs as impressive as the Hyundai Kona and latest Nissan Qashqai.

The official starting price for the S-Cross is fair, but still at the top end of the field at $27,990 and higher than its South Korean and Japanese rivals.

When you jump up to the flagship model that arrived in the final quarter of last year, called the Allgrip for its all-wheel drive system, the basic bottom line is $40,990.

Suzuki believes it has a solid contender but the approach for the Allgrip goes against its history in Australia.

Like Honda, which has decided to charge premium prices and ignore the price-driven competition, Suzuki appears to be going for higher profits on a smaller sales volume.

But back to the S-Cross.

It’s a good little car, comfy, quiet, well finished and with cabin space for a young family.

The 7-inch infotainment screen is clear and well placed, but trailing bigger screens from rivals, and it gets a huge suite of safety stuff from seven airbags to blind-spot monitoring and automatic LED headlights.

So it will tick the box for people who want a compact package with impressive safety.

The performance is fine with its 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine, although it takes a bit of stirring for overtaking despite a six-speed gearbox. The all-wheel drive package is invisible in regular driving, making it more like a Subaru for extra grip when the going gets slippery.

Economy is good, so too is the level of standard equipment, and the Suzuki badge is still worth something in Australia.

But there are too many buts to give the S-Cross Allgrip more than a midfield score, and it should really be relying on the basic model – with its sub-$30,000 bottom line – to make the running.

Is it a good car? Yes.

Is it a great car? No.

Is it worthy of a shopping shortlist in 2023? Only if you don’t care about value.


Position: flagship compact SUV

Price: from $

Engine: 1.4-litre turbo petrol

Power: 103kW/220Nm

Transmission: 6-speed auto, all-wheel drive

Plus: sensible, practical, enjoyable

Minus: over-priced

THE TICK: a pity about the price

Score: 6/10

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