It’s hard to let go of a car you love driving. This is a universal truth. And so it was with our long-term S-cross, a car we sent back to Maruti quite grudgingly. We, of course, knew it was something special from the moment we drove it – the nice and weighty steering, good body control around the corners, strong 120hp 1.6 Fiat Multijet diesel engine. And it wasn’t just these elements individually, but the fact that they all came together so well. Every drive in it felt special and though the turbo lag at low speeds would get a bit frustrating in traffic at times, once the turbo came in, it more than made up by shooting off in a straight line and planting a wide grin on your face. Only the tyres let the experience down.
It was also a super long-distance car. It had the requisite performance, to begin with, a torquey diesel motor and a tall sixth gear. We even called it the Great Poona Car as it felt at home on the fast Mumbai-Pune Expressway. High-speed cruising was not a problem. Overtaking was just a mere flex of the right foot and it felt stable even at very high speeds.
What also endeared it to us was how well the interiors were put together. Dash quality, touchscreen, voice commands to call worked particularly well, especially if they were easy to pronounce names. In my case, it was easy on the system since all my family members and friends had easy-to-pronounce names. The touchscreen system too worked seamlessly and the reverse camera made life so easy.
Infotainment system with voice commands was simply brilliant.
And then there’s the fact that the rear seat was extremely comfortable. The seat cushioning was nice and there were ample knee room and thigh support, with the seatback even reclining at near-perfect angles for added comfort.
Always greedy for more, we even upped the performance of the S-cross with a Race Dynamics’ Piggyback ECU and Bridgestone tyres. The Race Dynamics system has a few driving modes. Most of us struck it in P2, which churned out every single horsepower from its 1.6-litre motor. Although, the turbo lag in this mode was a bit higher, what made us keep going back was the fact that the S-cross just took off as soon as the engine crossed 2,000rpm, the tacho needle flying up to the redline. In the lower first and second gears, you could feel the torque overpowering even the grippy Bridgestone tyres – all you needed to do was go flat on the throttle. And with the tuning box in its most aggressive setting, we managed to shave an impressive 1.6sec off the stock car’s timing, with 0-100kph coming up in just 9.9sec.
Race Dynamics dual-channel ECU controls the fuel and boost pressure.
Thanks to the new tyres, the car held the line better on tight corners and there was no fear of spinning out, especially when lifting off mid corner, which was the case earlier due to lack of grip from the stock JK tyres. Though the grip levels were much higher now, the JKs offered a softer ride at low speeds. However, the difference was not much and it was a minor trade-off for the grip on offer.
To sum up, the S-cross left a lasting impression on me for its breadth of talents and more importantly, for the way it drove. It will be sorely missed at the Autocar office and I wish we could keep it longer.