Maruti is all set to take on the Renault Duster and Hyundai Creta with this rather unique crossover offering, the S-Cross.
What is it?
Well, it’s not an SUV according to conventional perception, something that’s clear from the very first glance. Technically, all cars in this segment – the Duster, Terrano, Creta and even the smaller EcoSport – are crossovers too, but while they go out of their way to ape the styling of butch, rugged SUVs, Maruti’s new S-Cross doesn’t. In fact, the company acknowledges that, calling it a ‘premium crossover’ rather than an SUV. That makes it quite unique, and also gives it its biggest challenge, given our image-conscious market that likes its SUVs to look the part. Sure, it does have the requisite black plastic body cladding, scuff plates and roof rails, but its overall shape is clearly more akin to a very large hatchback, with its soft, rounded shape and drooping nose. And then there’s the fact that the ground clearance, at 180mm, is not in the same league as the rest. There are a couple of nice touches, however, like the big projector headlamps with their LED strips, the two-slat chrome grille, the strong belt line and the wing mirrors that sprout from the doors rather than the pillars.
What’s it like on the inside?
While the exterior is not the S-Cross’s strongest point, it more than makes up for that on the inside. The upholstery may be all black as it is in the Swift, but the design looks clean, smart and sporty. The material quality is the best we’ve seen in a Maruti, with good fit and finish, well damped buttons and generous use of soft-touch plastic. There’s even a nice textured layer on the top of the dash which has a nice soft touch, however the lower plastics like the glovebox have a hard feel and shiny look. Leather covers not just the seats (where it gets contrasting double stitching), but the steering wheel, gear lever and the door pads as well. The only disappointment is that Maruti has still retained some switchgear – like the window buttons and mirror adjuster – from the likes of the Swift and lesser models.
Back to those seats, and they too have been rather well executed. At the front, you’ll find them snug and supportive, and that there’s a good view out thanks to the relatively low dashboard. Move to the rear, and you’ll find a surprisingly generous amount of space, even for three. There’s plenty of room to stretch your legs, and shoulder room is great too. Headroom, meanwhile, while not class leading, is more than sufficient. At 353 litres, the boot volume may not sound like a lot, but the space is well- shaped and the loading lip is not as high as in a full-on SUV, so it’s a bit more practical. The seats also split 60:40 and fold almost flat, all at the tug of a very light lever – which is a very European touch. In fact, from the inside, the sensation you get is that this is a car engineered for the discerning European market, not something watered down for India, thanks to the solid, quality feel of everything you touch. You also get a lot of practical storages spaces all around the cabin for your knick-knacks, including a full-size bottle holder in each door.