mReview: Suzuki S-Cross meets Volkswagen T-Cross – Criss Cross
These two crossovers have uncannily similar names, but they are actually as different as Japanese chalk and German cheese.
In this case, the chalk-and-cheese comparison is accurate, because the S-Cross is a functional thing like chalk, which is good for writing useful information on blackboard in classroom but not for eating in the school canteen, while the T-Cross is like a small feast for the eyes and therefore looks almost edible.
Sinking my teeth into understanding how similar/dissimilar these two crossovers are, the most obvious difference is their size and style. Incidentally, the T-Cross is the smallest VW SUV in Singapore (its bigger brothers are the Tiguan and Touareg), while the S-Cross is the reigning Suzuki king of the island, with only the tiny Jimny as its loyal subject in the SUV sector.
The Suzuki is much longer from bumper to bumper and sits on a much longer wheelbase (which benefits interior space), but it is surprisingly just a smidgen wider and taller than the Volkswagen. Both cars are shod with 17-inch alloy wheels, but the Suzuki’s black plastic claddings for the fenders are more prominent and perhaps more ready for bashing through the jungle, concrete or natural.
The S-Cross fascia is fiercer than that of its Vitara sibling and hence might frighten children and kittens, whereas the T-Cross fascia is friendly, attracting the same children and kittens who were frightened by the fierce S-Cross.
Suzuki’s SUV design philosophy has always preferred to be pretty utilitarian rather than pretty, which is why the S-Cross’s exterior flair is limited to “cubic” tail-lights. Volkswagen, on the other hand, has its T-Cross targeting young urban adults (who might look or at least dress like the fashionable ang mohs in the T-Cross collateral), so the car is designed to be chunky and quite funky, albeit with no trendy details which could go out of style too soon.
Candy colours such as Energetic Orange, Makena Turqoise and the test-car’s Reef Blue make the T-Cross even more “Toys R Us” and contrast with the more grown-up paintwork palette of the S-Cross, which includes the test-car’s soothing Sphere Blue, outdoorsy Canyon Brown, and Energetic Red for, uh, energetic people.
Speaking of energy, both cars have turbo engines which qualify for COE Category A, but via different routes. The S-Cross uses a detuned 127bhp/235Nm version of the Swift Sport’s turbocharged 1.4-litre four-cylinder with mild hybrid assistance, while the T-Cross uses the littlest petrol engine in the VW empire, the 1-litre three-cylinder with 115bhp and 200Nm.
Despite its Swift Sport Boosterjet powertrain, the S-Cross is neither swift nor sporty, but it is happy to rev its way up the tachometer and rush down the road, probably with some help from the 48-volt starter-generator to boost the initial acceleration. The 6-speed automatic transmission is responsive with its gearchanges and kickdowns, whether in auto Drive mode or DIY paddle-play mode, enabling the S-Cross to perform its fair share of cutting and thrusting in the cut-and-thrust of traffic.
The S-Cross autobox plays a big role in its driveability, but the transmission in the T-Cross plays an even bigger performance role. It’s a 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox which charges up/down the gears with gusto and makes the most of the little 1-litre engine which needs some revs to really get going. However, the “half-clutch” sensation at low speeds, especially when creeping up a slope or carpark ramp, reminds me of my L-plate days as a learner driver who lacked finesse.
If I were a faster driver, I would prefer the T-Cross, because it feels nimbler and more connected in corners, with good control of body movements, plus quicker steering and a tighter turning circle. If I were a cruiser driver, I would prefer the S-Cross, because its steering is super light for easier manoeuvres on streets and expressways, and the ride is more comfortable for everyone on board.
Getting into the S-Cross and T-Cross, the chalk-and-cheese comparison pops up again. It starts with the fingertip unlocking of the driver’s door – Suzuki’s classic square black button for the S-Cross is less sleek than the T-Cross touch handle.
Both dashboards use several shades of gray, but the T-Cross has a bit of flash across the dash thanks to the decorative inserts. Most of the materials in either vehicle are basic rather than fantastic, with upholstery which is more durable than desirable, but everything seems to be screwed together properly by responsible workers/robots.
In a throwback to simpler days of motoring when there were more workers than robots, both -Crosses here have conventional handbrake levers.
The front seats are more supportive in the S-Cross, including for the head, but the T-Cross offers adjustable lumber support for both driver and front passenger. The T-Cross ratchet seatback adjuster is slower but more precise than the S-Cross pull-up lever.
In the infotainment “dance-off”, the S-Cross boogies with its bigger touchscreen (9-inch versus the VW’s 8-inch) and 360-degree parking camera system (versus the VW’s less helpful rear view camera with all-round parking sensors), but the T-Cross discos ahead with its slicker fingertip-display interface and greater connectivity (two USB-C ports plus a wireless charging pad versus the Suzuki’s single USB-A port).
The T-Cross trump card is its Active Info Display, a crystal-clear 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster which makes the analogue dials in the S-Cross seem old-school, even though they are equally effective at conveying driving information. The S-Cross is not totally analogue, though, with a 4.2-inch colour LCD display nestled between the meters to provide essential info on the go.
Adjusting the dual-zone automatic air-con is easier and possibly safer with the protruding S-Cross knobs than with the dainty T-Cross buttons flush with the climate control panel. This is an example of ergonomics beating aesthetics.
In terms of practicality and versatility, the S-Cross is the overall winner, but the margin of victory is thinner than expected.
For instance, the Suzuki’s centre console is better for odds and ends, but its four doorbins are much smaller than the Volkswagen’s. The Suzuki’s backseat provides more space for legs and knees, but the headroom is similar to the Volkswagen’s. The Suzuki has a rear centre armrest which the VW doesn’t have, but the latter compensates with two seatback pockets (versus Suzuki’s one), two USB-C ports (none in the Suzuki), a cubbyhole and individual reading lights (Suzuki has just the main cabin light above the front seats).
The 440-litre S-Cross boot (pictured above) is much roomier than the 385-litre T-Cross trunk (pictured below) and therefore more suitable for family road trips and major grocery/shopping/IKEA runs. It also has a 12-volt accessory socket to support outdoor activities.
In conclusion, the Japanese chalk that is the Suzuki S-Cross and the German cheese that is the Volkswagen T-Cross have similar names but different car-racters. Their pricing (at press time), by the way, is similar (around $157k including COE), which provides more food for thought.
|Suzuki S-Cross 1.4 & Volkswagen T-Cross 1.0
Price (at time of publishing): $156,888 including COE for S-Cross
$157,900 including COE for T-Cross
VES Band: B for S-Cross
A2 for T-Cross
1,373 cc in S-Cross
999 cc in T-Cross
Power & Torque:
127 bhp @ 5,500 rpm & 235 Nm
@ 2,000-3,000 rpm in S-Cross
115 bhp @ 5,000-5,500 rpm &
200 Nm @ 2,000-3,500 rpm
6-speed automatic in S-Cross
7-speed dual-clutch in T-Cross
Front for S-Cross & T-Cross
17.5 km/L for S-Cross
18.5 km/L for T-Cross
12.7 seconds for S-Cross
10.2 seconds for T-Cross
195 km/h for S-Cross
193 km/h for T-Cross
Fuel Tank Capacity:
47 litres for S-Cross
40 litres for T-Cross
Dimensions (L x W x H):
4,305 mm x 1,785 mm x 1,585 mm for S-Cross
4,235 mm x 1,782 mm x 1,584 mm for T-Cross
440 litres for S-Cross
385 litres for T-Cross
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