Suzuki has had a steadily growing presence in the fleet sector over the past few years, largely due to targeting the right type of business with the Swift – a competent and good value small car.
But the brand’s ambitions in the corporate sector in the UK run much deeper than taking a small slice of the public sector fleet pie plus a little Motability business. Its next new model will be aimed squarely at user-choosers and has used the hugely-successful Nissan Qashqai as a benchmark.
The Suzuki SX4 S-Cross will arrive in the UK in October and of particular interest to fleets will be the diesel version – a 120bhp 1.6-litre engine supplied by Fiat – which offers CO2 emissions of 110g/km for the front-wheel drive version and just 114g/km for the four-wheel drive variant.
Suzuki is also introducing an equipment grade that targets user-choosers: SZ-T will sit between the mid-spec SZ4 and range-topping SZ5 and includes a unique design for its 17-inch alloy wheels, reversing camera – in addition to the rear parking sensors of the SZ4 – sat-nav and chrome styling pack.
Bluetooth, DAB and dual-zone climate control are also among the standard items on SZ-T.
Suzuki has worked closely with CAP and Glass’s to optimise residual values forecasts, and the S-Cross name will be UK-specific. Suzuki was warned that the new car should be seen as different from the SX4 it ultimately replaces and it has been given the green light to add S-Cross badging for the UK, although its full name of Suzuki SX4 S-Cross is a bit of a mouthful.
The S-Cross seems lower and a tad smaller than the Nissan Qashqai, with the styling more akin to a rugged-looking estate car than an SUV.
The interior is neatly designed, although overwhelmingly dark, and there is a panel of soft-touch material on the dashboard to try to increase the perceived quality.
It doesn’t feel quite as roomy as a Qashqai or a Kia Sportage in the rear, although it isn’t short of space.
The 1.6-litre diesel engine is a lively and refined performer, and in sixth gear on the motorway is relaxed.
It’s quite a sharp and responsive performer on country roads, too, with quick steering and limited body roll.
Suzuki is taking steps to ensure it is fit for fleet business, and while it might be targeting SMEs and leasing companies in the first instance, the new S-Cross is attractive and should offer low operating costs.
It would certainly deserve a place on choice lists alongside crossover models from the big fleet players.