Suzuki S-Cross: Is AllGrip worth it?

  • We test the £1,800 AllGrip four-wheel drive system
  • S-Cross proves mighty on mud and snow
  • Must try harder in order to challenge "Lock" mode
  • We test the £1,800 AllGrip four-wheel drive system
  • S-Cross proves mighty on mud and snow
  • Must try harder in order to challenge "Lock" mode

The AllGrip four-wheel drive system in our Suzuki S-Cross long-termer promises traction in all sorts of slippery conditions. All without the associated efficiency costs of a permanently-engaged 4x4 system, as it only operates when required.

AllGrip option costs £1,800

To work out whether it’s any good, I’ve spent the last few weeks getting to grips with each position of the drive-mode selector. Leaving the selector in its native “auto” only tells half of the car’s story - it really comes alive in its various modes.

Drive-mode selector is not the sturdiest thing

Sport

While auto mode prioritises fuel economy, sport mode shifts torque to the rear wheels to allow more cornering grip for the front tyres. The throttle response is also noticeably sharper and the whole car feels much more willing.  

One downside is that the already sensitive first gear becomes super-sensitive to the movements of your right foot. When pulling away it is best to short-shift up to second quickly to spare the comfort of your passengers.

It's surprisingly good for a B-Road blast

There's a lot of fun to be had with the S-Cross’s chassis, with quick steering and reasonably accurate, and there is plenty of grip, with the front only washing wide if you really push it hard.

Mud

Suzuki groups snow and mud together in a one-size-fits-all, “I’m driving on something slippery” mode. This gives you four-wheel drive and a different electronic stability programme.

Should have called it "Snud" mode

We took it into some boggy territory and were suitably impressed with how strongly it pulled itself through the mud, and though there's no low-range gearbox, there is plenty of torque.

In fact the only thing that held it back was the ground clearance, which is higher than a hatchback but not as generous with an off-roader. I suspect if you’re in deep enough to trouble the sump then it’s quite likely you’re near the limit of the 4x4 system anyway.

Mud was much stickier than it looks

Snow

With the roads recently covered in that seasonal menace I went out to test the S-Cross in the snow. After ten minutes of uneventful driving, and feeling confident in the car’s ability following our mud test, I turned off in search of more challenging terrain.

Will it go? Yes it will

I located an icy hill and set about getting to the top of it. The S-Cross met this challenge with no drama at all - barely a blink of the traction control light. If anything it is even more impressive in the cold than in the mud.

On a slightly wider but still icy road I experimented with some sharper throttle inputs but the S-Cross just pulled away straight and true.

Done. What's next?

The AllGrip system proved mighty in the snow, but it does nothing to improve the brakes. It is easy to become buoyed by its grip and bowl confidently down a frozen lane, only to press the brake pedal and hear the mechanical judder of the ABS cutting in. Winter tyres would help dramtically here.

Verdict

Bearing in mind when we conducted these tests the S-Cross was equipped with low-rolling resistance summer tyres, not special off-road or winter rubber it proved itself to be very good indeed. 

Not even summer tyres can hold it back

It’s quite telling that I haven’t been able to test “Lock” mode yet – the one you use when you’re properly stuck - because it hasn’t got stuck. So while the £1,800 AllGrip system might appear a slightly frivolous purchase, it is at least a competent one.

S-Cross: bring it on

Mileage: 1,442

Fuel economy: 53.56mpg (calc)

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