Suzuki S-Cross: Sport mode explored

  • Comfortable and practical S-Cross tested in "Sport" mode
  • 118bhp and 320Nm of torque means it's no slouch
  • Most noticeable effect is the considerably sharper throttle

There’s a curious button next to the gearshift of my Suzuki S-Cross long termer.

It doesn’t make rockets sprout from the flanks or activate a laser beam to melt windscreen frost - it does something even stranger to this high-riding, off-roading, family-friendly crossover.

I’m talking about the sport button (a dial really) which has always struck me as odd in a car more set up for towing than heel-and-toeing.

The key to the S-Cross's mood changes

Twist it and you get 20 per cent more torque to the rear wheels, freeing up front wheel grip for cornering. You also get a sharper throttle response, which is particularly noticeable at low engine speeds.

However, all of this extra performance is a bit pointless if the handling resembles a blancmange, so I’ve been driving the S-Cross on a few of the windy lanes we’re blessed with around Parkers HQ to find out whether it’s any good.

Let’s start with the good things. The steering is accurate, the brakes are powerful and the turbo provides a nice punch of torque - albeit it in a narrow band.

In terms of cabin ergonomics things are positive too, as the gearshift is positioned close to the steering wheel for snappy changes and has a positive and springy action.

Easy controls are well laid out

All three pedals are well-weighted and spaced close enough together for sporty heel-and-toe braking, although you do need to give the throttle quite a hefty poke to lift the revs high enough.

Light steering takes a while to adapt to but facilitates an agile feel, despite the car’s size. A series of corners will stretch the crossover’s long suspension travel as the body rolls from one side to the next, but on the whole it is well controlled and doesn’t give in to lumbering.

Carry some speed into a bend and you will hear a squeak or two from the tyres while the AllGrip system shuffles power around. Apply the power too early and there is a mild amount of understeer, but at no point does the S-Cross feel unstable or unpredictable. It hangs on to the tarmac with confidence-inspiring tenacity.

The S-Cross is surprisingly good at this

Bearing in mind this is a tall riding crossover and not a low slung hot-hatch, the S-Cross performs outside its comfort zone very admirably.

A stiffer and lower suspension set up would give the S-Cross a more agile feel, but for the small amount of time you would benefit from this it would ruin the ride, and sort of defeat the point.

Sport mode is a happy medium – making the car more responsive when you find yourself on a B-road in an empty car, but easily deactivated when you’re not.

Mileage: 2,083 miles Economy: 55.9mpg (calculated)