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Replaced my VW Vento with Maruti S-Cross: Initial Impressions

The S-Cross is a reliable, comfortable and practical car capable of handling Indian roads well.

BHPian shouryapaul96 recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

Back in 2011, Volkswagen arrived in India with two new products. Everybody was aware of the mighty German manufacturer and their well-engineered cars. My dad decided to buy a Vento 1.5L TDI fulfilling his long-awaited wish for a sedan.

Fast forward to 2021, new emission norms had been put in place and we had to sell our beloved Vento. If I had to sum up our experience of owning Volkswagen in one word it would be “Expensive”. Vento and her sibling polo are great cars. They have built quality second to none, great safety standards, and excellent vehicle dynamics. Also, the 1.5L diesel engine rocketed it on highways. But all this was an “expensive” affair and cost my parents a hefty amount every time it went for a service or for some mechanical fault. Furthermore, the car had left us stranded on the road on multiple occasions.

After selling Vento my dad was looking for an alternative with similar characteristics minus the exorbitant running costs. I was old enough to know about cars and which one would be best suited to our needs.

  1. User: Dad
  2. Usage: Highways, and urban roads
  3. Priority: Comfortable ride, Solid built, Space, affordable and reliable.
  4. Budget: Under 10 Lakhs.

Options in the market

  • Volkswagen Vento 1.0L TSI: Somehow Volkswagen can sell the same car for 10 years. I test drove the new one and immediately turned it down and the buyback discount offered for the old Vento. The new version had a disconnected feel and the sporty dynamics were missing. Although the 1.0L 3-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine by Volkswagen is a brilliant unit and will be used in many future products. But we did not want to buy the same car (with a facelift and some extra features) after a span of 10 years.
  • Maruti Suzuki Ciaz: Probably the best value for money car. But for safety reasons, I looked at other options.
  • Honda City: Great car but has low ground clearance which is not suitable for rough roads, and the 4th gen costs above 12 lakhs on-road Delhi (B variant).
  • Maruti S-Cross: This was a car praised by the automobile community in India and had positive owner reviews as well. It ticked all the boxes, so we went for a test drive. Maruti now offered this car only with a petrol engine. But a diesel engine is better suited for a car of this size. So, we decided to look into the used car market.

Used car market experience

We were looking for a car with the least odometer readings and preferably of 2019-2020 made with a 1.3L engine. I searched through websites and car dealers, but this car was very rare in the market and the ones that did come up were either not the right year or driven aggressively by previous owners. We did find many MS Brezza and Ciaz in the market though.

One of our known mechanics located a 2019 S-Cross (Zeta variant) through a local dealer, so we went to have a look. The dealer walked us through the car, and it was almost in mint condition. No scratch marks, dearly maintained by the previous owner, no aftermarket accessories on the car, and 9,000 km on the odo. We took it for a spin, and I knew this was the one to buy. It felt like a new car, but with new cars, there are prerequisites before one can fully use the car, just like a pencil needs to be sharpened before it can be used. This car was a sharpened pencil with a pointy tip, ready to hit the Indian roads.

Came back from the test drive and we were in for an intense haggling session. There were multiple dealers involved in this, so we ended up paying more than we wanted but it was somehow worth the price. For this variant and year market price was around 9 lakhs give or take. We paid a sum of 9.5 lakhs, including the transferring of RC, Insurance and dealer commission.

Exterior

S-cross does not look like an SUV and certainly not like any cladded hatchback crossover. It has a unique design (almost like an estate car). The aggressive front face, big chrome grille, black cladding around the car with skid plates (available in zeta and alpha models) does give it a solid road presence. Overall the car has very good proportions and a sleek window line gives it a very classic look. The car sits on JK-tyres having precision cut alloy wheels that complement the subtle design. It may seem like a bigger car but take a step back and you will realize that it is shorter than most mid-size sedans.

Interiors

Front:

Like every other Maruti car, it has a very organized functional interior with a black theme. From the driver’s seat, you notice a steering wheel that has been used in many Maruti Suzuki cars with controls for the infotainment system and the cruise control. The instrument cluster has a blue and black themed layout with analogue type instruments, a digital display in the middle which shows a decent amount of information. But unlike typical Maruti interiors, this has some design features like the single element covered in leather-like treatment that runs through the dashboard and meets with the door panels. A standard Maruti infotainment system is surrounded by a nice piano black treatment, below which there is a digital Automatic climate control unit. Good quality soft-touch materials have been installed in the right places.

It has door pockets, bottle holders, cup holders and storage bins with enough storage space. Although the glovebox lacks cubby holes (which are quite useful).

Back:

S-cross comes with fabric seats (except the Alpha variant) which feels more comfortable and long-lasting than leather seats. Back seats are spacious as well, with the driver seat set to my driving position (I’m 6ft 2in), I can still sit comfortably in the back.

The seating position is slightly higher and large windows make for an open cabin. Back seats can be adjusted using a latch and a small red taped contraption pops out letting you know that seats can be adjusted. These small touches indicate that not much cost-cutting has been done in this car. There is an armrest, Door pockets and ISOfix child seat mounts. Rear AC vents and USB charging ports are missing which would have been nice in the back.

Boot:

It has a decent-sized boot (375-litres) that can fit 2 large briefcases and some smaller ones. S-cross has 60-40 split back seats increasing boot space whenever needed. There is no boot lip which means a level boot that helps in loading cargo and also makes a niche place for 2 people to sit while enjoying a good view. Obviously, this is not recommended when the vehicle is moving.

The interior is one of the best offered by Maruti in recent times, good quality soft-touch materials have been used. Feels like a reliable, solid and long-lasting interior with a black theme (which does start to grow on you) just like the S-cross itself.

Dynamics

When you are parked in a tight spot or navigating through narrow streets of India, a tight turning radius and a light electric steering wheel help. Large windows give a good view of the surroundings, although the thick A-pillar leaves a big blind spot for the driver especially while turning right. As with all cars, the more you drive them the more cognizant one gets about the size of the vehicle. Once the car gets out on city roads, the firm ride makes for a pleasant experience. It handles bumps and potholes really well, sharp potholes can make the car move from one side to another. The S-Cross was clearly set up for a laid back and relaxed driving style but introduce it to a corner and you will be amazed how such a car has almost no roll and stays composed through the bends. The electric steering wheel does not give much feedback and it takes some time to get used to when driving at exuberant speed.

Take the car on a highway and immediately you notice that this is what s-cross was designed for, to be a comfortable highway cruiser. The ride just gets better with speed. Above 80km/hr it almost starts to glide on the road, you don’t want to go any faster nor do you want to slow down. This is where cruise control helps you maintain that speed. And eventually, when you will have to slow down because of some dangerous Indian highway obstruction, the brakes are always ready to slow the car. All 4 wheels have disc brakes and are so transparent, you will always know how much force is required on the pedal to slow down at any speed. Obviously, it has ABS, but they are not the ABS system that partially disengages brakes when pedals are pressed abruptly, and makes you feel like the brakes have failed (terrifying experience this Volkswagen owners would know)

Engine

S-Cross was launched with 1.6L and 1.3L diesel engines. But unfortunately, after the facelift in 2017, only 1.3L was continued. It was an engine that is used in many Maruti cars like the Swift, Brezza, Ciaz the lot. It is one of the best diesel engines produced and worked well with smaller cars (swift and this engine was a match made in heaven) but heavier models struggled for power and torque. Especially, in the heavier S-cross even with power raised to 89HP from 75HP.

There is not much in terms of excitement or sportiness, but it gets you going. The engine is best suited for a relaxed driving style (one hand on steering other on the stick) while enjoying a serene ride. The engine only responds proactively to throttle inputs above 2000 rpm, so if you are looking for an overtake on the road make sure to be in the correct gear. When going from 1st to 2nd gear (violently) the rpm goes above 2000, turbo kicks in and car torque steers weirdly towards the left. The car can climb steep inclines even with four passengers and luggage, making it a great country car in India.

Things I like about this car

  • Exterior
  • Reliable and Build quality
  • Comfortable seats (Perfect for a long drive)
  • Superior ride characteristics
  • Excellent braking
  • Good infotainment system

Things I don’t like

  • Digital driver dash missing
  • Missing rear Ac vents/ USB slots
  • Low on power (1.6L was better suited for this car)
  • Not many accessories on offer (Given the price range)

After 6 months of driving this car, it was everything we expected. The comfortable, practical and reliable car which can handle the notorious Indian roads.

Check out BHPian comments for more insights and information.

 
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