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Smaller heart, yet big on performance

| Updated on: Dec 31, 2015
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The Maruti Suzuki S-Cross DDiS 200 is perfectly at ease in the city with the smaller engine. You get a bargain with the 1.3L, save money at the fuel pump and also leave behind a smaller carbon footprint!

Despite all the mayhem surrounding the ban on large diesel engines, Maruti Suzuki is sitting smug and comfy with its small, sub-two-litre diesel engines. Better still, the diesel engines in its cars, except the two-pot mill in the Celerio, are not even its own.

While one can argue that this relieves Maruti from investing heavily into new diesel engine development, the fact is no other manufacturer seems to be able to pull off the kind of integration that Maruti’s engineers manage with the same engine.

Maruti magic

And mind you that is not just in terms of being able to shoehorn a large engine into a small bay, but also in terms of offering higher states of tune and still bettering the mileage compared to others using the same engine. Of course, the best example of this is the 1.3-litre Fiat Multijet diesel engine that has been used in many models including the Swift.

This engine just seems so much more usable in the Swift and the Ritz, than other the brands’ models including Fiat’s own. In the Swift, the 1.3L DDiS, as it is called by Maruti, seems to be quieter, peppier and more efficient than the others.

Not too surprising then that this engine was chosen to power even the larger, heavier S-Cross. This crossover was the first ‘NEXA’ vehicle for Maruti Suzuki. Basically, the new SX4 in other markets, the S-Cross had to be positioned as being the sole occupant of a niche between B+ segment hatchbacks and the fast emerging compact SUV segment.

During the run up to the launch and immediately thereafter, we had access only to the 1.6-litre, DDiS 320 variant of the S-Cross. Here is our take on the smaller-engined sibling after an extensive test drive of the S-Cross DDiS 200.

Smaller sibling

By now all of us are familiar with the S-Cross’ design. It gives you the feel of a crossover when you sit inside, though the design from the outside seems a bit neither here nor there. It certainly doesn’t lack character and is one of the most aggressive Suzuki designs that we have seen.

The black body side-cladding and the faux aluminium under-guards at the front and the rear have been integrated neatly to accentuate the car’s crossover flavour.

Inside the S-Cross’ cabin, the best overall feature is the perceived quality of the dashboard and the materials used for all the interior elements. For all those who sighed with resignation while observing that the Indian variants of Suzuki models never seemed to have the same interior quality as their European and Japanese variants, the S-Cross would come as a breath of fresh air. Maruti engineers haven’t skimped on the quality even in the lower priced DDiS 200 (the 1.3-litre engine).

Maruti changed its naming convention from the earlier shortened, engine size to the new peak torque as the numeric appendage with the S-Cross. So, while the 1.6-litre diesel engine was called the DDiS 320, the 1.3-litre diesel engine became the DDiS 200.

Adequate power

For readers who are familiar with this engine, the nomenclature might still be a bit confusing. That is because this popular engine gets a higher state of tune for the S-Cross. So, while the same DDiS 1.3L produces 75PS of peak power and 190Nm of peak torque in the Swift, it generates about 90PS and 200Nm in the S-Cross. The extra power and torque is obviously welcome because the S-Cross is almost 200 kgs heavier than the Swift.

But, if you have experienced the 1.6-litre diesel – called the DDiS 320 – in the S-Cross, the 1.3-litre must seem like it will be very sluggish and under-powered on paper. But, the on-road truth is, it is anything but that. Thumb the start button (we were driving the top-end Alpha variant) and crank the engine, and it settles down to a steady thrum at about 900 rpm. Accelerating slowly and steadily gives us an idea about the amount of low-end torque there is to work with.

Turbolag is very evident, but a steady build up of torque starts from about 1,400 rpm and you get a rush of it once the needle reaches the 2,000 rpm mark. So, keeping the engine on a bit of a boil is necessary if you want sudden surges of power while on the highway. Stomping the pedal from sub-1,000rpm can seem a bit frustrating otherwise.

But, steady throttle inputs at slower speeds does make the DDiS 200 seem like it is adequate for most users who will end up spending almost all the time behind the wheel in slow-moving traffic. The engine does get noisy at high revs and at high speeds, but it doesn’t seem wheezy or out of breath quickly. Gear ratios have been optimised for a mix of peppy, yet efficient cycle.

Bottomline

The S-Cross is offered only with the two diesel engines and the 1.3L really proves itself quite worthy in this crossover. The fact that a couple of trim variants, including the Alpha (or ZDi in the previous cars) we drove, are kitted out with all the features that the top-end 1.6L is offered with makes it even more attractive.

The S-Cross DDiS 200’s ride quality and handling is no different from the DDiS 320. There is no badging outside the S-Cross to identify that this is smaller sibling. The clincher though is the fact that the DDiS 200 is trim-to-trim nearly Rs 3 lakh cheaper than the DDiS 320.

Published on March 10, 2018

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