The S Cross is a car for enthusiasts as much as it was for the family man. We know, because we ran one for about a year as a long termer in our fleet. It made for the perfect support car, keeping up with fast and much more expensive machinery during photoshoots. It could also go where the roads didn’t exist, during off-road events. And it was quite at home parked in the hotel portico as was at picking up the weekend shopping at the supermarket. It is a multi talented car whose appeal was only understood by a relatively small group of car buyers. After starting a small club for S Cross, we started meeting many owners and they all have this ‘we know something that the others don’t’ look about their purchase.
Manu Mathai from Kochi, wanted something different for his next car beyond the usual hatchbacks, sedans and SUVs. The S Cross was seen as the combination of all three – a crossover that is larger than a hatch, drives like a sedan, yet can tackle broken stuff like a crossover. It was a year back I spotted him with his car on the road. He was in the middle of some family errands but once we started talking, he didn’t want to stop. I insisted that he should keep going, so with numbers exchanged and a few photographs taken, we went our separate ways until recently he bought the car down for a drive. This feature thus, has been a long time coming. Good news is, it had more modifications by then.
What impresses you most is how different it looks from other S Crosses on the road. The ride height is much lower and the stance is near perfect. Giving the lowered feel is the body coloured lower part of the car which are usually black. Manu has painted the wheel arches and other trim in matching premium silver colour to give it a more street focussed look. The 18 inch ADV.1 style wheels are another pointer and they fill the arches so much nicer. The rims were later painted black and they looked even better when they were hyper silver the first time we saw it. This is a base Sigma variant which comes without roof rails and that adds to the lowered look. The blacked out grille, black mirrors, blacked out badges etc are details you wouldn’t miss. We have said this before that starting out with the basic model in the Nexa range is a clever move, because you get everything like power windows, ABS and airbags etc, but with loads of spare cash for mods.
The famed 90bhp 1.3MJD gets a remap that tremendously improves the way it behaves. There is no lag and performance is now closer to an S Cross 1.6. There is no sudden rush of power as the focus here is on drivability and you can potter around in third gear for the most part. The turbo spools so much faster, thanks to a custom downpipe and a full exhaust system. It also gives out a rorty note, which is still unmistakably diesel, but has a sporty feel to it.
The car runs on custom made springs that are a bit bumpy which along with the 18 inch wheels means you have to be careful on our roads. The car rides on 245/45 18 tyres. Manu has also addressed the interiors with artleather seats that were retrimmed for better support. A Pioneer touchscreen music system with speakers was added too. Manu says, “being a niche car it was difficult and most of the parts have to be custom made as aftermarket ones aren’t available”. But that is what makes it so different, isn’t it?