We spent a week with the all-new Suzuki SX4 AllGrip and see how it fares both on and offroad.
The 2014 Suzuki SX4 is completely new compared to its predecessor. It boasts an impressively spacious interior, a refined engine as well as a good helping of standard equipment. The cabin is well built and there's a premium feel to the product too. We drove it on the local launch not so long ago, and you can check out my initial SX4 impressions here.
SpecificationI was impressed with the specification levels of the Suzuki SX4 AllGrip. For this amount of money, you're getting a very generous helping of gadgets and gizmos. In fact, there are vehicles costing almost R500 000 which don't offer as much kit as the Suzuki SX4 AllGrip.
There's daytime-running LEDs, automatic halogen headlamps, cruise control, Bluetooth connectivity, USB port, air conditioner, keyless start, multi-function steering wheel, park distance sensors and automatic windscreen wipers. It's safe too, with seven airbags, hill assist, ESP, EBD and Brake Assist.
Engine and economyAs mentioned in the launch story, the Suzuki SX4 AllGrip is powered by the same 1.6-litre engine found in the Swift Sport. The engine has been detuned in the interests of improved economy, and in this application it's adequate. At Johannesburg altitudes the 1.7 ton vehicle will feel a little lethargic, but at sea level the vehicle's performance was reasonable.
With 86 kW and 156 Nm the vehicle offers average performance with its real strength being fuel consumption. Even while being driven quickly over a few days, the car was returning figures of around 7.5 l/100km. I found the five-speed manual gearbox had a solid and precise action, which is always a pleasant feeling.
Offroad and 4X4 abilityHaving missed out on sampling the AllGrip version at the launch, I was keen to put the vehicle through its paces on a combination of surfaces such as beach sand, gravel and your stereotypical badly-damaged South African road. AllGrip is an electronically controlled system which allows the power from the 1.6-litre engine to be transferred between the front and rear axles. In Auto mode, the car does everything for you while Sport mode sends torque around to improve cornering ability.
When you head off the roads and onto tougher terrain, turn the dial to Snow/Mud mode. The vehicle gives you better traction and the car sends the power to whichever axle requires traction. It's very promising on paper, and in reality the system works. After charging around on graveled roads, I bit off more than I can chew by attempting to scale a thick beach sand dune. Sadly a combination of no low range transfer box and average ground clearance of only 175 mm ensured the SX4 AllGrip became stuck with the only damage being a bruised ego. (mine!)
Conclusion and summaryThe new Suzuki SX4 is a well assembled and premium offering from the Japanese manufacturer. The AllGrip system isn't bad and to be honest, I asked a lot of the SX4 when I did some serious offroading. I would bet the majority of SX4 AllGrip owners would never push the car to the limits like I did, which is why I won't be too critical on the vehicle's abilities.
Given its levels of specification and build quality, I have to ask one question. Why would you spend over R300 000 on a premium hatchback when you can have a generously specced and spacious crossover, which can also go offroad?
Suzuki SX4 AllGrip price in South AfricaThe Suzuki SX4 AllGrip retails for R319 900, with the range starting from R265 900. The price includes a three-year / 90 000 km service plan. There's also a three-year / 100 000 km warranty thrown in.
Suzuki SX4 AllGrip (2014) Quick Specs
|Engine||1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol|
|Power||86 kW @ 6 000 rpm|
|Torque||156 Nm @ 4 400 rpm|
|Transmission||5-speed manual gearbox|
|0-100km/h||12.5 seconds (claimed)|
|Fuel economy||6.2 l/100km (claimed)|
. Surprisingly capable on both tar and offroad conditions . Generous specification levels . Engine offers a good balance between economy and performance.