The Suzuki SX4 has always intrigued me, mostly because I’m not quite sure what it is. I’m aware that it’s a car of some sorts, but what segment does it fit into? What is it competing with in the market place? And then I stumbled across an article detailing a trip up the Sani pass with, undertaken with the little SX4. Now I was properly confused.
Engine, power and drivetrain – Suzuki SX4Maybe the oily bits can give us a clue. The SX4 runs a 2.0 litre naturally aspirated inline-4, and in the AWD drive versions, will send power to the rear wheels when the fronts lose traction. So it’s not a traditional 4x4, but you can feel the extra grip when you press on.
With 112kw at a high 6200rpm, and 190Nm of torque peaking at 4000rpm, the engine is perhaps showing its age. But, in an era of smaller displacement engines with turbochargers, the bigger displacement gives the car a less frenetic, smoother character which is quite refreshing. I’m also a little sceptical of these highly charged smaller engines. It may be anecdotal, but it feels like the sort of engine in the SX4 is less stressed and will perhaps give less problems later on in life.
Claimed fuel consumption is 7.3 litres/100km, and I averaged 8.5 litres, which is very close indeed.
Ride and HandlingI was incredibly impressed with how smooth the ride was. Higher sidewall tyres help deal with road imperfections but it’s more than that; this is cleverly set up car. The higher ride height means that things do get a bit wallowy if you’re pushing too hard, but it feels like the car is set up for comfortable cruising more than anything. It’s a quiet ride and feels effortless.
The gearshift action is amongst the smoothest I’ve ever sampled. There’s very little resistance on the shifter and it feel like you can flick through the gears with one finger. It all adds up to a very relaxed feel – if your usual daily drive features lots of urban running about, it will be a long, long time until you tire of driving this car.
The SX4 feels very sure footed on the road, and I imagine that feeling will carry over onto gravel. While I didn’t have a chance to take it off road, if one of these can climb up the formidable Sani pass, that’s good enough for me.
Suzuki SX4 – InteriorThe layout and aesthetics of the interior is not exactly going to leave you breathless, but materials are high quality and everything is solidly put together. Sometimes smaller cars can try too hard to be “funky” – something which makes the interior date quickly. The SX4 is grown up and mature, but does verge on dull – like grey business socks. Everything is very clearly marked and laid out; there is an emphasis on ease of use rather than clutter.
The front seats are set up for long distance. Comfy and well-sponged (yes, that is a term and I’m sticking with it) and each front seat has a fold down arm rest. With the arm rest in place, you feel like you might actually be at home in your lounge. This is a clever move by Suzuki. It is a scientific fact (that I have made up completely) that when provided with a full arm rest, it is impossible to drive in a hurry. This makes the car safer and uses less fuel. It’s all very clever.
Rear space is just as ample and while the boot is quite deep, it is a little compromised and remains about the size you would find in a normal small hatchback. However with the seats folded flat you could very easily fit a year’s worth of groceries in there. And probably a mountain bike or two. But not at the same time. You don’t want to crush your barbecue Fritos.
Suzuki SX4 – SafetyActive safety tech includes ABS, full Electronic Stability Program (ESP), with EBD and EBA (emergency brake assist). Passive features include dual front airbags, side airbags built into the seats and curtain airbags.
Personally, the increased handling ability offered by AWD means you’ll hopefully be less likely to need the rest of the safety systems.
Suzuki SX4 – SummaryIt’s probably best to look at the SX4 completely isolated from the rest of the market. There are aspects of it that make it difficult to compare to other vehicles, but at the same time the price puts it in some very strong company. It’s very close to a segment up, where cars like the new Toyota Rav4 and Ford Kuga are looking good. However with a six year service plan, there is added value. At the current retail price, I would say there are higher-specced, more attractive vehicles on the market, but very few will give you the ride and build quality offered by the Suzuki.
It just feels like the kind of car that will start first time every morning for the next decade and beyond, and that in itself is very valuable. The SX4 will be replaced with the latest generation late next year and that too makes me think that this might be one of the best second-hand buys you could make.
Suzuki SX4 – PricingSX4 2.0 Manual R237 900 SX4 2.0 CVT R252 900 SX4 2.0 Manual AWD R257 900
Prices include a standard six-year/90 000 km service plan, and a three-year/100 000 km warranty.
Suzuki SX4 – Quick SpecsEngine: 2.0 litre petrol naturally aspirated inline-4 Power: 112kW at 6200rpm Torque: 190Nm at 4000rpm Fuel consumption: 7.3 litres/100km (combined cycle, claimed) Fuel capacity: 45 litres CO2 Emissions: 178 g/km Acceleration: 0 – 100km/h in (not supplied) Top Speed: 184km/h