This new crossover vehicle from Suzuki has a host of great features from Suzuki’s popular Grand Vitara. It has enjoyed rave reviews from its release, which is not surprising given it’s a roomy and well-handled AWD that doubles as a very fuel efficient passenger car.
The SX4’s styling is as modern as tomorrow. The driver sits high, as in the Vitara, enjoying an excellent view of surroundings and at the same time enjoys a handling that makes for very enjoyable driving. True, the Grand Vitara’s low range gearing is absent, but with a willing engine matched to on-demand AWD the SX4 will certainly take its share of gravel roads, fire trails, and beaches in its stride.
For highway and city driving, the standard 2WD is selected at the flick of a console switch. This will see power going to the SX4’s front wheels but added torque can be provided to the rear wheels if sensors detect the need. Four wheel drive can be locked in as required, but unless conditions are particularly bad most drivers will probably opt for Suzuki’s i-AWD (intelligent-AWD) to do the work for them and ensure that traction is applied where required.
Suzuki describes the SX4 as being akin to their Swift crossed with a Grand Vitara. After spending some time aboard a four speed auto SX4, I would consider the comparison fairly accurate – there’s certainly a sporty feeling about the vehicle, yet its offroad roots are still there.
Externally, the SX4 exhibits sleek styling featuring a wide body with a rising waistline accentuated by the large triangular A-pillar windows. Inside, the design translates into useful space. There’s ample leg room, plenty of head room and with the dash angled away from front occupants one certainly won’t bump a knee on entering. Rear seat passengers will enjoy wide doors to facilitate entry or exit of the vehicle and once inside an elevated rear seat will allow them to enjoy the view. Luggage space behind the rear seats is fair with a 60/40 split fold rear seat arrangement allowing long objects to be carried while two passengers remain comfortably seated. When the rear seat is folded down and forward a flat and enlarged rear luggage space is available.
The Japanese manufactured SX4 is powered by a 2.0L, sixteen valve, four-cylinder engine with a 107kW of power and 184Nm of torque output. It’s no fire breather but certainly makes easy work of kicking the SX4 off the mark, with gear changes so imperceptibly smooth that careful scrutiny of the tachometer is required to see they are occurring. Interestingly, a diesel engine is available in overseas markets.
The SX4’s ride is virtually that of a passenger car. The independent MacPherson strut set up in the front is teamed with a rigid torsion beam at the rear to provide a gentle but firm ride with stable cornering and easy handling. The driver will find the steering neutral, albeit somewhat centre weighted, but virtually without feedback.
The centre panel features a decent in dash audio system linked to eight speakers with MP3 playback capability. Added features include climate controlled air-conditioning with a pollen filter (which will interest asthmatics), central information display showing time, outside temperature, fuel consumption in litres per 100km, as well as average consumption at a given rev range.
The SX4 also features a keyless entry and start system (with the required transponder being kept in proximity to the onboard sensor), power steering, cruise control, electric windows and mirrors and audio controls mounted on the leather steering wheel. There are also fog lights, 16” alloy wheels, SRS air bags and ABS brakes.
Storage space is not neglected either. There are several storage spaces for smaller items around the cabin plus a large slide out tray beneath the front passenger’s seat for valuables. There’s even a decent compartment within the instrument panel featuring a soft red glow at night that is very easy on the eyes.
With its long list of safety features and great ride the SX4 is virtually a complete package. It’s a delight to drive whether on the highway or in the suburbs yet is still capable of heading up the beach or along a river track when it’s holiday time. Fit and finish of panels is absolute Suzuki, so it was good to notice there were no rattles or squeaks anywhere while driving on the rough stuff. There’s no doubt the SX4 would tow a small boat with ease given the flexibility of the engine. The auto, as reviewed, comes home for around the $27k mark – plus on roads –which is fiercely competitive on today’s market.Reads: 646