|SX4 is a crossover between super-mini
and SUV, and it shares many genes with Swift...
year Suzuki sells 2 million small cars globally. This number seems a
lot to BMW or Audi, but the profit margin of small cars is relatively
slim thus Suzuki has to spend every dollar smartly. Competing with
larger manufacturers like Toyota, Nissan, Honda and Hyundai-Kia, the
key of survival is to offer distinctive products while keeping cost
down. Suzuki SX4 is a classic example of this strategy.
SX4 replaces the outgoing Liana / Aerio as Suzuki's large car. Like its
predecessor, SX4 doesn't look like conventional cars. Its cute design
by Giugiaro's Italdesign is a crossover between super-mini and SUV.
This is obvious from its 1.6-meter height, large ground clearance,
pushed-out wheels and dent-resisting plastic wheel arches. The
offroader image is not fake, as the car has a clever AWD system using
electromagnetic multi-plate clutch to drive the rear wheels. It offers
3 modes for the driver to select: FWD (to save fuel), locked 4WD (to
enhance traction) or Auto (which engage the rear wheels once the front
wheels slide). As long as you do not confuse it with a Land Rover, SX4
should satisfy your demand in countryside area. As nothing else at this
segment offer this kind of offroad ability, the Suzuki can stand out
from the crowd.
On the cost side, SX4 is a classic example of cost sharing. It is built
on a stretched Swift platform, sharing the same powertrain,
suspensions, brakes and many other components with Swift. To share more
cost, Suzuki offers it for Fiat to sell under the name Fiat Sedici.
This benefits both sides, as Suzuki needs the additional sales volume
to fill its Hungary plant while Fiat wants a mini-SUV without making
heavy investment. As an exchange, Fiat supplies its credible 1.9-liter
turbo diesel engine to the Suzuki. This is crucial to its European
sales. The petrol engines are Suzuki's own units. They consist of a
107hp 1.6-liter 16V VVT from Swift and a larger 2.0-liter 16V engine
offered exclusively for the American market.
interior of SX4 is fairly spacious. Although its 2500 mm wheelbase is
just the norm of super-minis, its tall roof gives it a spacious feel
and enables a more comfortable, high and upright seating position. Rear
seat room almost matches those cars a class up, say, Toyota Corolla.
Unfortunately, the pronounced transmission tunnel required by the AWD
system robs foot room for the third rear passenger. This mean the car
is best used as a 4-seater. Luggage room is small in the hatchback
because of its short length, but the 3-box sedan derivative offers a
useful 440 liters.
The driver faces a neat dashboard and easy-to-use center console.
Although the cabin is light and airy, forward vision is hampered by
thick A-pillars. Driving position is good except the lack of a
telescopic steering wheel. The seats are flat and lack of lateral
support. The materials used throughout the cabin are generally
low-rent, which isn't surprising for a cost-conscious car. Fortunately,
some scores are clawed back by the non-gloss surface of center console,
the smooth and easy-to-use switchgears.
On the road, the SX4 is a tidy handler. The combination of
all-wheel-drive and ESP gives it good traction and adjustability in
corners. Although its steering isn't as responsive as Swift, and it
rolls more, it rides with the firm yet compliant character of Swift.
The European-style handling makes it more fun to drive than most small
cars from Japan and Korea, which are often too soft and
Burdened by the SUV ingredients, SX4 is inevitably heavy and slow. The
1.6-liter engine with 107 horsepower needs to work hard to accelerate
from rest to 60 mph in 10 or so seconds. Its short of torque means
in-gear acceleration is quite poor. At low rev this engine is sweet and
willing, but at high rev it is noisy. Predictably, the 2.0-liter engine
with its higher torque output provides more flexible performance and
less noise. However, with a 0-60 mph time of 9 seconds, it is still one
of the slowest cars in its class. On the positive side, both engines
mate with a good 5-speed manual transmission with short throw and slick
Overall speaking, SX4 is still worth consideration, especially if you
live in the countryside. It is unique in the market for offering some
offroad ability at a very affordable price and practical package. It
looks good and quite fun to drive, too. However, it is neither the best
car of the class nor the best offering from Suzuki. We still prefer its