Suzuki SX4

Debut: 2006
Maker: Suzuki
Predecessor: Liana / Aerio

SX4 is a crossover between super-mini and SUV, and it shares many genes with Swift...

Every 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.

The 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 understeer-biased.

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 gearshift.

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 smaller cars.
The above report was last updated on 5 Nov 2007. All Rights Reserved.


General remarks

SX4 1.6 AWD
SX4 2.0 AWD
SX4 sedan 2.0 FWD
Front-engined, 4WD
Front-engined, 4WD Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Steel monocoque Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
Mainly steel Mainly steel
Length / width / height 4140 / 1755 / 1620 mm 4140 / 1755 / 1620 mm 4510 / 1730 / 1545 mm
Wheelbase 2500 mm 2500 mm 2500 mm
Inline-4 Inline-4
1586 cc
1995 cc 1995 cc
Valve gears
DOHC 16 valves, VVT
DOHC 16 valves
DOHC 16 valves
Other engine features
Max power
107 hp / 5600 rpm
143 hp / 5800 rpm
143 hp / 5800 rpm
Max torque
107 lbft / 4000 rpm
136 lbft / 3500 rpm
136 lbft / 3500 rpm
5-speed manual
5-speed manual 5-speed manual
Suspension layout
F: strut
R: torsion-beam
F: strut
R: torsion-beam
F: strut
R: torsion-beam
Suspension features
- -
Tyres front/rear
Kerb weight
1265 kg
1318 kg
1253 kg
Top speed
106 mph (c)
114 mph (c)
114 mph (c)
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
Performance tested by: *Autocar, **C&D

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