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Elvis Festival
2008 Elvis Festival

Road Test

Suzuki SX4 Sedan

By Ian Barrett

11th May, 2008

Suzuki SX4 Sedan 
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Recent times have seen the car sales pendulum swing in favour of small and medium sized cars, as motorists move to contain rising fuel costs. And a resurgent Suzuki has been in the thick of it, with their very popular Swift making significant inroads in the light car class. In keeping with their claim to have a model for "every way of life", Suzuki have recently released the SX4 sedan, bigger 'brother' to the Swift, and designed for buyers needing more space and performance than small cars offer. The SX4 comes in both 4-door sedan and 5-door hatch variants and it is a very worthy alternative to other compact rivals, such as Toyota Corolla, Nissan Tiida and Holden Viva. To see how Suzuki are likely to fare in this hotly contested market, we spent a week with the 4-speed automatic version of the SX4 'S' Sedan.

Vaguely similar in profile to their earlier Liana sedan, the new offering has much sharper styling in a slightly bigger package overall. Our test vehicle was finished in 'Classy Red' metallic paint, very nicely highlighted by the attractive 15" alloy wheels and front fog lamps which are all part of the "S" package. At this point however, we must say we favour the look of the hatch, which is a very neat package indeed. With the tall boot and smaller wheel/tyre combination, the sedan just seems to have lost a little bit of 'balance' in the translation, but it is still, nevertheless, a good looking car. Vision through the unique front quarter windows is a little restrictive and takes some getting used to in tighter manoeuvring. Surely the priority here has been form over function!

All SX4's come equipped with the usual items we've come to expect, even in entry-level cars, such as power steering, air conditioning (with pollen filter), remote central locking with immobiliser, power windows and mirrors, adjustable steering column (tilt only) and an 8-speaker AM/FM radio/single CD player with MP3 compatibility. Seats are supportive and comfortable, with the driver's seat offering height adjustment. The 60/40 split fold rear seat further enhances the practicality of the sedan, extending the size of the already huge 515-litre boot. The attractive dash and instrument layout, with alloy highlights, includes a read-out for average/instantaneous fuel usage. The cabin is well-served with cup holders and other storage nooks, including a tray beneath the front passenger's seat.

Suzuki SX4 Sedan 

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The 'S' model we tested comes with side and curtain airbags, to maximise occupant protection in the event of a serious collision. We consider the extra cost of the 'S' to be well worthwhile for the safety aspect alone. But also included in the package are a few extra goodies, including "proximity" keyless entry and ignition, climate-control, leather-bound steering wheel (with audio and cruise control buttons). Fit and finish, both inside and out, are exemplary.

The standard 2.0-litre, DOHC 16-valve engine puts out a robust 107 kW @ 5,800 rpm and 184 Nm @ 3,500 rpm, giving it somewhat more sparkle than some of its natural rivals, although the 4-speed automatic transmission does sap some of the performance. And Suzuki's quoted fuel consumption of 9.5L/100km (combined cycle) does mean the extra performance comes at some cost, although our experience on test suggests this figure can be bettered. On the up side, with the standard cruise control engaged, the SX4 made light work of the longest and steepest hills we encountered out on the highway, not something that can be said for some of the 1.8-litre competition. Naturally, it's equally at home in city traffic.

Like it's smaller 'brother', the SX4 has fairly sharp handling, at least on smooth bitumen. Suspension is by struts and coils at the front end, and a semi-independent coil-sprung torsion beam arrangement at the rear, giving it a nice balance with very good ride qualities. However, again, following in the 'footsteps' of the Swift, the ride does get a little unsettled once road surfaces deteriorate. The conventional power-assisted rack and pinion steering is nicely weighted, with better than average feel, making for quite a pleasant driving experience.

Braking is by ventilated discs on the front, combined with rear drums. ABS with EBD (Electronic Brakeforce Distribution) add to the confidence levels. While we had no issues at all with their performance in normal driving conditions, it's worth noting that the hatch version gets rear discs. An unusual decision, given that both have similar kerb weights.

On the subject of options though, Suzuki have plenty of desirable goodies for owners wishing to personalise their new pride and joy. Among the more desirable are rear parking sensors, Garmin satellite navigation, 6-CD-stacker, i-Pod interfaces, dash mats and even a First Aid kit. For the more sporting-oriented, there are roof racks which can be fitted with a range of extra attachments such as bike and watercraft carriers, ski holders, and even luggage pods. Metallic paint is available for a low $300 - just as well, because pearl white is the only solid colour on the SX4 palette!

Suzuki SX4 Sedan 
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Discerning buyers after a combination of European style and Japanese reliability, will find the newest Suzuki offers a refreshing alternative to the many established competitors. The base model Suzuki SX4 sedan, with manual transmission, is priced from $19,990 (RRP). The auto transmission adds $2,000 to the price, whilst the 'S' package adds $3,000.

Our test car, a Suzuki SX4 'S' sedan with automatic transmission is priced from $24,990 plus on-road costs and options. With a 3-year/100,000km warranty with 24/7 Roadside Assistance, the SX4 is very good value, undercutting some similarly equipped Japanese rivals by two or three thousand dollars, while offering more lively performance.

In the current competitive sales race, this will be enough to entice many to join the Suzuki "Way of Life!"

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Other Suzuki content: here.

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