SX4 AWD & 2WD hatch - Caradvice
CarAdvice Rating: 4/5
By Paul Maric | 17 May, 2010
Spending two weeks in two Suzuki SX4s wasn’t exactly my idea of fun, considering Easter was in the middle of the loans and that meant hauling the car-laden family across the state to see relatives.
It didn’t take long before my fears were banished and I realised how much of an improvement the revised SX4 is over its predecessor.
My first tenure was in the automatic SX4. The four-speed automatic has been ditched for a clever and very functional Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). The CVT’s infinite gear ratio configuration means that power is available almost instantly at any point during acceleration.
The strength of the SX4’s engine is proportional to its revolutions. When power is required, a quick stab of the throttle has the engine revolutions jump into the higher end of the rev range and instant torque is on hand. This was the SX4’s main downside prior to the upgrade, especially when it came to large hills and overtaking.
Subtle exterior and interior changes give the SX4 a fresh look. Despite its current stint on the market, the SX4 is still a handsome looking vehicle. The design is unisex and won’t have guys discounted as gals at first glance.
All-wheel-drive SX4 variants pick up plastic wheel arch guards in addition to alloy wheels for the top spec model.
Inside the cabin you will find Suzuki’s modest, yet functional layout of instruments. The easy to use and find-at-a-glance controls make doing things while on the move an easy task. A great sound system with a 9-speaker CD-player will win over audio-philes, in addition to the auxiliary input jack as standard fitment across the range.
Rear leg room is very reasonable for a car of this size. I carted around four adults on drives of no more than two hours with few complaints. Head room in both the front and rear is exceptional, with a high roofline aiding entry and egress.
The driving position is commanding, but still quite sporty at the same time. The driver sits low to the ground, but has exceptional visibility out the front, rear and sides.
The suspension has been tuned for comfort, working to soak up bumps in the road and the types of B-grade gravel roads you would expect in rural areas.
Braking is taken care of by four wheel disc brakes that offer progressive brake feel and plenty of feedback through the pedal.
While the four-wheel-drive system in the SX4 won’t transform the small Suzuki into a rock-hopper, it helps in situations where traction is limited and assistance is required to traverse slippery surfaces.
During the SX4 launch, we had the chance to drive up a damp grass hill that was impossible to climb in two-wheel-drive mode. When switched to the automatic slip sensing four-wheel-drive mode, the system engages the rear axle by virtue of an automatic clutch, allowing up to 50% of the available torque to reach the rear wheels.
Where the automatic SX4 felt lively and sporty, the two-wheel-drive manual variant we tested felt lethargic and gutless in comparison. The CVT reaps the most out of the SX4’s four-cylinder engine, where the manual variant feels as though it is constantly being worked to achieve results.
I was pleasantly surprised to see a sixth gear though as most vehicles in this segment feature five-speed manual gearboxes. The main advantage of the sixth gear is a reduction in fuel consumption in comparison to the CVT (7.3L/100km vs 7.6L/100km respectively).
Under the bonnet lives Suzuki’s revised 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine. It produces 112kW and 190Nm of torque. While the two-wheel-drive only models consume 7.3L/100km and 7.6L/100km respectively for the manual and CVT.Tthe four-wheel-drive models jump to 7.6L/100km and 8.0L/100km respectively for the manual and CVT. The increase in fuel consumption is due to the added weight of the four-wheel-drive components.
Manufacturer list pricing starts at $20,490 for the front-wheel-drive SX4 tested and ends at $25,690 for the automatic four-wheel-drive SX4 model also tested.
Standard features include: Front and rear electric windows, central locking, power steering, air conditioning, trip computer, MP3 compatible CD-player with 8 speakers, auxiliary input jack, front SRS airbags, engine immobiliser and Electronic Stability Control.
The S model picks up: Leather wrapped steering wheel, keyless entry and start, cruise control, automatic climate control, MP3 compatible CD-player with 9 speakers, fog lights, side airbags, curtain airbags and traction control.
While the Suzuki SX4 doesn’t have the cachet of a Mini Cooper or brand image of a Mercedes-Benz A-Class, it does offer genuine and honest motoring at a reasonable price.
The four-wheel-drive variant also gives owners the ability to spend a weekend away camping and not have to worry about ground clearance or getting bogged in mild off-road terrain.
The Suzuki SX4 is the best of both worlds and is a car worth test driving if you’re in the market for a compact run-about that will last for years to come.
CarAdvice Overall Rating: 4/5
How does it Drive: 4/5
How does it Look: 4/5
How does it Go: 3/5
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