SUZUKI SX4 REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Small AWD crossover hatchback
Price: $26,190 (plus on-roads)
Fuel Economy (claimed): 8.0 l/100km
Fuel Economy (tested): 8.3 l/100km
The Suzuki SX4 is a useful jack-of-all-trades: a sub-$30k AWD hatchback that we found was just as much at home tackling the daily commute as it is trundling down a gravel road.
It’s not the most feature-packed small car around, and you could easily mistake it for just another small hatch, but it has its strengths.
For those looking to downsize into something with Japanese reliability and AWD grip, it’s not a bad drive and quite reasonable value.
Quality: The quality of the interior is generally good. The vast expanses of hard surfaces may turn off some buyers, but the SX4’s cabin feels durable and practical nevertheless.
Comfort: The seating position is quite upright, which has the effect of improving legroom both front and rear while giving the driver a better view of the road ahead.
It also helps when getting in and out (something that older passengers will appreciate) and the high roofline also ensures there’s plenty of headroom. But don’t be tempted to put three adults across the rear bench seat - they’ll struggle to get comfortable.
Annoyingly, the steering wheel only adjusts for tilt and not reach, and the sloping A-pillars impede forward vision somewhat. On the upside, fold-down armrests on both front seats give some extra comfort on long drives.
Equipment: Standard on the range-topping SX4 AWD S is keyless entry and ignition, cruise control, climate control, trip-computer, power windows, central locking, a single-disc CD audio system, 3.5mm auxiliary audio input, foglamps and 16-inch alloy wheels.
Bluetooth phone integration and a USB audio input are missing from the SX4’s spec sheet however.
Storage: The SX4’s boot is small with the rear seats up, measuring only 253 litres. Some extra storage space beneath the boot’s false floor helps a little, but for more meaningful cargo capacity you need to fold the rear seats down. With seats down, there’s 530 litres of storage space (and 992 litres if you count the area above the window line).
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: With outputs of 112kW and 190Nm, the SX4’s 2.0 litre petrol inline puts the Suzuki near the top of its segment for power. On the road though, it feels like it could use more oomph down low.
The CVT transmission helps offset the lack of low rpm torque by keeping revs high when needed, and is in many ways preferable to the standard six-speed manual.
Wheel-mounted shift paddles allow manual shuffling between six virtual ratios; unlike some CVTs, the SX4’s automatic is quite responsive in manual mode.
Refinement: The engine can sound quite coarse and buzzy when asked to work hard. It’s something that isn’t helped by the CVT’s preference to peg the engine at high rpms when ascending hills.
There’s also some wind noise at highway speed, courtesy of the SX4’s high-roofed body. Our tester was also fitted with a roof rack, which may have generated some wind noise of its own.
Suspension: The SX4’s torsion beam rear suspension isn’t as sophisticated as the multi-link independent rear suspensions of most of its competitors, but on-road ride comfort is generally quite acceptable (and it also frees up boot space).
Rough, potholed tarmac can upset the SX4’s composure - it will jiggle and bounce a bit if pressing on. However, at normal highway speeds on most roads (even some of our typical Australian back-roads), roadholding and body control is pretty good.
Normally front-wheel-drive, the SX4 Crossover’s iAWD system sends drive to the rear wheels should the front wheels struggle to find grip. It’s a handy feature to have on wet roads and gravel tracks.
Despite the crossover tag there’s not much in the way of ground clearance though, so don’t venture too far from the beaten track in the SX4.
Braking: The SX4’s all-disc brakes perform well, and the brake pedal is nicely weighted. Stopping performance on gravel is good too, thanks to a well-calibrated ABS system.
ANCAP rating: 4 stars.
Safety features: The SX4 offers driver and passenger front and side airbags, full-length curtain airbags, four-wheel disc brakes, ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, ESP with TCS, and three-point ELR seatbelts front and rear.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years/100,000 kilometres
Service costs: Servicing costs vary, so contact your local Suzuki dealer before purchase.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY:
Subaru Impreza XV automatic ($29,490) - More spacious than the SX4, but also markedly more expensive and hobbled with an old-tech four-speed automatic.
Mitsubishi ASX 4WD ($32,490) Solid value, a nicely styled hatch/wagon, and a good performer. It’s nearly a size bigger than the SX4 and is more expensive.
It can be a little noisy on coarse highway surfaces, and, like the SX4, lacks a bit of oomph until it has a few revs on board. (see ASX reviews)
Nissan Dualis Ti AWD ($31,890) Another that is also arguably more small hatch/wagon than SUV, the Dualis looks and feels larger and is more spacious than the SX4.
The Dualis has a pretty good ride, but the Suzuki perhaps feels perkier on-road. It’s a toss-up between them that may come down to styling preference and size. (see Dualis reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
The Suzuki SX4 Crossover performs well around town and is a good alternative to a small conventional hatch. Its high roofline and taller seating position gives it a bit of extra appeal, as does the flexibility and security of AWD - handy on the run to the snow or if getting a little off the beaten track.
A small boot counts against it, but for couples or very young families, there’s similar room to a small hatch.
Although it enjoys a price advantage, it’s not as fully featured as some of the newer entrants to the small crossover segment. Priced little more than a standard 2WD hatch however, it is certainly buying-value.