REVIEW DATE: 19 Feb 2009
Suzuki's SX4 may be easily overlooked but time spent getting to know it can pay dividends. Steve Walker reports.
Some cars make standing out their business. That might mean turning heads while driving down the high street, raising eyebrows with cutting edge features or setting index fingers tip-tapping on calculators with their strong value propositions. Other cars tend to blend in and you might think that this is a bad thing but in many cases and for many buyers, it can be a very good one. Take Suzuki's SX4. You may never have heard of or seen it and if you have, there's a fair chance that you've already forgotten. There's nothing particularly eye-catching, technologically impressive or statistically interesting about it. It's unremarkable, unless you count the way that it's so effective at handling the mundanity of modern life.
We've been getting to grips with the Suzuki SX4 over the course of a long term test drive. That means living with the car day in day out. Our front-wheel-drive model (4Grip 4x4 versions are also available) arrived with a 1.6 DDiS diesel engine, in silver, and immediately got off to a shaky start. There was no mad rush for the keys and the car spent a good few days whiling away the hours in the office car park. Its problem was an absence of charisma and intrigue. The SX4 looks like the tall supermini-sized vehicle with mild off-road styling cues that it ultimately is. Even a monstrously bad car would get more attention because its foibles would stand out: the SX4 just blended in. Until, that is, somebody began using it.
It took time, but gradually the keys to the SX4 were harder to come by. In its quiet, unassuming style, it was weaselling its way into the affections of those who'd taken the time to get to know it. The first thing to say is that you quickly notice how much easier it is to get in and out of an SX4 than a low slung sportscar or even a conventional supermini. It's that bit higher, so it's more straightforward to step in and out with no hoisting or lowering involved.
It's a similar situation at the rear where the boot's loading lip is similarly well located. The SX4 has happily accommodated the results of a number of £100+ supermarket spends and the various carrier bags are contained within the deep, square space very effectively. Getting larger items in is less easy because that boot floor is a few inches lower than the opening and although the back seats fold down easily with the release of one reassuringly chunky catch, the extra space they create doesn't sit flush with the existing boot.
".the place where it shines is not on the showroom floor or the test drive route but in the real world"
Further advantages of the SX4's taller shape are felt in the driving position which is upright and has decent all-round visibility. You can see the extremities of the car and this, along with the stubby bonnet and flat rear, helps a lot when edging into tight parking spaces. More user-friendliness abounds in the cabin which, while lacking much by way of visual excitement, is also without those little annoyances that can get right up you nose over time. The amount of storage space is an issue as the SX4 can only offer slim door pockets and a few cup holders in the centre console but elsewhere, the fat buttons and hearty dials are great to use. The materials are also of decent quality and put together in a very sturdy fashion: this is certainly a car that you can strap your kids into and feel confident that they won't rip it to shreds.
The SX4's driving experience is arguably its best feature. It feels just like a conventional supermini on the road, with little of the pitching, lurching or body roll that can become apparent in tall 4x4-style vehicles. The steering is accurate and well weighted, turning into corners neatly where the abundant front-end grip can be made the most of. The five-speed gearbox has a punchy mechanical action with only a short throw required to slot into the next ratio and it helps give the SX4 a nimble, responsive feel.
Fuel economy benefits from the absence of weighty 4x4 mechanicals in our model and while we've failed to replicate the 53.3mpg that the car returns on the official combined cycle, returns in the high 40s are not unheard of. CO2 emissions of 139g/km also make the SX4 very reasonable to tax.
Equipment-wise, our SX4 covers the basics very well. There's remote central locking, electric front windows, a CD stereo with volume controls on the steering wheel, a trip computer and roof rails. The safety provision is also generous with twin front, side and curtain airbags, ABS and three-point belts all round. Given the prices Suzuki is asking for its SX4, it's hard to argue with this level of specification.
The Suzuki SX4 has a tough task attracting buyers in a modern small car market when up against rivals that are far less backward in coming forward. The existence of the Fiat Sedici is a further hindrance as it's virtually the same vehicle as the SX4 albeit with a Fiat badge on its grille. In order to appreciate this little car's considerable qualities, you've really got to give it a chance because the place where it shines is not on the showroom floor or the test drive route but in the real world.
The results below show the top SX4 deals on buyacar
|Suzuki SX4 2.0 DDiS SZ5 4X4 5dr diesel hatchback|
|Price £15,006||Save £2,688|
|Suzuki SX4 1.6 SZ4 5dr hatchback|
|Price £8,888||Save £2,239|
|Suzuki SX4 1.6 SZ5 4X4 5dr hatchback|
|Price £13,569||Save £2,325|
|VIEW MORE DISCOUNT SX4 DEALS|
|For SX4 1.6 DDiS DAY TO DAY|
|OVERALL||6.9 OUT OF 10|
|Space / Versatility||6|
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