REVIEW DATE: 22 May 2009
Suzuki's SX4 deserves more attention than it gets in 1.6 DDiS form. Steve Walker reports.
The SX4 from Suzuki is a car that's easy to overlook amid the cut and thrust of the car market. It follows then that should one ever manage to fix your gaze and hold your attention, you probably won't be expecting too much. It looks like yet another small car with 4x4 pretensions and for the most part, it is but this little Suzuki has some surprises up its sleeves. Not least in the 1.6-litre DDiS diesel form we examine here.
Developed by Suzuki in combination with Fiat, which got its own Sedici out of the arrangement, the SX4 is about the size of a supermini but adds in some modest 4x4 styling cues. Suzuki has a great record with 4x4s and with small cars so the premise makes sense and with a compact diesel engine installed, a neat compromise between low end grunt and economy should make the SX4 well suited to urban motoring. That's the theory anyway.
The 1.6-litre DDiS diesel engine comes only with the SX4's front-wheel-drive transmission so it would probably be wise for owners to put any notions of striking out into the great unknown behind them at this stage. The engine is a common-rail diesel with 89bhp to its name. That's not a lot of power but the driver is compensated by 214Nm of torque that's produced at 1,750rpm. It makes the SX4 punchy, if not outright fast, up to the 30-40mph cruising speeds that so often represent the best case scenario in our congested urban areas. The 0-60mph increment takes 12.2s and there's a 109mph top speed so the SX4 is far from out of its depth on the open road.
"Suzuki's SX4 isn't an obvious choice but it is a rewarding one"
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 reassuringly mechanical action with only a short throw required to slot into the next ratio and it helps give the SX4 a nimble, responsive feel. The higher ride height and beefy suspension might not serve you too well off-road without four-wheel drive but kerb stones and speed humps are dispatched with aplomb.
As we've already indicated, visually the SX4 is nothing to write home about. It lacks the overt 4x4 styling cues that some of its contemporaries lay on so thick. There are roof rails and plastic cladding for the sills and wheelarches but the SX4 looks more like a high riding supermini than a thoroughbred off-roader. The interior is similarly low key but the uncluttered dash with its chunky controls works very well. The various functions for the audio and ventilation systems are extremely simple to operate and there's a tough feel to the plastics and the build quality that inspires confidence. The steering column doesn't adjust for reach which may be a barrier to some people getting comfy but the seats are firm and supportive with plenty of adjustment potential.
Space inside the cabin is reasonably generous. There's no shortage of headroom and plenty of space for a couple of adults to squeeze in to the rear seats. Taking three in the back would be more of a problem unless they were younger children. The boot is only 270-litres in capacity which isn't huge and you have to drop items down over the large loading lip but the rear seats can be folded and tumbled forward with a simple pull of a chord to increase capacity.
The 1.6 DDiS engine is offered in SZ4 trim which is quite plush considering the prices Suzuki is offering the SX4 at. 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. With no automatic gearbox, 4x4 transmission or other trim levels offered with this engine, customers have few choices at their disposal.
Fuel economy benefits from the absence of weighty 4x4 mechanicals in the 1.6 DDiS model and while owners will struggle to replicate the 53.3mpg that the car returns on the official combined cycle, returns in the high 40s will not be unheard of. CO2 emissions of 139g/km also make the SX4 very reasonable to tax.
A retained value of 46 per cent after three years is a very strong return on your original investment in this class and that's what you'll see with the entry-level SX4 1.6 petrol. The 1.6-litre diesel SX4 is a very good car and the price premium over its counterpart isn't too great. The larger diesel looks a little harder to justify on cost grounds with its higher asking price and inferior economy.
Treading the no man's land between conventional superminis and the smallest 4x4s, Suzuki's SX4 isn't an obvious choice but it is a rewarding one. The unobtrusive little Suzuki won't be popular with those looking to make a big fashion statement but it's very easy to like for its solidity, composed handling and practicality.
The car drives very well with its 1.6-litre DDiS powerplant proving perfectly adequate around town and its raised suspension serving up a comfortable ride. There's no off-road capability to speak of with this engine not being offered with the 4x4 mechanicals but that's unlikely to bother many customers in this market sector.
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 £8,500||Save £2,239|
|Suzuki SX4 1.6 SZ4 5dr Auto hatchback|
|Price £12,355||Save £2,439|
|Suzuki SX4 1.6 SZ5 4X4 5dr hatchback|
|Price £13,569||Save £2,325|
|VIEW MORE DISCOUNT SX4 DEALS|
|For SX4 1.6 DDiS|
|OVERALL||6.9 OUT OF 10|
|Space / Versatility||6|
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