REVIEW DATE: 22 Sep 2010
Suzuki's SX-4 crossover gets a little more attitude in SZ-L guise. Jonathan Crouch reports.
Suzuki's SX4 has always been one of the most affordable ways to get a road-going vehicle with 4x4 overtones. But it hasn't been noticed by customers in the way that the importers would have liked. The special edition SZ-L model we look at here, with its trendy gunmetal-coloured roofrails, grille, wheels and skidplates, aims to change things a little..
Before we get into what makes this limited run model unique however, a bit more about the SX4 itself. Part supermini and part 4x4, this car was a 'crossover' long before most of us had pinned down what a crossover was. If you're still not sure, let's try and explain. A crossover has always been an amalgamation of two or more different types of vehicle and more recently, it's usage has settled down to refer mainly to models combining elements of conventional car and 4x4.
Since it became fashionable to derive SUVs as evil planet killers, the crossover idea has gained extra credence as a cuddlier, less offensive way to get the design features that made 4x4s so popular with town-dwelling families. This Suzuki is firmly from the smaller end of the scale when it comes to crossover vehicles but the Japanese brand is confident that its mix and match approach can persuade some motorists out of their superminis or larger family cars.
For a car a shade over four meters long and weighing another shade over one tonne, the SX4 isn't short on horsepower in entry-level form. The 1.6-litre petrol unit used in this SZ-L model has a meaty 118bhp with 156Nm of torque. Despite being the cheapest, this petrol version is also the fastest SX4 with a respectable 0-60mph sprint of 10.7s and a 115mph top speed. Suzuki have in recent times upgraded this engine by adding a different cylinder head and block, increased valve lift and a variable intake system which won't mean much to the man in the street but equates to lively and flexible performance out on the road.
"As a less obvious, more interesting alternative to the entry-level supermini you were considering, it might make sense.."
The high shape and elevated ride height don't lead you to expect much from the SX4 on the road but the driving experience is arguably its best feature. It feels much like a conventional supermini, with little of the pitching and lurching that can blight tall 4x4-style vehicles. The SX4 is also well capable on longer journeys where refinement is impressive and the ride not overly choppy.
The steering is accurate and well weighted, the car turning into corners neatly. The five-speed gearbox also has a good weight to it with a punchy, mechanical action and only a short throw required to slot into the next ratio home. The steering may be a touch heavy for some tastes when parking but it adds reassurance on the open road and in general, the little Suzuki is characterised by a nimble, responsive, fun feel.
As for the looks of this SZ-L model, well gunmetal is the theme here. It's a hue used on the roof rails, front grille, alloy wheels and front and rear skid plates. For the interior a new style Alcantara trim in light grey is included, plus a three spoke leather steering wheel with Gunmetal stitch detailing and six disc in-dash CD changer. Otherwise, it's all standard SX4, looking compact and well-proportioned with the 4x4 design elements adding extra interest.
Inside, the car follows Suzuki's simple, uncluttered cabin design theme and in many ways it's a refreshing change from the chintzy finishes and gimmicky design features piled into some of its rivals. It could also be construed as slightly dull. The controls are extremely easy to use with large, clearly marked dials and buttons. A recently redesigned control console for the air-conditioning system and a neat instrument cluster with a digital display at its heart add a touch of class. There isn't a huge amount of storage space for larger items but passenger accommodation is good with room for four adults, even when those in the front are on the tall side. The 270-litre boot isn't huge but its deep shape is handy for loading and unloading. Folding the 60:40 split back seats gives a 625-litre capacity.
SZ-L is based on the SZ4 grade and is available in two wheel drive format with 120PS 1.6-litre petrol engine and manual transmission only. It's priced at £13,145 (about £750 more than the version on which it's based), includes metallic paint and is available in two colours, Silky Silver Pearl and Cosmic Black. As with all SX4s, buyers can expect to find remote central locking, air-conditioning, a CD stereo, electric windows and a trip computer all present and correct. It makes this model's asking price look good value and competitive against the ordinary superminis that Suzuki's crossover is targeting.
Combined cycle fuel economy is 41.5mpg with CO2 emissions pegged at 165g/km. It's certainly no gas-guzzler. Insurance is group 6 and you can expect to get the usual 3 year or 60,000 mile warranty. Suzuki residual values are competitive with other mainstream brands.
The SX4 might be a crossover but it hasn't crossed over too far. You get some of the ground clearance, visibility and accessibility of a 4x4 but on the road, the drive is composed and even enjoyable. The SX4 from Suzuki was around before the practice of grafting 4x4 design features onto conventional cars really took off. Now that everyone's at it, winning sales is going to be tricky for the likable little crossover, but this SZ-L special edition version might help. As a less obvious, more interesting alternative to the entry-level supermini you were considering, it might make sense.
The results below show the top SX4 deals on buyacar
|Suzuki SX4 2.0 DDiS SZ5 4X4 5dr diesel hatchback|
|Price £13,855||Save £2,688|
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|Suzuki SX4 1.6 SZ5 4X4 5dr hatchback|
|Price £13,569||Save £2,325|
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|For SX4 SZ-L|
|OVERALL||7.0 OUT OF 10|
|Space / Versatility||7|
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