• Strong performance; excellent visibility and rear-seat room; base model value; handles well
  • Cheap cabin plastics; small boot; ride comfort can be abrupt; noisy engine; value of high-spec models

OUR RATING
6 / 10



Suzuki SX4 Review
Suzuki SX4 Review
Suzuki SX4 Review

It could be said that the Suzuki SX4 was ahead of its time. After all, the quasi-hatchback, sub-compact SUV segment has only just started gaining popularity, and the SX4 that launched that concept in 2006 is now nearing the end of its production cycle – an all-new model is due this year.

On the upside this Corolla-sized Suzuki-on-stilts is now better value than ever and remains a quite likeable, rather unique small car.

The Suzuki SX4 front-wheel drive starts at $18,990, making it one of the cheapest small cars available. The 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine makes a healthy 112kW of power and 190Nm of torque at 4000rpm, sufficient to get the 1145kg, six-speed manual-equipped five-door to 100km/h in nine seconds.

The SX4 with optional all-wheel drive adds $3000 to the price, and an optional automatic continuously variable transmission (CVT) adds a further $2000. Although the Subaru Impreza also sends power to all four wheels in this class, only the Suzuki SX4 has a ‘lock’ switch for its all-wheel-drive system that sets power distribution at an even 50 per cent front/50 per cent rear for solid off-road traction. If you live near the Snowy Mountains, or frequent bush tracks and beach trails, then the $23,990 SX4 AWD CVT offers the best traction in the class and a decent 175mm ground clearance.

The base model SX4 offers only 16-inch steel wheels with hubcaps but does receive cruise control and a leather wrapped steering wheel (standard on all models).

Suzuki SX4 Review
Suzuki SX4 Review
Suzuki SX4 Review
Suzuki SX4 Review

Possibilities abound in the Suzuki SX4 range, however. If you don’t venture off road, for example, you could choose the front-wheel-drive version in SX4 S specification for the same money as a base model that drives all four wheels. It adds 16-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, climate control air conditioning and keyless start to the standard equipment list. We tested the flagship SX4 S AWD with CVT auto.

All SX4 models provide excellent all-round visibility, making parking a breeze even without rear parking sensor and reversing camera availability. The tall-boy proportions of the small Suzuki means that the rear bench is perched higher than the front seats, aiding under thigh support for back-seat riders because there is more room to drop their legs in the cabin.

The Suzuki SX4 is, however, also quite a stubby car, measuring just 4.15 metres long. Again, that’s great for tight inner-city parking, but it also affects boot capacity. Where most rivals provide 300-350 litres of volume, the Suzuki claims just 250 litres.

Hard cabin plastics, thin seats with budget cloth trim, and cheap-to-rotate switches betray the SX4’s seven-year vintage. Inside it feels functional and durable, but also lacks the sophistication of newer competitors, including the Impreza.

That lack of finesse extends to the way the Suzuki SX4 drives. It is more than competent, and actually quite fun to corner with enthusiasm, although its ride quality can be tetchy and occasionally abrupt. Hit a pothole on a country road and it will introduce itself to the cabin with a ‘thud’. Sometimes over really rough roads the SX4 will start to bounce and jolt its occupants, its suspension prioritising control of its body rather than soaking up nasty road surfaces. It’s quite the opposite of the overly soft, soggy Mitsubishi Lancer, being too tight, like a pogo stick.

Suzuki SX4 Review
Suzuki SX4 Review
Suzuki SX4 Review
Suzuki SX4 Review

Road noise, particularly on coarse chip surfaces, penetrates the SX4’s cabin more prominently compared with newer competitors. The steering is consistently light in its weighting but also a tad vacant on the centre position, with a noticeable delay between steering input and vehicle turn in.

The 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine offers plenty of enthusiasm and strong performance, but like the chassis, it doesn’t offer much in the way of refinement. It’s quite a noisy performer, and not particularly pleasant-sounding when revved. It offers decent grunt throughout the rev range, however, so it doesn’t require a thrashing to skirt the suburbs like some competitors do.

The CVT forms a largely effective partnership with the engine. Measured throttle applications are rewarded with low revs and smooth power transmission, and little of the ‘drone’ commonly associated with this style of gearbox.  More vigorous inputs when attempting to accelerate quickly or overtake are met with some hesitation, however, as the transmission’s pulley system gradually winds up to achieve engine revs that best match road speed without hurting fuel economy.

Compared with the front-wheel-drive base model, the all-wheel-drive base model we tested weighs 30kg more, and slurps 0.4 litres more unleaded per 100km of driving. That’s 8.0L/100km for the AWD with CVT.

Few competitors in the small car class start at under $20,000. The Holden Cruze is $19,490, while the Toyota Corolla and Nissan Pulsar ask $19,990. In base specification the $18,990 Suzuki SX4 offers a unique blend of abilities to be a worthwhile contender. While the up-spec S AWD tested here struggles with its value equation, and the SX4 largely lacks finesse and refinement overall, it is also a simple, spacious and honest small car with solid dynamics and decent performance.

Suzuki SX4 Review
Suzuki SX4 Review

With an all-new generation Suzuki SX4 arriving later this year, the current car presents a compelling value proposition in base form.


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SUZUKI SX4 BREAKDOWN

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  • $29896495

    I’ve always liked these, though the cabin and dash are looking a bit ordinary these days. It is slightly smaller than the cars you compare it to though.

    • Zaccy16

      i agree actually, when they come out i really liked it, i would rather one over a pulsar just for the extra character and handling, interior is a bit below rivals and the mazda 3 is a better allround package, but with a manual its not a bad car at all, just abit dated

  • F1orce

    4×4 is interesting, don’t know many cars that compete with Corolla that have such drive

  • Doctor

    I test dove a FWD CVT some time ago and was impressed with the mechanical package. I’m waiting for the new model – hoping it’ll be a good runabout to replace a soon to be 20yo Liberty.

    • Hung Low

      Pity that the larger and heavier replacement will have a smaller 1.6 petrol but as a bonus a diesel will be available.

  • John

    Cruise control is standard on all models, from September 2012.

    I bought one of these last year – it’s a bit of mixed bag. The engine is quite powerful, but you need to be in the right gear and have at least 3000 revs on board.

    Tyre noise? Much less than a Lancer. Handling? Quite good, but it has definite limits. Economy – quite good.

    Cabin and boot space are quite poor, but for $18,990 drive away (2wd base model) it is quite a lot of car for the money. At this stage, buy anything other than the base model with care – it won’t be a value proposition.

    • greg

      That’s what she said

  • Galaxy

    Unless you NEED locking AWD…. move on nothing to see here.

    • Hung Low

      It’s bound to get further in the rough than the Tiguan, CX5 and CRV and more realistic fuel consumption to boot

      • BeeJay

        Bollocks, Hung Low. You’ve never driven a 2.0 TDI Tiguan have U?

  • DAVIDZ

    And you can buy it clones as a FIAT, wekk in Europe at least….

  • Karl Sass

    Interesting that you note the visibility as a positive. My neighbour brought one of these and sold it after only 6 months. She said the vision around the A pillar(s) was terrible and it caused a few close calls.  Probably different for each person, but the forward visibility looks okay from the photos?

    • Hung Low

      The A pillar visibility has always been the bane of these cars even with the little sight window, but no complaints from the previous model Corolla crowd. Personally I found it fine with the SX4.

      • Karl Sass

        I think personal preference, height etc. plays a big role. A colleague and I drove a company VE interstate. Despite being known for difficulty seeing around the A pillars, I had no issues. Although my colleague hated it, he nearly ploughed down half the pedestrians in the main street of Mildura.

    • Gan Tan

      Did your neighbour not even bother to test drive this car?

      I have an SX4 AWD S and visibility is excellent from all angles.

      • Karl Sass

        I’m not sure if she test drove, although I guess she may have missed it. She said the vision in other directions was good, just around the A pillars. She isn’t very tall, so maybe sitting closer to the steering wheel gave a different perspective?

  • horsie

    I have a 2008 SX4 AWD  that i brought new. I really love it, but i have to agree that those A pillars are very difficult to get used to . You really need to be very careful around pedestrians as you have a massive blind spot caused by those A pillars. When making a sharp turn, I have to actually lean forward to see around the corner. 
    I am totally used to this now of course and I really enjoy the on road dynamics. 

  • Gus

    So, this car has a complete multimedia kit – that was not even mentioned in the review – with satellite navigation, touch screen, full iPod integration and voice command for low $20k, and you say it “struggles with its value equation”. Are you serious?

    • Hung Low

      When it was reviewed in 2010 with paddle shifts it also failed a mention. If this was a Golf we would be informed of the tactile finishes of the paddle shifters

    • not well hung

      dont forget the proximity key. Also no mention of the facelift this received for 2013 with new seat fabrics, redesigned grill and front bumper, side indicators moved to the mirrors etc.

  • Sturmgewehr

    1250kg, AWD lock, 125hp per ton. best value for money/most capable soft roader bar none. ive moved a sofa in one of these dont tell me theyre short on space

    • John

       With the back seats completely removed?

      In other markets the SX4 has rear seats that tumble forward, to give a much deeper boot space. That would be much better than the current arrangement, where the rear seats merely fold forward onto the rear seat squabs.

      I wish manufacturers would take a good look at the way Honda’s magic seats work in the Jazz (and Civic hatch).

  • Norm

    A pity Suzuki didn’t expand on this concept more with the new model rather than follow the crowd.

  • John

    My wife has had an SX4 for 18 months & goes, stops & handles quite well for it’s price range. The seats are good, there is plenty of legroom both front & back & it doesn’t use much fuel. It won’t get your pulse racing though…

  • Sardar Moammad Amiri

    I want the right hand drive accordance the Afgsnistan Rules. How can get it in Afghanistan ?

  • Sandi

    My SX4 is 4 years old now & I’ve been quite pleased with it. The negatives are poor visibility as stated by others & small boot. But the worst feature is the small fuel tank 40 L and average 11.2 km per Litre 98 octane fuel. I expected better.

  • Julie

    I own one of these little beauty’s !! I’m wondering can it tow a small caravan ??

Suzuki Sx4 Specs

CROSSOVER AWD : 2.0L MULTI POINT F/INJ - CONTINUOUS VARIABLE - UNLEADED PETROL - 5D HATCHBACK
Car Details
Make
SUZUKI
Model
SX4
Variant
CROSSOVER AWD
Series
GY
Year
2013
Body Type
5D HATCHBACK
Seats
5
Engine Specifications
Engine Type
MULTI POINT F/INJ
Engine Size
2.0L
Cylinders
INLINE 4
Max. Torque
190Nm @  4000rpm
Max. Power
112kW @  6200rpm
Pwr:Wgt Ratio
87.2W/kg
Bore & Stroke
84x90mm
Compression Ratio
10.2
Valve Gear
VARIABLE DOUBLE OVERHEAD CAM
Drivetrain Specifications
Transmission
CONTINUOUS VARIABLE
Drive Type
ALL WHEEL DRIVE
Final Drive Ratio
5.798
Fuel Specifications
Fuel Type
UNLEADED PETROL
Fuel Tank Capacity
45
Fuel Consumption (Combined)
8L / 100km
Weight & Measurement
Kerb Weight
1285
Gross Vehicle Weight
Not Provided
Height
1605mm
Length
4135mm
Width
1755mm
Ground Clearance
175mm
Towing Capacity
Brake:1200  Unbrake:400
Steering & Suspension
Steering Type
RACK & PINION - POWER ASSISTED
Turning Circle
10
Front Rim Size
6x16
Rear Rim Size
6x16
Front Tyres
205/60 R16
Rear Tyres
205/60 R16
Wheel Base
2500
Front Track
1500
Rear Track
1495
Front Brakes
DISC - VENTILATED
Rear Brakes
DISC
Standard Features
Comfort
Air Conditioning
Control & Handling
Electronic Brake Force Distribution, Electronic Stability Program, Traction Control System
Driver
Cruise Control, Power Steering, Trip Computer
Entertainment
Radio CD with 8 Speakers
Interior
Cloth Trim, Power Windows
Safety
Dual Airbag Package, Anti-lock Braking, Head Airbags, Seatbelts - Pre-tensioners Front Seats, Side Front Air Bags
Security
Central Locking Remote Control, Engine Immobiliser
Optional Features
Exterior
Metallic Paint
Other
Service Interval
6 months /  10,000 kms
Warranty
36 months /  100,000 kms
VIN Plate Location
9-H-13
Country of Origin
JAPAN