2010 Suzuki SX4 First Steer Review
Bundled in a segment where every man and his dog wants more for less, Suzuki has further refined its niche burrowing SX4 Hatch and SX4 Sedan.
While exterior styling changes will only be spotted by the keen observer, they are limited to a new grille and different alloy wheels. On the other hand, the interior has undergone significant changes, including revision to the climate control cluster, trip computer and audio functions.
The revised Suzuki SX4 range launches with three models and two drivetrains.
The entry level SX4 Hatch features front-wheel-drive and a six-speed manual gearbox, with pricing starting at $20,490. The entry level SX4 still features the rugged looks of its all-wheel-drive sibling, making it a viable option for punters after a city dwelling vehicle with the advantage of added ground clearance.
At the helm of the SX4, a commanding driving position ensures easy driving with excellent visibility out the front and rear of the vehicle. The high roofline features masses of head room, giving taller passengers ample accommodation.
If the slick shifting, smooth six-speed manual doesn’t tickle your fancy, Suzuki also offers a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) for an additional $2,000. Where the manual gearbox needs to be in the right rev band to extract the most out of the SX4, the CVT almost instantaneously jumps into action at the drop of the throttle.
While the engine sounds a bit thrashy at high revs, the CVT is the best thing that could have happened to the SX4. In addition to improved feel behind the wheel, Suzuki has managed to slash fuel consumption figures – being one of the customer’s main complaints with the outgoing model.
The six-speed manual consumes 11 percent less than the outgoing model at 7.3L/100km, while the CVT trumps the outgoing automatic by 16 percent, coming down to 7.6L/100km. In addition to fuel consumption savings, power has increased five percent to 112kW and torque by three percent to 190Nm.
The all-wheel-drive with six-speed manual starts from $23,490, while the front-wheel-drive sedan is only available in S trim, starting at $23,990 for the six-speed manual, with the CVT a $2,000 premium.
In addition to fuel consumption complaints, owners of the previous generation vehicle were also critical of the lack of safety features. Suzuki has addressed concerns by implementing Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and making it standard across the range. In addition to ESC, each model comes with six airbags (except the base front-wheel-drive hatch).
Rear seat leg room is slightly cramped in the hatch, but surprisingly spacious in the sedan. While the sedan may not feature the hatch’s 175mm ground clearance, it does feature a Holden Commodore beating 515 litres luggage capacity.
To demonstrate the all-paw SX4’s ability off-road, Suzuki set up a mild off-road loop that included a muddy hill climb and rutted mogul. The hill climb was tackled in the ‘auto’ mode. The ‘auto’ mode remains in front-wheel-drive mode until the vehicle senses traction loss. From there, the centre differential can send up to 50% of torque to the rear wheels, helping in situations where traction is at a premium.
Surprisingly, the SX4 walked up the muddy hill with relative ease. Although the SX4 is no Toyota Landcruiser off-road, it goes to show that it’s as capable as prospective owners would expect it to be.
The rutted mogul went on to show how the added ground clearance of the hatch helped during situations such as grade variations.
The on-road portion of the loop highlighted the tight chassis the SX4 is built on. The weighed steering adds feel through corners and communicates all aspects of the road surface to the driver. Tremendous grip and the ability to grab the car by the scruff of the neck make it a pleasure to drive on easy going roads and tight, twisty stretches of road.
During the press conference, Suzuki was quizzed about the availability of a diesel engine. While there is currently a diesel available in Europe, it isn’t available to Suzuki in Australia. General Manager of Suzuki Australia, Tony Devers, told CarAdvice, “if it comes up, we’ll evaluate it”, and went on to support the idea of a diesel in the SX4.
Suzuki hopes to sell around 500 SX4s, up from the 250-280 averaged during the previous generation’s tenure. Exceptional pricing, impressive ability both on and off-road, along with a raft of safety features will ensure the SX4 sells well in Australia.
If you have been hesitant to sample the Suzuki brand, there is no better time to give it a shot. If the SX4 revision is anything to go by, Suzuki has a long and illustrious future ahead of it.