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Tested: Suzuki SX4

2010-06-30 10:49
Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Suzuki
Model SX4
Engine 2.0l petrol
Power 112 kW @ 6200 r/min
Torque 190Nm @ 4000 r/min
Transmission CVT with six-speed manual function
Top Speed 184km/h
Fuel Tank 50l
Fuel Consumption 7.6l/100km
Airbags Dual front and side
Front Suspension MacPherson strut and coil spring
Rear Suspension Torsion beam and coil spring
Service Intervals 15000 Km
Service Plan 72 months/90 000 km
Warranty 36 months
Price R 224 500

Sergio Davids

In a segment where every customer wants more for less, Suzuki hopes to refine its niche burrowing SX4 crossover with a recent facelift. The new SX4 features styling changes as well as the addition of an AWD model, but is it enough to take on Nissan’s Qashqai?

The SX4 is not as easy to pigeonhole as the Suzuki Swift; it is a small car, sure, but slightly larger than its cheeky sibling. So is it a compact city car or a soft-roader? Well, neither, but it manages to combine all the characteristics of a nippy city car and the space and capability of a larger MPV/SUV quite well.


While exterior styling changes will only be spotted by the keen observer, the SX4 sports a new grille and upgraded alloy wheels. The SX4 is a curious vehicle to look at, not that there is anything wrong with its styling; it is just a little different. Some of the cosmetic additions include front fog lights, roof rails, a rear spoiler and 16-inch alloy wheels with flared wheel arches. I liked the look of the original SX4 and the latest version gives it a sporty boost that really makes it stand out.

Behind the wheel

The SX4 couldn’t be simpler to drive. Responsive steering and a commanding view of the road ahead makes it perfect for city driving, while the high roofline allows for ample head room.

The 2.0l petrol engine delivers 112 kW at 6 200 r/min with a peak torque figure of 190 Nm at 4000 r/min. The engine is mated to a six-speed CVT automatic gearbox with an option of manual gear selections and paddles shifts for those who want to feel more in control.

I found the CVT gearbox had a tendency to hunt for gears in the automatic mode and there was a definite delay between gear selections . Using the paddle shifters worked rather well, but the engine still grumbled at speeds over 100km/h as if it wasn’t happy in either fifth or sixth gear. Also, to get around the delay in gear changes, I would momentarily take my foot off the accelerator to allow the gearbox to shift up or down timeously… Not really a problem, but one shouldn’t have to outthink the car.

The 2.0l engine is rather sprightly while, driving at speed, the SX4 presents little in terms of body roll and doesn’t feel as though it will tip over, no matter how hard you push it through corners.

The suspension is slightly too firm, which means you will feel the vehicle reverberate momentarily when driving over poorly-maintained roads. The flipside is that that the SX4 has a remarkably sporty character, as I discovered on some winding roads along Durbanville and negotiating the Du Toit’s Kloof Pass outside Paarl.

Steering the SX4 is a breeze, courtesy of the power steering, and with a tight turning circle you are able to pull off U-turns without a problem. The SX4 is well suited to navigating through congested city roadways or cruising along highways, while traveling at speeds over 100km/h revealed minor wind and tyre noise.


It does not seem that large from the outside (4135x1755x1605),  but it certainly doesn't feel as though you’re driving a small car, either. The inside of the SX4 is deceptively roomy and behind the wheel you’ll be treated to a large cabin with intuitively-placed controls.

The instrument panel is styled in a decidedly plastic look and feel. The instrument cluster features aluminum trim surrounds, and the large knobs for the ventilation system are simple and easy to use despite their ‘plasticky’ quality. 
I enjoyed the keyless entry system where the SX4, detecting the key fob is close by, allows the driver to unlock and start the car without removing the device from your pocket or handbag.


This unconventional SUV crossover is quite remarkable. It's easy to drive, exhibits good on-road manners, has a high driving position, and is ideal for urban driving. It’s not completely inept off-road either, though the AWD drive version is an option if you’re considering seriously tackling the rough stuff.

After driving the SX4 for just over a week I was genuinely surprised and impressed with its energetic attitude. It can hold its own on the open road, is fairly responsive, and can also be quite frugal (7.9l/100km combined cycle) if you don't push it too hard.

Were it not for the large amount plastics in the interior and the slightly finicky gearbox, it might have fared better against its rival Nissan Qashqai or perhaps even the Honda Jazz . The Qashqai has better interior trim and is a lot roomier, but the SX4 has pricing in its favour as it  R70 500 cheaper than its Nissan rival (Qashqai 2.0 CVT R295 000).
The SX4 may be slightly quirky and unconventional, but it works and definitely merits consideration if you're in need of an affordable and practical vehicle.

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