“Easy to drive and comfortable on rough roads, the tough looking Suzuki SX4 represents great value for money.”
The Suzuki SX4 is quite similar to the Swift hatch, except it's a jacked- up version with 4x4 styling. It was developed in conjunction with Fiat, but despite its looks, most versions of the SX4 are two-wheel drive only, with four-wheel drive reserved for the top-flight SZ5. The dashboard is well laid-out and build quality is impressive, as are comfort and luxury. There's a lot of space for front and rear passengers, but the boot is small. With generous standard equipment and low prices, the SX4 offers good value for money.
The 1.6-litre petrol engine needs to be revved quite hard to get the best from it, but the Suzuki drives decently enough. The 1.6 and 2.0-litre DDiS turbodiesel models are more responsive than the petrol version, and both offer strong efficiency. The steering and pedals are very light to use, so the SX4 is most at home in urban areas. Considering the car's height, body roll is minimal and the steering accurate – it's like a larger version of the Swift hatch.
The 1.6-litre petrol engine makes a bit of racket, particularly on the motorway, but the diesels are much quieter and far less coarse. There's very little road noise at speed, although the SX4's upright stance means that there is a bit of wind buffeting around the windscreen pillars. Comfort is generally impressive and the Suzuki's ride never feels rattled by potholes or speed bumps around town.
the SX4 gets front, side and curtain airbags, plus anti-lock brakes and brake force distribution. Stability control is only available on SZ4 models. Top-spec SZ5 versions get four-wheel drive, for slippery conditions. In pre-2009 Euro NCAP crash tests, the car got four stars for adult occupants, three stars for children and three for pedestrians; it's yet to be put through the latest tests. The SX4 hasn’t featured in Auto Express's annual Driver Power reliability surveys, but Suzuki finished 26th out of 30 manufacturers in this year's poll.
WITH the rear seats in place, the boot has a capacity of 270 litres, which isn’t particularly impressive. But when you fold them, this expands to an excellent 1,045 litres. Doing so is a simple process – you simply pull a cord and the seatback drops forwards into the base. All SX4s come with roof rails, which makes it easy to extend luggage capacity with the use of a roof box. Also useful are the big door pockets, which can hold drinks bottles.
Value for money
when you compare it with rivals like the Nissan Qashqai, the SX4 looks like a bargain. Standard equipment on SZ3 models includes electric windows all round, as well as air-conditioning, a CD stereo and multifunction steering wheel. Go for the SZ4 and you get alloy wheels, front foglamps and keyless entry. Top-spec SZ5 versions are equipped with four-wheel drive, plus privacy glass and a CD multichanger. No version of the SX4 holds on to its value especially well, though.
The 1.6-litre petrol SX4 returns 45.6mpg and emits 143g/km of CO2, which isn’t bad for such a tall car with a petrol engine. The 2.0-litre DDiS diesel promises 51.4mpg economy and 143g/km emissions, while the 1.6-litre DDiS is even more impressive, with 57.6mpg and 129g/km.