By Hugh Maguire
IT would seem nowadays that more and more manufacturers are collaborating in the production of cars in order to share research, development and build costs. I often wonder will we soon reach the point where there are no more pure motor brands left.
I mean look at Nissan and Renault and their joint ventures, and look at Toyota and the PSA group who produce Peugeot, and Citroen. The Toyota Aygo and Citoen C1 and Peugeot 107 are in real terms one in the same car. Suzuki are no different it would seam. A few years ago they produced a vehicle in collaboration with Fiat called the SX4, Fiat call theirs the Fiat Sedici.
Now the SX4 is not new but the 2011 version has been tweaked and so I spent some 400km behind the wheel to try it out. The next new thing we have to get to grips with is the marketing speak. They call cars like the SX4 a “crossover” vehicle. Now what’s a “crossover “ vehicle I hear you ask? Well if you believe all the sales hype it’s a car that does a bit of both worlds really. In the case of the Suzuki SX4 they claim it is a mid sized family hatch that crosses over into being a small lifestyle 4x4 as it has switchable four wheel drive.
There are three models available starting at €17,385 for the 1.5 GLX petrol 2WD, next up is the 1.6 GLX diesel 2WD for €20,250 and the subject of this review the 2.0 GLX iAWD. (Switchable four wheel drive version).
The GLX looks very well indeed with snazzy roof rails, smart alloy wheels and robust looking body mouldings that give it the look of a rugged little off roader.
Behind The Wheel
The cabin is generally pretty well finished with good build quality and good use of space. The instrument layout is clear and concise, and the thick rimmed multi-function steering wheel, in addition to the aluminium effect centre console trim adds to the sporty feel of the car.
The driving position is very good, and standard equipment is comprehensive with all models getting, twin airbags, side and curtain airbags, ABS with EBD, seatbelt pre-tensioners, Immobiliser, and 3-point belts for all seats. However the SX4 still only manages to achieve a four rather than five star NCAP crash safety rating.
On the comfort side there are front electric windows, electric mirrors, air conditioning, pollen filters, a good stereo/CD. There are also numerous storage areas, cup holders a neat ticket holder and 60/40 split rear seats. The GLX tested adds alloys, roof rails, rear electric windows, front fogs and automatic air con.
The 2.0 litre diesel engine is a really good performer and gives the SX4 a claimed top speed of about 170 km/h with the zero to 100km/h dash taking 11.5 seconds.
In real terms it feels much more lively than the stats would suggest and on many an occasion on the motorway I found it easily crept past the legal 120km/h limit without me noticing. It just feels so unstressed and refined it cruises at motorway speeds with the ease of a more powerful car.
On the economy side it impresses also burning just 6.4 litres per 100km over my 400 km road test.
Once again the Suzuki SX4 acquits itself very well indeed. On the better roads it is refined and offers about average levels of road and engine noise. On less well-surfaced roads it soaks up the bumps and jolts with ease and feels solid and well put together. The handling is surefooted whether on wet or dry roads and in general I must say this is quite nice to drive. The four wheel drive is simplicity itself. Simply use the switch to select 2WD, Auto 4WD, or 4WD mode. This car would be capable of mild off road work such as slippery fields, harbour slipways or the occasional rocky lane.
Inside it’s quite roomy offering enough room for four average sized adults but the boot is somewhat small, and would not take the luggage of those same four adults.
I don’t subscribe to the manufacturer’s marketing hype. “Crossover vehicle” may be their natty term but this car is really a stylish five-door hatch that looks like a small off roader. It does offer versatility, style and a good equipment package as standard, and I enjoyed driving it.
Frankly I can’t see even those few who will opt for the all-wheel drive version clambering around off-road in it. But if you put the marketing speak aside, this is a very attractive small car that will prove reliable, nice to drive and easy to live with. The 2.0 GLX iAWD costs €20,950 and comes with a full 3 year, 100,000km warranty.