Suzuki SX4 LTD i-AWD 2013 Review

Suzuki SX4 LTD i-AWD 2013 Review

suzuki-sx4-fq

This top-of-the-line Suzuki SX4 brings with it switchable four-wheel drive that improves its versatility and matches its slightly raised stance. As a recreational vehicle you can strap a couple of mountain bikes on the (optional) roof rack and get fairly deep into the backwaters of New Zealand. It also makes it a viable second car option for rural residents and those who experience snow and ice frequently.

suzuki-sx4-rqThe SX4 can be switched between 2WD for better fuel economy, automatic all-wheel drive and locked diff for the super slippery workout. Apart from in those

slippery situations, there’s not enough power to trouble the CVT gearbox or the 205/60R16 tyres. The two-litre engine gives a respectable 112kW and 190Nm and enough urge for sensibly planned overtaking.

suzuki-sx4-sideOn a journey from Napier to Auckland I achieved 7.7l/100km. Suzuki quotes 8l/100km for the combined cycle and doesn’t give a figure for open road motoring, but it should be said that between Napier and Taupo the average was 8.7l/100km because of the hills and the need to overtake the scourge of the road: campervans. That means that between Taupo and Auckland the Suzuki would have been sitting around the 7l/100km mark with my cruise control set at around 100kph.

CVT gearboxes are designed to give better around-town fuel economy. You’re very aware of the CVT on long hilly journeys as the revs rise and stay there to maintain speed. The gears can be manually swapped using the paddles behind the steering wheel.

suzuki-sx4-bootThe boot features a flat false floor that hides a sizeable compartment underneath. Both the faux floor and the floor of the compartment are lined in carpet. There are useful small compartments on either side for items that might tip, like a wine bottle. The boot itself is not enormous and two people’s luggage will more than fill its 253-litre volume.

suzuki-sx4-f-insideThe dashboard is dominated by a large touchscreen media display that includes satellite navigation, vehicle parameters and settings, and audio control (which includes Bluetooth audio, SD card and direct USB input). The stereo quality is a little thin but the interface is simple to operate for all functions.

For a small(ish) car it felt sufficiently spacious to drive. I would rather not have the fold down armrests for driver and passenger seat and would replace them with a central binnacle for additional storage. I felt the driver’s seat wasn’t quite comfortable enough for an unbroken five-hour journey, although the driving position itself is excellent. Rear seat passenger legroom is adequate for shorter journeys.

suzuki-sx4-boot-screenThe only aspect of this car that was a real irritation was the cruise control. The actual speed (which you can see accurately using the sat nav’s GPS) varied by 8kph. That means that if I set it for, say 100kph, it would sometimes surge to above 105kph and then drop to around 97kph, depending on the road conditions. This was the typical scenario: the vehicle reaches an incline and slows several kph before the cruise control realises. The cruise control then gives it a lot of extra power but doesn’t react quick enough when the road levels out, leading to a large surge in speed. And we know where the police like to hang out on holiday weekends, right? Yep, at the end of passing lanes. This is far too much variance, especially when there’s a 4kph tolerance on a holiday weekend. The controls, which are located on the steering wheel, also don’t allow you to drop the speed, only increase it.

If you do need to scrub off the speed quickly there are disc brakes all around and in an emergency you’ve got Electronic Stability Programme, ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, and six airbags if it goes horribly wrong. The ANCAP driver safety rating is only four out of five stars which is a little below par by today’s standards.

The SX4 handles well enough, looks very tidy, is versatile and, with its black wheel arch trim, has as visual hint of off-road prowess. There are some compromises because of the price but the fact that Suzuki can create this car and offer it for only $31,990 is quite impressive.

Price: $31,990

Pros

  • Value for money
  • All-wheel drive options (including lockable differential)

Cons

  • Poor cruise control
  • Only a 4-star crash rating

Words and photos: Darren Cottingham

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