Suzuki: 2014 SX4 S Cross 1.6 LTD 2WD review

March 17th, 2014 by Darren Cottingham

There are no pretentions when you get a Suzuki. You know what you’re getting yourself into as you can be pretty sure you’re going to drive a car that provides a large amount of bang for your buck. Of course, this comes with compromises, but as today’s cars are a hundred thousand times better than those of twenty years ago, the kinds of things we might envy are nice-to-haves rather than essential features.

suzuki-sx4-s-cross-2014-sideAs you walk towards the SX4 S Cross it’s more Vitara than Swift in the nose. The styling is a little nose-heavy and it looks better in the flesh than in photos. There’s a strong line that starts at the base of the A pillars, flows down across the top of the lights and into the grille. The grille is bisected by the bumper and continues underneath in grey with strong lateral lines. The two-tone paint finish works well, giving the SX4 S Cross a slightly elevated look. Continue reading “Suzuki: 2014 SX4 S Cross 1.6 LTD 2WD review” »

Suzuki SX4 LTD i-AWD 2013 Review

April 3rd, 2013 by darren

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 Continue reading “Suzuki SX4 LTD i-AWD 2013 Review” »

Base model Suzuki SX4 gets dressed up for NZ market

September 21st, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The entry model Suzuki SX4 GLX Sporthatch has been given some body enhancements to boost appeal for this small crossover.

The 2.0-litre SX4 Sporthatch inherits the exterior detailing previously only fitted to the four-wheel-drive GLX and LTD i-AWD version. Included in the upgrade are black wheel arch extensions, black under-body protection mouldings front and rear, and sports roof rails. Ground clearance has also been increased from 160 mm to 175 mm.

Eight versions of the SX4 are available in total, with the latest improvements focused on the entry-level GLX variant.

Pricing has been adjusted with a $500 increase the 6-speed manual transmission model now retails at $25,990, and the CVT automatic is listed at $27,500.

Standard equipment includes air conditioning, remote control door locking with answer back, steering wheel audio controls with back-lighting and driver’s seat height adjustment. There are body-coloured bumpers and the electrically adjustable door mirrors are also colour-keyed to the bodywork. Continue reading “Base model Suzuki SX4 gets dressed up for NZ market” »

Suzuki SX4 Ltd Sporthatch 2010 Review

June 11th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

When most people think of a compact hatchback made by Suzuki it’s one model they usually have in mind — the Swift. But the Suzuki range has another small hatch within its ranks named the SX4. Riding higher than the Swift and with a larger engine the crossover-inspired SX4 hasn’t been able to match the Swift’s popularity since it was first introduced back in 2007. Back then, some claimed the SX4 was too thirsty for a small car and commented on the absence of a stability control system. Now for 2010, the SX4 is fighting back with a revised model range that features a CVT transmission, improved economy and better safety credentials. Car and SUV spent a week in the facelifted SX4 to see if it’s ready to emerge from behind its Swift sibling’s sizable shadow.

So what’s new on the 2010 model? Well, plenty, just not much in terms of exterior sheet metal. Some subtle tweaks feature up front in a new grille design and on our tested Ltd-spec model, sharp 17-inch alloys fill the guards. Elsewhere it’s a smart-looking hatchback with a tall but progressive stance, raked back headlights and a distinctive wrap-around rear windshield. The Ltd Sporthatch receives extras like front fog lamps and a sports-styled skirting kit with high mounted rear spoiler. Overall, the SX4’s looks aren’t exactly groundbreaking and while slightly generic, do still carry a broad modern appeal.

Continue reading “Suzuki SX4 Ltd Sporthatch 2010 Review” »

Suzuki ready for centennial celebrations

July 28th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Suzuki Centennial 3

It seems that 1909 was a busy year for automotive start-up companies with both Audi and Bugatti planning their centenary celebrations this year and so is Japanese carmaker Suzuki.

The history of Suzuki’s first 100 years is an interesting rags-to-riches story, beginning with a young loom-maker from Hamamatsu, Japan, named Michio Suzuki wanting to tackle the problem of producing fabrics with both vertical and horizontal stripes. From this distant starting point sprung the Suzuki Loom Company, which after some time began producing small engines to adapt bicycles into motorised vehicles in 1952.

A few years after that, Suzuki’s first automobile, the Suzilight, hit the market with a 360cc two-stroke engine and some clever innovations like front-wheel-drive and four-wheel independent suspension. By 1989, Suzuki was producing over 10 million cars per year through its own factories and global partnerships.

Today, Suzuki is a recognized global leader in small cars and motorcycles, with its SX4 and Swift being highly competitive vehicles in their segments.

According to Suzuki, the future will bring environmentally friendly technology, including the debuts of stop/start and variable valve timing at the next Geneva Motor Show. Looking further into the future hydrogen fuel cell technology is also on the way.

Suzuki testing fuel cell technology in SX4

July 14th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

One of the rising stars in the New Zealand new car market is being tested in an advanced and highly efficient form.

The Suzuki SX4-FCV (fuel cell vehicle) is about to undergo testing on Japanese roads after being shown at the recent G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit conference.

Suzuki has previously built three fuel cell vehicles since it began work on this technology seven years ago, and says the SX4 is the best performing FCV car the company has developed. The experimental SX4-FCV has received approval from Japan’s Ministry of Land and Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism for testing on public roads.

Suzuki is developing fuel cell vehicles in partnership with General Motors, and tested an MR Wagon-FCV and Wagon R-FCV in 2003 and a second MR Wagon-FCV in 2004.

The SX4-FCV five-door hatchback uses a GM-made high performance fuel cell, a Suzuki-developed 70 MPa (10,000 psi) compressed hydrogen tank and a light, compact capacitor.
This recovers energy during braking application and uses it to reduce load consumption during acceleration.

Suzuki Motor Corporation is seen as a dark horse in fuel cell technology by developing vehicles on several different fronts to compete with large motor manufacturers.

The experimental SX4-FCV has a driving range of 250 kilometres and a top speed of 150 km/h.

Suzuki SX4 Sedan 2008 Review

April 16th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Suzuki SX4 Sedan 2008 rq

This is the third time I’ve had a Suzuki and had to do a long journey with passengers. This time it was to Leigh for a trip to Little Barrier Island. I’m not an avid ornithologist, but I am partial to birds.

What I’m not partial to, though, is choppy water and a small boat. Unfortunately that’s exactly what was in store, and it was a radical departure from the benign, cruise control-enhanced ride the Suzuki SX4 Sedan had afforded us on the 80-minute drive from Auckland. Enduring the turbulent trip I needed something to take my mind off the impending nausea. Unfortunately I couldn’t think of enough to say about the SX4 to last the whole journey.

As a car it ticks all the boxes for a sensible and fairly bland vehicle for fleet use, or a small family/couple that want a new mid-sized car on a budget.

The styling is more likely to appeal to the older generation compared to its hatchback sibling, which looks more stylish. We reviewed the SX4 Sporthatch in 2007 and we found it to be quite a capable car. The addition of a boot and the inclusion of narrower tyres and smaller hubs have changed the SX4’s driving dynamics, though. It doesn’t handle as well, suffering slightly more understeer and more noticeable tyre sidewall flex. The Sedan rolls on 195/65R15 tyres with 15-inch wheels compared to the Sporthatch’s 205/60R16 with 16-inch wheels.

Sporting a willing 107kW 2-litre engine with 184Nm of torque, the four-door Suzuki is fairly frugal for a two-litre (we averaged 8.8l/100km), but also has enough power for most motoring requirements. The five-speed manual gearbox has a positive action, snicking into place easily. Its throw is a good length, and the ratios suit the engine’s power and torque, with only steep hills and tubby passengers thwarting acceleration attempts.

The Sedan is not as tall coming in at 1545mm against the Sporthatch’s 1630. This doesn’t seem to affect headroom or getting in/out of the car. It is 25mm wider, though, and 35kg lighter (kerb weight).

I’d never seen so many kereru in one place before going to Little Barrier, but I could have fitted an entire flock of the chubby pigeons in the boot of the SX4. It is the SX4’s strongest point as it’s bigger than a Ford Falcon’s boot at 515 litres. It’s made more useful with split folding rear seats that allow for longer loads. The rear legroom is mildly compromised by the large boot, though.

Interior appointments are in keeping with a car in this price bracket — climate control air conditioning, eight-speaker MP3-compatible stereo with steering wheel controls, pollen filter, and leather wheel — as are the safety features (ABS, EBD, six airbags, brake and clutch pedal decoupling, and seatbelt pretensioners).

On a day-to-day basis (assuming you’re happy with the exterior styling which we think looks a little ugly and dated from the side), the only irritating thing about the SX4 is the keyless entry and start feature (which, incidentally, Phil Clark liked when he drove the SX4 Sporthatch, proving that one of us is wrong). It’s one of those one-touch, leave it in your pocket jobbies which means that the right doors are never open unless you are standing nearby or have pressed the unlock button twice. I’ve had these types of keys before, but they’ve never been so obstructive.

So, what have we got then with the SX4 sedan? According to Suzuki it’s slightly quieter than the Sporthatch because of the boot, and it will appeal to fleet buyers because the sedan boot can hide items out of the sight of would-be thieves. Dynamically, it’s not quite as good as the Sporthatch, but it’s still fun. The great thing about the cheaper Suzukis is that you can easily and safely explore the limits of them — something I thought was great about the Jimny. This makes them a perfect choice for learner drivers, and a reasonable amount of fun on the twisting blacktop. And the price – at $24,500 – is just a little barrier to ownership.

Click through to the next page for full specs of the Suzuki SX4 Sedan

Price: from $24,500 (manual; $25,990 automatic)

What we like

  • Practical
  • Easy to drive
  • Price
  • Manual gearbox is good

What we don’t like

  • Key is annoying — I just want the car to be unlocked or locked, not half and half
  • Rear legroom compromised by large boot (but still fine for kids…the legroom, not the boot)
  • Ugly from some angles

Words Darren Cottingham, photos Roelien Du Plessis

COMFORT
Power steering O
Electric windows O
Vertically adjustable tilt steering wheel O
Remote control door locking with answer back (including tailgate) O
Keyless entry with keyless start system O
Climate control air conditioning O
Heater and pollen filter O
Audio – Tuner/CD/MP3/WMA stereo with eight speakers O
Steering wheel audio controls O
Cruise control O
INSTRUMENT PANEL
Tachometer O
Illuminated instrument panel with dimmer O
Digital clock O
Outside temperature gauge O
Fuel consumption gauge O
Lights-off / key reminder O
Door-ajar warning lamp O
Fuel warning indicator O
Driver’s seatbelt warning lamp O
INTERIOR
Cabin lights: front map; 3 position centre cabin; and 2 position luggage O
Sun visors x 2 (with ticket holder & vanity mirror) O
Day/night rear view mirror O
Cup holders Front: 4 / Rear : 3 O
Leather-bound steering wheel O
Cloth seat material / door trims O
Front seats: Driver’s footrest (AT only); lever-type seat height adjuster (driver’s side); under-seat tray (front passenger’s side); and seatback pocket (passenger’s side) O
Rear Seats: 60:40 split folding; and adjustable head restraints x 3 O
Assist grips 4
Front door storage pockets / arm rests O
12v accessory socket O
Remote fuel lid opener O
EXTERIOR
Body Kit: Front lower spoiler; lower side mouldings; and rear lower spoiler O
Multi-reflect halogen headlamps O
Front fog lamps O
Green tinted windows O
Outside door mirrors: Body-coloured; and electrically adjustable (manually flat fold type) O
Windscreen wipers: Front – 2-speed variable intermittent and washer O
Rear window demister O
Body-coloured front and rear bumpers / door handles O
195/65R15 tyres with aluminium alloy wheels O
SAFETY & SECURITY
ABS with EBD and brake assist O
SRS dual front airbags O
Driver and passenger side airbags O
Front and rear curtain airbags O
Side impact beams O
Collapsible steering column O
Brake and clutch decoupling mechanism O
Front ELR seatbelts with pre-tensioners and force limiters O
Rear 3-point ELR seatbelts x 3 O
ISO FIX child seat anchorages x 2 O
Child seat tether anchorages x 3 O
Child-proof rear door locks O
Engine security immobiliser O
Driver’s door security unlock O
DIMENSIONS
Overall length mm 4510
Overall width mm 1730
Overall height mm 1545
Wheelbase mm 2500
Track Front mm 1500
Track Rear mm 1495
Ground Clearance mm 165
Minimum turning radius m 5.3
WEIGHTS
Curb weight kg 1215
Gross vehicle weight kg 1675
ENGINE
Type J20A
Cylinders 4
Number of valves 16
Displacement cc 1995
Bore X stroke 84.0 x 90.0
Compression ratio 9.5 : 1
Maximum Output (EEC net) Kw/rpm 107/5800
Maximum Torque (EEC net) Nm/rpm 184/3500
Fuel distribution Multipoint injection
TRANSMISSION
Drive System 2WD – Front wheel drive
Type 5 speed Manual / 4 stage Automatic
CHASSIS
Steering Power assisted rack and pinion
Suspension Front MacPherson strut & coil spring
Rear Torsion beam
Brakes Front Ventilated disc
Rear Drum
Tyres 195/65 R15
CAPACITY
Seating persons 5
Luggage capacity litres 515
Fuel tank litres 50

Suzuki SX4 Ltd 2007 Review

December 11th, 2007 by Darren Cottingham

Suzuki SX4 2007 fq

Driving and reviewing the Swift’s bigger brother, the SX4, was going to be a piece of cake I thought. Anything that’s larger and more ungainly than the amazing Swift was of course going to be rubbish. Easy, job done, nothing new learned I thought. Unfortunately I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Okay, so it’s got the same cute Italian-penned good looks as its sibling, but tries to look a tad more mature, courtesy of a bit more overhang front and rear. Looking at the plunging door line, oversized door mirrors and a few other design aspects it could be trying a bit too hard, like a schoolboy’s first attempts at a moustache to impress the girls in his class.

So it’s a bit of a looker but what’s it like to punt around? Well, in all honesty it left me completely dazed and stunned, like I had just been visited by the resident schoolyard bully. It wasn’t so much of ‘bashing’ as more of a severe ‘telling off’ though.

The subject of the lesson I had just been taught? Oh yes, it was a combination of advanced Physics, Economics and Mathematics, delivered forcibly and simultaneously whilst being strapped (or belted) into a chair. As I can’t multi-task too well, being male, it did make a bit of a mess of my brain. I always hated those particular subjects as well.

In order to try and explain I will start with the Economics. What you get for your pocket money is impressive. In its class, its feature set is impressive. This model boasts additional side impact curtain airbags, leather-trimmed steering wheel with cruise controls, bodykit, keyless entry, alloys and (for your listening pleasure) more speakers than most of the immediate competitors. The interior is nicely laid out, and the dash is easy to read and use. That’s an ‘A+’ then.

What about the numbers then? Well you can drive away in this SX4 Ltd from just $24,500. You get a fuel injected 16v 2.0 twin-cam engine, delivering 107Kw at 5,870rpm and 189Nm or torque at just 3,500 rpm. 0-100kph doesn’t take too long and expect around 11 litres/100km. Ground clearance is a heady 175mm+ (more on the 4WD version) and even with a decent 600mm seat height there is still ample headroom for 6 footers. Another ‘A+’.

Into the Physics department now. Unfortunately the steering feel is a bit over-assisted and also weighted too heavily in slow corners. The brakes lack some feel but manage the job well, being ventilated, however it takes some adjustment and practice to get it right. The driving lesson as a whole is well mannered with the chassis working well on the limit, under-steering slightly and with a compliant rear end that tucks in neatly as required. Strangely for a sweet 16v engine it sounds a bit on the rough side; well the Music lesson is in next classroom along. Hmm, a ‘B-’.

Overall, the lesson the SX4 teaches us is about ‘bang for your buck’. Less (money) is more (value) on this occasion, and a new benchmark has been set for the competitors. Final mark is an ‘A-’ then.

What we like:

  • Looks
  • Value for money
  • Visibility
  • Equipment
  • Keyless entry
  • Chassis

What we don’t like:

  • Feel of the steering and brakes
  • Pitch on acceleration/braking
  • Seat trim/comfort
  • Parking — judging bonnet length

Words Phil Clark, photos Darren Cottingham