Suzuki SX4 2.0 DDiS iAWD (2011)
Our Rating 3.5 / 5
Look for them and you'll find plenty Suzuki SX4s on the road - now we know why.
When: August 2011
Occasion: Irish test drive
Given how ridiculously successful the crossover genre has become, it's surprising to discover that one of the first of the breed were the Suzuki SX4 /Fiat Sedici twins. The former continues to be a real success for Suzuki in Ireland, despite relative anonymity since it was launched in 2007. Here's the latest 4x4 diesel manual version.
Inside & Out: 3/5
Suzuki may refer to the SX4 as a crossover, but it looks more like a supermini with a little more ground clearance, some roof bars and wheelarch extensions. That's if you specify those of course - it looks better with them and in a bright colour. It's an attractive enough design in an unassuming, inoffensive way.
It's much the same story inside, though in comparison to more modern rivals the plastics used are hard and brittle to the touch. Thankfully the switchgear is tactile enough and there is a feeling of sturdiness to the car. The seats are comfortable too, with loads of headroom in particular, though the boot is on the small side.
Engine & Transmission: 4/5
The four-wheel drive system has three settings: 2wd, 4x4 auto or 4x4 locked. The latter may be handy later in the year if we get more snow, but the 4x4 auto is the one to go for the rest of the time. It ensures that power is sent only to the front wheels most of the time, until slip is detected, at which time the rear wheels help out. It's all the four-wheel drive most people will ever need. The gearbox itself moves with a satisfying solidity and the ratios are well spaced.
Where the powertrain loses marks is on refinement. The engine, while impressively powerful and frugal, is noticeably noisy. That's whether you're cruising, stopped at traffic or ambling along. Still, its ample torque should make light work of towing the 1.2 tonnes it's rated to.
Ride & Handling: 3.5/5
At first nothing stood out for us about the way the SX4 drives, which probably will suit most buyers. On closer scrutiny the ride quality is a little patchy at low speed, though it works well enough out of town. Body control is good and it's a tidy handler, if unremarkable. Use a little too much throttle out of a tight corner when in 4x4 auto mode and you can feel torque being apportioned to the rear wheels, quelling any wheel spin or sloppy behaviour. Works well from that perspective.
Equipment, Economy & Value for Money: 4/5
Given the size of the SX4 and the price of other regular five-door hatchbacks on the market then it doesn't look great value. However, if you take into consideration the four-wheel drive system it seems to stand alone, several thousand Euros less than its nearest rival. Band B tax and decent fuel economy will help keep running costs down. We averaged about 6.0 litres/100km (47mpg) in a week that mostly involved urban driving.
The standard specification isn't bad either, including cruise control, keyless entry and start, climate control, stereo controls on the steering wheel and 16-inch alloy wheels, plus six airbags.
Crossovers are big business right now, especially as drivers of larger off-roaders and SUVs downsize. Many people probably don't even realise that the Suzuki SX4 is a crossover, but it's a surprisingly good alternative to a regular small hatchback if you like the idea of four-wheel drive and good fuel economy.
•Model driven: Suzuki SX4 2.0 DDiS iAWD
•Engine: 2.0-litre turbodiesel
•Transmission: six-speed manual, four-wheel drive
•Body style: five-door mini-crossover
•Rivals: MINI One D Countryman, Mitsubishi ASX, Nissan Juke
•CO2 emissions: 139g/km (Band B, €156 per annum)
•Combined consumption: 5.3 litres/100km (53.3mpg)
•Power: 135hp at 3,500rpm
•Torque: 320Nm at 1,500rpm