Unpretentious and practical, with new-found low speed refinement

What is it?

You wouldn’t know it from the outside, but this is a new Suzuki SX4. Underneath the barely-altered body, there is a heavily reworked version of the 1.6-litre VVT petrol engine.

The biggest alterations are a new cylinder head and block, altered valve lift timing and variable-inlet manifold. The result is a 10 per cent improvement in power and economy, and 13 per cent lower CO2 emissions, plus Euro-5 status.

What’s it like?

Our test car came in two-wheel drive, mid-spec SZ4 trim with standard five-speed ‘box, and proved to be just as enjoyable as the SX4 was before it had its innards modernised.

The engine is more refined than before, thanks in part to the upgrades as well as added cabin insulation, and it is still a rewarding motor to use around town or on a B-road.

Venture onto the motorway and the engine becomes noisy and reluctant to offer much acceleration. It is improved, but it is still a small, naturally aspirated engine mated to a five-speed ‘box and as such it will be pushing the upper reaches of its rev range before you break the speed limit. It’s not uncomfortably noisy, but it’s a way off peaceful.

Unfortunately that is not the biggest flaw in the SX4; that honour falls to the ride quality. The dampers manage to absorb small surface imperfections but the firm setup results in a lot of body movement, even over small undulations in the road.

Beyond that the SX4 proves to be convenient and inoffensive. The steering is heavier at parking speeds than in most other modern superminis, but it has a consistent resistance and accuracy to it that allows for a degree of entertainment as well as ease of use.

Ease of use also characterises the rest of the car. There’s decent visibility, reasonable space for people and luggage and the refreshed switchgear is clearly laid out. A new digital readout has been added, and in this trim you get keyless entry, 16-inch alloys, automatic air-conditioning and audio controls on the leather steering wheel.

Should I buy one?

There are more mainstream superminis available that offer similar levels of space and in some cases better running costs. For many buyers these more conventional models will be the better purchase.

Even though the Suzuki SX4 is a niche choice, it is a likeable and unpretentious one that offers good running costs, a comfortable cabin and lots of practicality for not too much money. For many, those qualities will be enough to seal the deal.

Join the debate

Add a comment…
rodenal 26 January 2010

Re: Suzuki SX4 1.6 SZ4

Suppose it depends on how you look at the car itself - I've been in but never driven one and to me it's just a medium sized hatchback on stilts that pitches and wallows around like a boat - I just dont like the look of the cabin either.

I suppose i can see the benefit of the 4wd version though if it's being sold in a country where snow tyres and awd are the best way of getting around, but it still seems like a half measure to me - not 4wd estate / hatch neither 4x4 with acres of space inside and in the boot.

More a cheap, fuel efficient, slow, tall hatchback for granny to go to the shops in without having to bend over to get in and out of it.

theonlydt 26 January 2010

Re: Suzuki SX4 1.6 SZ4

rodenal wrote:
Dunno if you've ever seen one but they arent all that small, golf +
Seen, test-driven, almost bought! It's just over 4m long, it's closer to a Fiesta than a Focus (Fiesta 3.95m, SX4 in 4x4 bodykit 4.23m, Focus 4.4m) - but it's basically Golf sized as the Golf is quite small for its class (4.2m). The corsa and Clio are both over 4m now, putting the SX4 somewhere inbetween classes (and therefore the same with the Golf?) While they may not have sold well in NA in general and the UK has been medicore, the East Coast of Canada loves them - can't get enough of them. Being able to pick up something with 4 wheel drive and a hatchback body significantly cheaper (and more fuel efficient) than a traditional suv has made them a winner over here. In rural areas just about every other car is an sx4 in some places.

kcrally 26 January 2010

Re: Suzuki SX4 1.6 SZ4

these are quite popular in the pennine's where sensible folk live