|Photos by Ulysses Ang|
Whether you see it as a sub-compact or a compact, you can’t ignore that uniqueness of the SX4. While the sedan version maybe a bit too conservative for some folks, the hatchback or “Crossover” in Suzuki terms, looks just right. It’s an equal dose of sportiness and utility. On one hand, it has those sculpted front bumpers, mesh-type grille and even an available orange-red copper hue. On the other, it has roof-mounted cross rails, black wheel lips and tall tires. The combination may not seem appetizing at first, but the SX4 Crossover’s styling grows on you. In terms of exterior fit and finish as well as paintwork, the SX4 is simply top notch.
Inside, the SX4 looks quite alright with a layout exactly as you’d expect from a Japanese car: ergonomic and straight-forward. The thick-rimmed three-spoke steering wheel is especially nice and so is the new LED back-lit instrument panel complete with a trip computer. The use of high-gloss metallic trim on the center console is a great touch, giving the cabin an upscale look. Bright bits aside though, the SX4 still feels too much like an economy car inside. There are a lot of plain and cheap feeling plastics. For instance, the dash itself with its nicely grained finish could have been nice, but it’s hard to the touch. And then the major controls such as power windows switches and stalks don’t exude the right kind of quality.
Despite the aforementioned short wheelbase, the SX4 has excellent interior space. Despite the lack of any fancy space-saving features like a flat-rear floor, this car offers generous seating for five. The tall roof line gives an airy feel and even those seated at the back will like the supportive seats and ample knee room. The hatchback hides a deep cavity good enough to swallow some airport-sized luggage and that’s even before activating the 60/40 split-fold function.
Ergonomically, you sit high in the SX4. Coupled with the large A-pillar and short dash, it gives a towering feel compared to other cars on the road. The A-pillar windows should have theoretically eliminated blind spots, but because of the oddly shaped A-pillar itself (where it drops almost vertically rather than sloping) it hampers visibility quite a bit especially near the three-quarters front of the car.
The high driving position should serve as a precursor to the SX4’s performance. It’s nothing sporty or fancy, but it’s comfortable and serene—perfect in tackling everyday city traffic. This car isolates road imperfections very well. The long travel and softly sprung suspension make it glide through the deepest of potholes. Even the tires, with a 205/60 R 16 size were definitely chosen to provide comfort more than cornering prowess. The excessive use of sound insulating foam makes the cabin extra quite too, but thicker windows could have eliminated the wind noise that show up at speeds above 60 km/h.
Swapping the old 1.6-liter motor to a new mill liberated 8 more horsepower (110 versus 102) and 5 Nm more torque (150 versus 145). But despite its new mechanical heart, the SX4 still struggles in straight-line performance because of its heavy curb weight. It may not win any stoplight duels, but at least it feels safe and planted through corners and curves. Sadly, the combination of a heavy curb weight and a small displacement engine hurts the SX4 in terms of fuel economy, managing just 9.1 km/L in city driving. The four-wheel disc set-up also means it stops very well.
It maybe easy to dismiss the Suzuki SX4 in the sea of Corollas and Civics, but it does have its own strengths. It has excellent interior room, a flexible luggage space and a comfortable driving experience. It may not like hard driving, interior trimmings could have been better and the fuel economy could be better; but overall, the SX4 warrants consideration if you’re in the market for a new everyday car.