2010 Suzuki SX4
We can say with complete certainty that the latest SX4 variant, the 2010 Suzuki SX4 SportBack, is one of the best compact cars in the US market. Its combination of a quirky design, spacious interior and competent drive are hard to find in a group that frequently lists air conditioning as an option. We’ve always wished the SX4 had a little more power, because last year’s 143 hp 2.0-liter engine felt a little lacking. The new SportBack trim remedies this by adding a re-tuned 2.0-liter engine to bump power up to 150 hp and receiving two new transmissions to help with fuel consumption and power delivery. European styling cues come from the SX4 Crossover
, a five-door guise that we hope to see a lot more of on American roads, and the refreshed interior may not put Mercedes-Benz out of business, but the new gauges and instrument panel look clean and up-to-date. Suzuki seems to be resolved on changing their image by producing cars that are entertaining to drive, at a price point buyers love. Sounds like a good idea to us.
What's to Like
The space. Within the compact five-seater, all occupants have a good amount of headroom and legroom, a rare commodity in the segment. The addition of another gear to the manual gearbox improves off-the-line speed and makes the SX4 a little more fuel thrifty. You can’t forget about America’s best warranty either.
What's Not to Like
The high seating position won’t be to everyone’s liking, and the flat seats aren’t among the cushiest we’ve had the pleasure of experiencing. We’d love the addition of a telescoping steering wheel too.
DriverSide Driving Impressions
In a segment that sees more than its fair share of unimaginative rides, the SX4 Crossover is surprisingly peppy and competent on the road. Despite ditching Suzuki’s all-wheel drive system in favor of a front-wheel drive setup, the SportBack doesn’t feel floaty in corners and understeer is kept mostly at bay. The car has been lowered by a half-inch and an aero package with side skirts and front and rear spoilers have been added. Coupled with the KYB suspension and the extra horsepower, the SX4 actually lives up to its sporty moniker. We’d recommend the new six-speed manual with its crisp, easily findable gearshifts, but the CVT, though a little buzzy, doesn’t fail to competently bring the car up to speed either. Seats don’t support well for more spirited driving, yet you’ll find them comfortable enough for daily commutes and running around town.
Engine and Drivetrain
With a reworked 2.0-liter engine, the SX4 SportBack boosts power to 150 horsepower and 140 lb-ft of torque. A new six-speed manual or CVT will deliver the extra get-up-and-go to the front wheels only, instead of all four.
Interesting Vehicle Features and Options
It’s true this isn’t a fully loaded luxury car, but the SportBack comes with its fair share of convenient appointments. A tilting steering wheel, power windows, cruise control and locks, split folding rear seats and MP3 compatibility are all standard. You’ll also have access to a standard iPod connector and steering-wheel-integrated controls.
Key Technology Evaluation
However much the standard navigation system, first introduced in the Crossover, resembles an aftermarket part, it provides the SX4 with much of its technology. For 2010, the system adds airline arrivals and departure notifications, lane guidance, weather maps and 3D graphics.
Green Evaluation/Gas Mileage
The folks at Suzuki may have had a few tricks up their sleeves with regards to more efficient transmissions, but fuel consumption hasn’t improved much over the last generation. Not that the SportBack is a heavy drinker at 22 mpg city, 30 highway for the manual and 23 city, 30 highway for the CVT, but wares from Honda and Toyota can see numbers like 34 mpg highway in comparison.
A Closer Look: Vehicle Details
Convenient features like under-floor storage and fold-flat seats improve usability in the five-door, and the newly redesigned instrument panel considerably upgrades the interior space with a clean design and easy-to-use controls. Trunk space is larger than you’d think from looking at the exterior, and the rear seats are split folding to give you even more cargo room.
The SportBack shares similar exterior styling with the Crossover, though the rear spoiler has been modified, the car is lowered and 17-inch wheels have been added as standard. The five-door hatchback design makes ingress and egress an easy affair.
Market Segment and Pricing
Pricing has yet to be announced, but the SportBack should slot in above the Crossover’s $16,099 starting price. If it weren’t for the $19,340 starting price, the Volkswagen Rabbit
five-door, with its 170 hp, would be its most direct competitor despite the extra power. The growing category is also made up of the $16,695 Kia Spectra5
(in its last year), $16,100 Nisan Versa
and $14,900 Honda Fit
– all less powerful than the SportBack.
What We Think
Will it sell? We hope so. In terms of price, drivability and functionality, the SX4 SportBack is poised develop a good hold on the compact hatchback segment upon its release. The nearly identically sized Volkswagen Rabbit is really the only other car that boasts the standard features and boosted power found in the SportBack, but with an edge on pricing, the Suzuki has a good chance of wooing buyers.