Friday, 29 August 2008

Test Review: Suzuki SX4 Sedan

The Suzuki Swift was a good – and successful - reintroduction of the small car maker’s presence back to Malaysia. It looked good, drove well and sold in good numbers too. So when Suzuki Automobiles Malaysia (SMA) introduced a slightly larger and taller crossover hatch in the form of the SX4, powered by a 1.6L (instead of the Swift’s1.5), I wasn’t really taken in, more so with its rather quirky A-pillars section, window with up-curved border et al.

Just last month, SMA was at it again, this time serving to broaden its car models range. With a boot added the SX4, Suzuki is now traversing into the dominant territory of the ubiquitous Toyota Vios, Honda City and to a certain extent, the Nissan Latio sedan. Honestly, I wasn’t very convinced either, of another B-segment sedan in the vein of tall boy concepts of the City and Latio sedan.

Truth is, the silver metallic SX4 sedan didn’t look disproportionate in the metal, unlike the pre-facelift City. Alright, the butt section is kind of J.Lo (the U.S. artiste, not our Jason Lo) or of Beyonce’s league but the tail lamps with some Audi A4 (B6) mimicry at its upper section did a little redemption of the slimming kind (read: disguises the bulk).

After a few days of driving around, I discovered there’s more to like about this car than its RM88,888 (OTR excluding insurance) CBU-from-Japan sticker price. The standard bodykit are miles better than those found via Honda’s Modulo (e.g. Stream) and Toyota (on its Altis) with none of the gap that needs black rubber lining to fill up to. The seats are way more generous and supportive than the other ‘Desirable’ car, while the boot aces even the City at 515 litres capacity! Also ‘unique’ to this segment is the SX4’s Isofix child seat points (at the rear) and a proper engine coolant temperature gauge.

The SX4 is very easy and nice to chuck around. Body roll is quite minimal despite its lofty perch, while the steering is simply well-weighted for its class. Even the on-steering headunit controls are tactile and felt premium. The 8-speaker audio system is also acceptable quality for an OE system. Though not class leading in terms of power output (102bhp at 5600 rpm/ 140Nm at 4000rpm), this tall Suzuki compact sedan remains affably tractable with a good spread of low end torque, only found to be a wee bit bogged down after going over a speed bump driving up a gradient.

Credit has to be given to Suzuki for the firm (quite VW-like) but pliant ride of its suspension, while maintaining pretty good body control over varying surfaces and during load changes. In short, the car felt taut on the move and well-built dynamically. On a strip of private road, I managed 160km/h with ease, with minimal wind noise, road noise and engine note. Despite being paired to a 4-speed automatic, the engine ticks at slightly over 2700 rpm at 120km/h. And of course, the roof remained quiet during much of the heavy downpour over the last few days.

Fuel burning rate for this spacious little sedan is a respectable 11.2km/l average, on a mix of highways and suburb driving. The dashboard is simple with straightforward controls, while its automatic climate control a/c is also a first for its class and price point. Its tall and very cab-forward stance worked very well in efficient use of space and packaging. For example, there are bottle holders on all 4 door pockets and even the centre console.

At the end of the day, I couldn’t fault the new Suzuki SX4 sedan much…well perhaps just maybe its bi-pod A-pillar(s) and the somewhat quirky A-pillar window. The engine bay could look a little neater with perhaps, a better looking cam-cover et al. However, these do not detract from the fact that the SX4 drives - and rides - well enough for a simple tech car with a low cost goal to its existence. To those who are looking to buy a B-segment sedan, do not cross this out from your shopping list without a test drive!

1 comment:

BMW.Toyota said...

Great review! I also had the opportunity to test-drive it and found the car a worthy buy. My only gripe is that the extended A pillars were actually obstructing my view when turning.