Suzuki SX4 2.0 DDiS SZ5 review
by David Finlay (26 April 2011)
Being as it's a lifestyle SUV and all, you might expect the Suzuki SX4 to have a diesel engine and four-wheel drive. And so it does. Or so this one does, anyway. Most SX4s are 1.6-litre petrol affairs, and most of those are front-wheel drive only. You have to go right to the top of the range to find an SX4 with the classic SUV engine/transmission combination.
And I venture to suggest that this is the best SX4 of all. Last year I drove one of the 1.6 petrol models and didn't think much of it at all. The 133bhp two-litre diesel (actually a Fiat unit, since Suzuki doesn't make its own diesels) is more powerful, more economical and emits less CO2, though not by enough to make it cheaper to tax than the 1.6.
Thanks to new engine mountings and better noise insulation, it's also not significantly noisier. "A bit obvious but not harsh" is the phrase that appears in my notebook. I think I know what I meant by that, and I hope you do too.
The ride and handling also seem superior to those of the 1.6. In diesel form the SX4 almost verges on the sporty, whereas the petrol model was cumbersome. Within reason, which means allowing for the high centre of gravity, you can spank this car along a quiet country road reasonably effectively, though the fact that it's also a decent motorway cruiser and easy to drive round town is probably of more interest to potential buyers.
The 4x4 system probably helps the on-tarmac handling slightly, though it's difficult to tell since there isn't a front-wheel drive diesel in the range. It certainly allows both this car and the four-wheel drive 1.6 to offer a certain amount of lifestyle off-roaderness - at least as much as the similar Nissan Qashqai and Kia Sportage, anyway.
The rear load sill is fairly high, but once you've negotiated that there's a boot which, at 270 litres, is reasonably practical, and helped a surprisingly low floor for a car with a rear axle. With the rear seats folded the capacity increases to 1045 litres.
There are things I really don't like about the SX4. The steering wheel, for example, isn't adjustable for reach - why are cars still being built like this? And the visibility at the front is just awful, thanks to the enormous windscreen pillars.
Suzuki must be aware of this, since there are large quarterlight windows, but the tops are below my eyeline (and presumably below the eyeline of a shorter person who would have to compensate by sitting higher) so they don't alter the fact that it's very difficult to see what's approaching you from the right at a T-junction or roundabout.
Still, this is my favourite SX4 by a long way, even though it's the most expensive by a comparable margin. The SZ5 trim level doesn't have much to do with this, since the amount of equipment is almost exactly the same as that of the SZ4 and not much ahead of the entry-level SZ3.
It's the diesel engine and the 4x4 system which kick the price up to a current £16,700. Compare this with the cost of other SX4s (the next dearest of which is £1800 cheaper) and it seems a lot. But try to find another lifestyle SUV with similar mechanicals on sale for a remotely comparable sum and you'll see that one of the major advantages of the SX4 is its price.