Now in its fourth year since replacing the Aerio, the Suzuki SX4 has gained a steadily increasing following as an unheralded competitor to the Honda Fit, Hyundai Accent and Scion xD. But the compact car now features 16 stylings, including the new sportiest family edition, the Sx4 Sportback.
A hatchback with a different name, the Sportback has a firmer suspension, a lower ride height, increased of horsepower (143 to 150) and two new transmission options a six-speed manual or a continuously variable transmission (CVT), the latter of which replaces last year’s four-speed automatic.
And there’s more: restyled front fascia, a new instrument cluster, a height-adjustable driver seat, an auxiliary audio jack (delayed availability), a few new navigation features and some renamed trim levels.
My weekly test driver was the six-speed manual transmission. It has a short shift box, and not the fastest car on the round, it tries hard. I can remember driving an entry sedan that was so much fun to drive sine the first year of the previously mentioned Honda Fit.
Suzuki has put a lot of thought into the Sportback and the additions cover a lot of ground, practicality to safety to efficient use of space. It all adds up to value.
In addition to its smooth, steady drive, the Suzuki SX4 feels bigger than it is. One primary reason is the near panoramic view. The front windshield is wide and it’s complement by large extra front seat driver and passenger side portals. Further, considering its size and its hatchback style, the view through the rear is window surprisingly void of obstruction.
Another keen standard feature is the portable touch screen navigation system. It rests on top center of the instrumentation panel. It recesses for safety and is also removable. The standard MSN Direct Services include real time traffic to low price gas finder to airport arrival information.
The SX4 is also keen on practicality. Extraordinarily efficient heated seats, ceiling hand grips, lots of cup holders, multi-position sunshields. They’re all small items, but added as part of the whole package, the SX4 provides amble reason to believe that just because a car has an entry level price its doesn’t mean the manufacturer “cut corners” to keep the cost down.
Airbags: Dual front, side and side curtain (Standard).
Fuel economy: (EPA estimates) mpg (city), mpg (hwy).
Government Safety Ratings (stars): Frontal crash, driver 4, passenger 5; Side crash, front seat 5, back seat 4; Rollover, 4.
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $17,949.00
Price As tested: $18,513.00
Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 5 years/60,000 miles; Powertrain, 7 years/100,000 miles (transferrable); Roadside assistance, 3 years/36,000 miles.
What Others Say:
“The 2010 Suzuki SX4 certainly merits consideration if you’re in need of an affordable all-weather vehicle or are just looking for an inexpensive but practical and feature-packed set of wheels.” — Edmunds.com
“Sporty and Suzuki are words that have never really meshed in our minds when it comes to the brand’s U.S. lineup. But that’s starting to change, thanks to vehicles like the upcoming Kizashi sedan and the 2010 SX4 SportBack.” — MotorTrend.com.
“Feverish, strung tight, with an exhaust note that sounds like Santa’s elves caught in a wood chipper, the SX4 SportBack is the perfect car for those who think perfection is overrated.” — ChicagoTribune.com
The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:
“Until I drove the Suzuki Sportback, I was convinced the Honda Fit was the best economy car on the road. But match it against the re-done 2010 SX4, and it’s a tough call. The Honda gets the name recognition edge and has better gas mileage. The SX4 Sportback wins the rest of the honors.”
James, a journalist since 1976, is co-author of Tour de France For
Dummies. He owns several websites, contributes to many print and online
publications and is also the editor of TheWeeklyDriver.com. A long-distance runner for nearly 30 years, Raia also rides his bike — to nearby coffeehouses. E-mail: email@example.com.