Globally introduced at the 2006 Geneva Motor Show, the name SX4 stands for (S)port (X)-over for (4) seasons of weather. The all-new SX4 features a handsome five-door hatchback design, a standard all-wheel-drive system with good stability and crisp handling characteristics. Consistent with Suzuki’s "Way of Life" brand philosophy, the new Suzuki SX4 was designed to deliver a bold attitude and performance for those who live an adventurous life. The vehicle combines numerous amenities with capable handling to offer an unexpected level of functionality at an affordable price. It also is the only vehicle in its class with standard all-wheel drive.
"Suzuki designed the SX4 to be a year-round standout on the road under any driving condition," said Osamu Honda, chief engineer, SX4. "The team approached the SX4 with the intention of creating an eye-catching vehicle that would grab the attention of customers who appreciate price, performance, features, styling and safety."
Built in Japan, the Suzuki SX4 features a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder, DOHC engine matched to a five-speed manual transmission or a specially tuned available four-speed automatic transmission. Top track speed is 120 mph for the manual transmission model. Preliminary engine specifications and tuning figures indicate the 1995 cc engine will deliver 143 hp and 136 lb-ft of torque, while early fuel consumption estimates show the SX4 will deliver outstanding EPA fuel economy of 24 mpg/city and 30 mpg/highway.
The body and chassis of the SX4 evolved from the award-winning Suzuki Swift design that helped Suzuki earn numerous awards worldwide, including many "Car of the Year" awards in Europe and Asia. The SX4 features a rigid steel unibody and well-managed chassis that was fine-tuned in Europe to provide good stability on the highway along with crisp and responsive handling and braking and minimal body roll. High body rigidity along with reinforced suspension mounts allow the front MacPherson struts and rear torsion beam suspension to work to their full potential. The combination of wide track and a large 16-inch wheel and tire package help make the ride even more solid. The SX4 features large four-wheel disc brakes that match the braking power with the engine potential.
The well-equipped SX4 is configured as a five-door compact hatchback fitted with intelligent all-wheel drive (i-AWD). The i-AWD system operates in three modes via a console-mounted switch — 2WD mode for maximum fuel economy on dry pavement; AWD Auto mode, which controls the drive power distribution ratio to the rear wheels in the range of 0-50 percent depending on available traction; and AWD Lock mode designed to facilitate escape in case of snow or mud with the drive power distribution ratio to the rear wheels in the range of 30-50 percent. When the vehicle reaches 36 mph in AWD Lock mode the system automatically switches to AWD Auto mode.
In concert with Italian designers to fuse the vitality of sport utility vehicles with the elegance of passenger cars, Suzuki created a versatile car that delivers a poise and presence far beyond the SX4’s compact size. Using a simple, elegant and flowing form that sits atop a purposeful, dynamic and substantial underlying structure, the SX4 looks as if it is moving even when standing still.
The body features a low, rising waistline and large, triangular-shaped windows forward of the front doors, giving the SX4 a sporty wedge shape indicative of its outstanding dynamic performance. The wide track and overfender design also adds to the appearance of traction and dynamic performance. The design is pure Suzuki in form — exciting, multi-dimensional and playful.
The practical, X-over design continues inside the Suzuki SX4. Curves and smooth forms gently wrap around the driver and passengers, while circular motifs and a flowing center panel provide indications of the car’s dynamic performance and suitability to active lifestyles. There is a quality look and feel to the materials and fabrics. The dark, two-tone interior design features black cloth highlighted with metallic-colored accents and wedge-shaped motifs — the look is both refined and aggressive. The ergonomic design of the instrument panel and dashboard provides intuitive use of the meters and controls. The large three-ring instrument cluster is easy to read and provides the driver with key information at a glance.
The handsome center stack contains a sophisticated audio system — standard AM/FM/MP3/CD with four speakers or AM/FM/MP3 in-dash six-disc CD changer with six speaker plus subwoofer system (Premium package) — along with climate knobs and other controls. It is a striking example of function and form. The large dials of the manual and available fully automatic climate control system make them easy to use.
With seating for five, the SX4 offers both utility and style. The efficient interior dimensions provide the driver and passengers with comfort, and the exterior dimensions provide outstanding maneuverability for crowded city streets and parking areas. The roomy interior offers plenty of legroom and shoulder room, even for the rear-seat passengers. SX4 also features wide door openings and theater-style seating for the rear passengers.
Practical rear split-folding seats offer 60/40 seating to allow for stowage of longer items. The second-row seats also can be tumbled forward for maximum cargo carrying ability. Luggage room is 9.5 cubic feet (270 liters VDA) and increases to 22.0 cubic feet (625 liters VDA) with the rear seats folded forward. In addition, there are many discreet storage compartments located throughout the cabin, and all the doors feature large pockets and bottle holders for added convenience.
The SX4 offers customers an extensive array of standard safety features. Active safety features include four-wheel disc brakes with an anti-lock brake system, which are standard with electronic brake-force distribution. In addition, Electronic Stability Program(R) (ESP) (including traction control)*, standard on the Premium package, generates compensating yaw moment in the event of rear-wheel or front-wheel slip to help the driver return the car to its intended path of travel.
Passive safety equipment includes a safety-reinforced body with front and rear crush zones designed to help absorb impact energy. The unibody frame design directs much of the impact energy away from the reinforced cabin area.
Six airbags are standard on the SX4: driver and front passenger front airbags; driver and front passenger side impact airbags; and side curtain airbags designed to provide additional protection for outboard front- and rear-seat passengers. In addition, the SX4 is fitted with front three-point seatbelts with pretensioners and force limiters, three-point emergency locking retractor rear seat belts, ISO FIX-compliant child seat anchors and a high-mounted stop lamp.
The all-new 2007 Suzuki SX4 is scheduled to go on sale in the United States during the third quarter of 2006. Manufacturer suggested retail prices are expected to range from $15,000 to $18,000.
Like the VW Polo Dune and Citroen C3 XTR, the SX4 isn’t designed for serious mud-plugging. However, if you ignore the rather pointless two-wheel drive version, the SX4 4GRIP has more than enough 4x4 traction for most situations, along with raised ride height, underbody protection and a clever gearbox which offers three different "torque on demand" settings.
Two engines will be available - a 1.6 litre petrol with 105 bhp and a 119 bhp version of Fiat’s 1.9 litre turbodiesel engine, due to follow later in 2006. The Suzuki SX4 shares its mechanical underpinnings entirely with the new Fiat Sedici, with the two cars being built alongside each other in Hungary.
The styling certainly looks tough enough to withstand the school run, although some of the interior plastics and trim feel cheap. Space is reasonable front and rear, although motorway cruising is loud thanks to the low-geared five-speed transmission. Although it shares most of its chassis with the fine-driving Swift supermini, it’s less composed dynamically - although grip levels are respectable and body roll is minimal. Drivers can also opt to shift to fuel saving front-wheel drive only mode on the road.
The petrol engine sounds noisy when worked hard, but gives the Suzuki a respectable turn of speed. 0-62 mph takes a claimed 11.2 seconds in the four-wheel drive version - while it will also return up to a claimed 39.8 mpg on the combined cycle. The forthcoming diesel is barely better - delivering 42.8 mpg.
Given the choice between Fiat and Suzuki versions, we can’t help thinking that many punters will opt for the superior dealer service of the Japanese company. That may be the SX4’s greatest strength.