Suzuki SX4 comes in from the cold
Despite sturdy competition, Suzuki’s new compact crossover has the charisma to maintain kerbside appeal, and deserves more attention
Date Reviewed: January 13, 2014
Suzuki is not a prominent marque in Irish motoring minds; it’s probably better known for producing fast sports bikes than family cars. Yet those cars are well worth a closer look. Anyone who drives the Swift supermini will attest to its impressive on-road dynamics and practicality, all backed up with well-rated reliability.
Now Suzuki has introduced its latest model onto the Irish market, its compact crossover, the Suzuki SX4 S-Cross. Significantly, it shares nothing with its precursor, the SX4. It’s enjoying a fine introduction, having recently been awarded a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating, something worth shouting about to prospective customers, who’ll primarily be purchasing this as their family car. Admittedly the SX4 S-Cross faces tough competition from well-established rivals such as the Nissan Qashqai and Skoda Yeti, while rivals like the Mazda’s CX-5 and the Kia Sportage are also in the fray. The all-new Qashqai promises enhanced levels of refinement; if sales to date are anything to go by, then this will no doubt be the key seller in this ever-increasing segment.
Despite sturdy competition, the Suzuki has enough charisma to maintain kerbside appeal, and it is well equipped to take a slice of this competitive segment. Pricing for the SX4 S-Cross commences from a respectable €19,995 for the 1.6-litre petrol GL two-wheel-drive variant, as part of a special six-month introductory offer that’s valid until May 2014.
Both two-wheel and four-wheel-drive (diesel only) models are available, and our test car was the 1.6-litre diesel GLX four-wheel-drive Allgrip. This turbo-charged unit produces 120bhp and 320Nm of torque. Power is linear and certainly plentiful for all the driving we completed during our week-long evaluation around Dublin city and its surroundings. Torque is accessible low down the rev range, from just 1,750rpm, which aids acceleration. It’s a frugal unit offering a combined consumption of just 4.6L/100km (61.4mpg), although in real-world ’motoring you can deduct a few mpgs from this ambitious manufacturer’s figure. The six-speed manual transmission is geared accurately and complements the frugal diesel engine up front. Handling is, as expected from Suzuki, competent and enjoyable: the SX4 S-Cross is far more entertaining to drive than most compact SUVs on the roads today. It’s no hot hatch and was never designed to thrill, yet it offers enough driver engagement to satisfy drivers in this class.
Four driving modes
The key trait of the test car was Suzuki’s Allgrip four-wheel-drive technology, a system that enables you to select between four driving modes – Auto, Sport, Snow and Lock – by turning a small knob behind the gear stick. We left it in Auto mode for the vast majority of our driving, trusting the electronics to decide on the optimal setting. When we did dial up Sport mode on twisty country roads, the system altered the accelerator/torque characteristics to optimise engine response and cornering performance. It also diverted 20 per cent more torque to the rear wheels. Acceleration out of tight corners was noticeably improved, the car navigating a tighter line through twisty sections of road.