Suzuki's small family "crossover"

A year ago I brought you my first impressions of the Suzuki SX4, which is probably best described as small hatchback/SUV/MPV crossover. The model I tested then was the front-wheel-drive 1.6-litre. This time I had a chance to try the four-wheel-drive version with the new two-litre DDiS engine.

Whatever sector you want to designate it, the Suzuki SX4 is a versatile small hatchback offering good and practical small hatchback accommodation for a family of four. It does add in elements of MPV and SUV, the main one being the four-wheel-drive system on certain models and the resulting ability to undertake some light off-road work.

Suzuki SX4

One big practical advantage of the SX4 comes is that it has four passenger doors, where so many others in this class do with two. This not only makes it easier for passengers, but also for putting jackets and bags in the back.

For a small car it actually feels quite roomy, with a space-saving upright seating position. I would have welcomed maybe an inch more legroom, but it was much better than some cars that I have recently tested.

Thankfully the interior design avoids the over-fussy, over-sculpted look of some Japanese car maker’s offerings. This one has quite a bit of a European look to it. Simple straightforward design and trim, albeit some of the plastic looking rather budget priced.

This European look is probably not surprising. Not only is Volkswagen now a shareholder in Suzuki, but the SX4 was actually designed in partnership with Fiat and is produced – for European markets – in Hungary.

The slightly higher driving position and big windows add to the impression of airyness and space. But, while visibility in most directions is good, the double front pillars are quite intrusive. Even with the quarterlights, you have to be aware of the blind spots they create.

Fiat also supplies the two-litre 135PS diesel engine in the test car. Whereas my last Suzuki SX4 test was the front wheel drive model. This second test car is of the four-wheel-drive model, which is confusingly identified by the suffix SZ5. So the test car’s full name is Suzuki SX4 2.0 DDiS SZ5.

Suzuki SX4 interior

With the four-wheel-drive version you get three drive modes, selected with a switch on the console – 2WD, Auto and 4WD-Lock. I was advised to leave the car in Auto and let it select the number of drive wheels for the conditions. The 2WD setting forces the car to stay in front-wheel-drive only for the best fuel consumption, whereas the 4WD-Lock sets the car in four-wheel-drive mode up to 40 mph, when it reverts to auto mode.

Performance with the two-litre diesel is quite impressive and I found the SX4 2.0 DDiS to be responsive and willing. However it does come with a rather droning soundtrack when you plant your foot on the accelerator. I did find that tiresome, especially when negotiating B-roads with regular acceleration between bends.

Other than the engine noise, the SX4 proved to be very much at home on these roads where, despite its tall design, the SX4 not only proved to have sharp and precise handling, but impressive body control.

The official combined fuel consumption of the Suzuki SX4 2.0 DDiS SZ5 is 53.3 mpg, but my average over five days of driving on city and country roads ended up just over 40 mpg. Emissions are quoted at 139 g/km of carbon dioxide.

I really liked the practicality of the Suzuki SX4 in both two-wheel-drive and this four-wheel-drive form. It is also a quite a fun car to drive, with reasonable performance and good dynamics, spoiled only a little by that rather intrusive engine noise under acceleration.

Opting for the bigger two-litre diesel engine and the four-wheel-drive adds quite a bit to the cost. The model tested, the Suzuki SX4 DDiS 2.0 SZ5 costs £16,700 compared to £13,710 for the 1.6 SZ4.

Suzuki SX4

But, it is still a lot of car for the money. Especially if your leisure pursuits take you off the black stuff. Or, if you need to keep going in the white stuff.
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