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Suzuki has revamped the SX4 line-up. The new models come with more power, better fuel economy and more safety and comfort items. The 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine now has variable valve timing which sees power increase 5 per cent to 112kW and torque rise 3 per cent to 190Nm.
A new six-speed manual transmission has contributed to an 11 per cent improvement in fuel economy - now 7.3 litres per 100km and a 12 per cent drop in emissions to 170 grams CO2 per km.
A continuously variable transmission (CVT) has improved economy (compared with the previous four-speed auto) by 16 per cent to 7.6L/100km and a 17 per cent drop in emissions to 178g/km.
Suzuki admits a relatively thin safety list hurt sales of the previous model so electronic stability control is now standard on every model. Six airbags are also now standard on all but the entry-level 2WD hatch. As this model is not all-new the SX4's current four-star ANCAP crash rating remains.
The SX4 is Suzuki's small car competitor and so rivals the likes of the Toyota Corolla, Mazda3, Volkswagen Golf, Holden Cruze and Ford Focus. The Subaru Impreza is the only other small car in the class to offer AWD.
Equipment on the SX4 2WD hatch includes electric power steering, power windows and mirrors, remote central locking, air conditioning, AM/FM/CD audio system with auxiliary input jack and backlit steering wheel-mounted audio controls.
Safety items include stability control, two airbags, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS and electronic brake force distribution and three-point seatbelts for all seats.
The entry level AWD hatchback gains side and curtain airbags.
The S models further gain 17-inch alloy wheels (16 on AWD version), cruise control, remote keyless entry and start, steering-wheel-mounted gear-shift paddles (CVT), climate-controlled air conditioning, leather-wrapped steering wheel, front fog lights and an upgraded audio system.
The SX4 sedan is only available in the S equipment line. It also gets a boot lid spoiler.
It had been a while since we'd stepped into the SX4. With tight time restrictions we jumped into the SX4 AWD hatch and the SX4 sedan as they are likely to be the most popular models. We sampled both the manual and CVT transmissions.
On the road the SX4 is comfortable although it can get upset over larger bumps. There has been no change to the SX4's steering or suspension. Even on coarse bitumen road noise is minimal but we noticed some wind noise at higher speeds around the front mirrors and windows.
The drive program took us on a mix of winding bitumen roads and a significant amount of gravel, to show off the SX4's all-wheel-drive system.
Through the twisty, winding roads in Melbourne's Yarra Valley the AWD version was actually a bit of fun with good grip levels however, the SX4 chassis lacks the sharpness of rivals like the Volkswagen Golf and Mazda3, and even its smaller sibling, the Swift.
The steering is not evenly weighted and is vague around centre.
The 2.0-litre engine sounds coarse under acceleration but gets along ok. We thought the CVT transmission was the pick of the two gearboxes.
Inside, the SX4 is a pleasant enough place to be. We liked that there was fabric on the door arm rests for comfort although there is still a lot of hard plastic scattered about the cabin. The dials and instruments are simple and easy to read and the small front quarter windows make forward vision excellent.
The seats don't have a lot of bolstering and you sit on them rather than in them, although over the course of the drive we had no complaints from our rear ends. And, the seats are good for those who like a higher driving position as they have a high hip point. This also makes it easier to get in and out. The front seats have padded arm rests that fold down.
Interior space is good for a small car and head room is especially generous for rear passengers thanks to the hatch's high roofline. Rear leg room is not too bad either and four adults can fit comfortably.
Boot space is a bit small for the class at 253L with the rear seat up and 992L with the rear seat down. The seats split fold 60:40. A Toyota Corolla hatch for example has 350L while a Mazda3 hatch has 340L.
With the considerable amount of gravel on our drive programme, the AWD was the highlight of the range and reinforced that the SX4 can give buyers flexibility only the Subaru Impreza offers in this class.
The SX4 was better than we remembered but our initial impression is that it hasn't moved any goal posts. However, we look forward to getting a few models in the garage for our weekly testing before making our final evaluation.
|Body type||5-door hatchback|
Easy to get in and out of
Hard cabin plastics
|Safety equipment||Stability control, two airbags (six in AWD), four-wheel disc brakes with ABS and electronic brake force distribution and three-point seatbelts for all seats.|
|Country of manufacture||Japan|
|Available from||February 2010|
|Number of cylinders||4|
|Engine size||2.0 L|
|Claimed max power (kW)||112 kW @ 6200 rpm|
|Claimed max torque (Nm)||190 Nm @ 4000 rpm|