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Suzuki SX4 2008 new car review

By Darren Cottingham (Auto Media Group) | Reviewed April 2008

  • Suzuki SX4 Sedan 2008 Rq
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This is the third time I’ve had a Suzuki and had to do a long journey with passengers. This time it was to Leigh for a trip to Little Barrier Island. I’m not an avid ornithologist, but I am partial to birds.

The goods

  • Practical
  • Easy to drive
  • Price
  • Manual gearbox is good

The not-so-goods

  • Key is annoying — I just want the car to be unlocked or locked, not half and half
  • Rear legroom compromised by large boot (but still fine for kids…the legroom, not the boot)
  • Ugly from some angles

What I’m not partial to, though, is choppy water and a small boat. Unfortunately that’s exactly what was in store, and it was a radical departure from the benign, cruise control-enhanced ride the Suzuki SX4 Sedan had afforded us on the 80-minute drive from Auckland. Enduring the turbulent trip I needed something to take my mind off the impending nausea. Unfortunately I couldn’t think of enough to say about the SX4 to last the whole journey.

As a car it ticks all the boxes for a sensible and fairly bland vehicle for fleet use, or a small family/couple that want a new mid-sized car on a budget.

The styling is more likely to appeal to the older generation compared to its hatchback sibling, which looks more stylish. We reviewed the SX4 Sporthatch in 2007 and we found it to be quite a capable car. The addition of a boot and the inclusion of narrower tyres and smaller hubs have changed the SX4’s driving dynamics, though. It doesn’t handle as well, suffering slightly more understeer and more noticeable tyre sidewall flex. The Sedan rolls on 195/65R15 tyres with 15-inch wheels compared to the Sporthatch’s 205/60R16 with 16-inch wheels.

Sporting a willing 107kW 2-litre engine with 184Nm of torque, the four-door Suzuki is fairly frugal for a two-litre (we averaged 8.8l/100km), but also has enough power for most motoring requirements. The five-speed manual gearbox has a positive action, snicking into place easily. Its throw is a good length, and the ratios suit the engine’s power and torque, with only steep hills and tubby passengers thwarting acceleration attempts.

The Sedan is not as tall coming in at 1545mm against the Sporthatch’s 1630. This doesn’t seem to affect headroom or getting in/out of the car. It is 25mm wider, though, and 35kg lighter (kerb weight).

I’d never seen so many kereru in one place before going to Little Barrier, but I could have fitted an entire flock of the chubby pigeons in the boot of the SX4. It is the SX4’s strongest point as it’s bigger than a Ford Falcon’s boot at 515 litres. It’s made more useful with split folding rear seats that allow for longer loads. The rear legroom is mildly compromised by the large boot, though.

Interior appointments are in keeping with a car in this price bracket — climate control air conditioning, eight-speaker MP3-compatible stereo with steering wheel controls, pollen filter, and leather wheel — as are the safety features (ABS, EBD, six airbags, brake and clutch pedal decoupling, and seatbelt pretensioners).

On a day-to-day basis (assuming you’re happy with the exterior styling which we think looks a little ugly and dated from the side), the only irritating thing about the SX4 is the keyless entry and start feature (which, incidentally, Phil Clark liked when he drove the SX4 Sporthatch, proving that one of us is wrong). It’s one of those one-touch, leave it in your pocket jobbies which means that the right doors are never open unless you are standing nearby or have pressed the unlock button twice. I’ve had these types of keys before, but they’ve never been so obstructive.

So, what have we got then with the SX4 sedan? According to Suzuki it’s slightly quieter than the Sporthatch because of the boot, and it will appeal to fleet buyers because the sedan boot can hide items out of the sight of would-be thieves. Dynamically, it’s not quite as good as the Sporthatch, but it’s still fun. The great thing about the cheaper Suzukis is that you can easily and safely explore the limits of them — something I thought was great about the Jimny This makes them a perfect choice for learner drivers, and a reasonable amount of fun on the twisting blacktop. And the price – at $24,500 – is just a little barrier to ownership.

Price: from $24,500 (manual; $25,990 automatic)

Note: This was reviewed as a new vehicle.

Darren Cottingham (Auto Media Group)

Darren Cottingham (Auto Media Group)Expert reviewer

I've been obsessed with cars since crashing my toy cars together as a toddler. Since then I've worked on some of NZ's biggest automotive websites. I've been reviewing cars for ten years and am passionate about driving standards, training and education.

(Opinions are my own and not those of Trade Me.)

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