The Suzuki SX4 has one very big problem. It’s part of a segment that’s oversaturated at the moment, which means it’s so easy to forget that it even exists.
It’s a pity, because after spending a few days with the new model, I found it to be a very good compact crossover.
Let’s start with the styling, which, in my opinion, is much better than ever before. The previous generation SX4 was looking seriously outdated at the end of its lifecycle, but I doubt the new model will age as quickly as that. The new one is curvaceous, elegant and allover more grown-up than the model it replaces.
It’s also bigger, which means you can now realistically call it a family-sized SUV. Rear legroom is perfectly adequate, and while it’s still smaller than most of its rivals, it doesn’t feel that way thanks to smart packaging. Suzuki claims 430 litres of luggage space with the rear seats up and 1 269 litres on the odd occasion when you fold the seats down.
Standard equipment levels are very good, with the SX4 sporting every necessary luxury one could reasonably expect at the price. The materials used on the inside are of a high quality, giving the car a robust and solid feel.
The new model is equipped with a 1,6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, which is mated to a slick five-speed manual. It’s not the most powerful powertrain around, but since it’s a detuned version of the engine found in the fantastic Swift Sport, it sounds rather nice.
Performance was never a top priority, but the SX4 never feels lethargic. It’s perfectly capable of keeping up with the traffic and has no problem sitting at 120km/h all day long.
What impresses most about this engine is its frugal nature. In our hands it averaged a very impressive 6,8 l/100km, which is unheard of in a petrol powered compact crossover. To put that in context, we struggled for two months to get our long-term Subaru XV to dip below 9 l/100km.
The new SX4 features a 4WD system Suzuki calls AllGrip. The driver can operate it from the centre console by selecting between four modes; Auto, Sport, Lock and Snow.
Since the snow setting is meant for Europe, we’ll leave it out and focus on the rest. Auto mode sets the car up to be as efficient as possible, while the sport mode activates the 4WD system when the driver needs it. The SX4 can also be locked in 4WD for added peace of mind on a dirt roads, or when it’s pouring down outside.
Even with this tech as standard, the SX4 was never going to be a serious off-roader. Its biggest problem is a lack of ground-clearance, which proved to be a problem when we attempted to drive down a small grass covered embankment. At least the AllGrip system did a decent job of keeping traction on wet grass.
All things considered, the SX4 is a really good compact crossover. It’s very comfortable and easy enough to drive in town and it has just enough off-road ability for the occasional gravel road.
It even undercuts most of its rivals at R320 000 for the manual AllGrip model. Not a bad proposition and certainly one you should consider if you’re shopping around in this segment.