2011 Suzuki SX4 Hatchback Road Test Review

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You'd think building the fastest sport bike on the planet (Suzuki Hayabusa) would illuminate a halo capable of casting a favourable glow over the entire Suzuki product line. Unfortunately, most North American motorists of the four-wheeled persuasion have limited knowledge of Suzuki's automotive lineup.

Yet, the Suzuki SX4 Hatchback is a car we like. The SX4 Hatchback offers a generous array of standard equipment, an engaging driving experience, and while the company isn't doing this one intentionally, exclusivity. OK, so it's "exclusive" because nobody else is buying one, but hey, if you want to stand out from the crowd and don't have Ferrari/Lamborghini/Maserati/Maybach/Rolls-Royce money, here's another way to get there.

Now by that, we most assuredly do not mean the little Suzuki is in any way directly comparable to those cars. What we're saying is you're just as likely to see one of those mega-dollar bolides snootily wafting down the street, as you are the modestly priced Suzuki. And frankly, that's a shame. The SX4 Hatchback is quite fun to drive.

Powered by a 150-horsepower, 2.0-litre double overhead cam four-cylinder engine, our test car used a six-speed manual transmission to port the engine's output to the front wheels. Suzuki also offers the SX4 Hatchback with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Yes, we know the SX4 designation implies four-wheel drive, but in fact only one iteration of the SX4 sends power to both the front and rear wheels (the SX4 Hatchback JLX).

But we digress.

The 2.0-litre four revs freely and offers good torque output (140 ft-lbs). While these numbers may sound modest, it's important to keep in mind we're talking about a car with only 1,270 kilos of curb weight.

That light weight translates into sprightly performance, thanks to some choice suspension decisions on the part of Suzuki's engineering team. The car turns in nicely, readily takes a set and tracks confidently through corners. Yes, there is some body lean, but if you want absolutely flat from a car as tall as this one, you might ought to go back to school, study a bit of physics, and recalibrate your expectations. Disc brakes at all four corners with ABS and Electronic Brake Force Distribution provide more than adequate stopping capability.

Best of all, while wholly capable of returning an interesting drive, the Suzuki SX4 Hatchback also delivers comfort when saddled with the day to day mundanities that comprise the majority of any car's working life. Ergonomically, the SX4 Hatchback is pretty sound; all controls are about where you'd expect to find them. Dialing in a comfortable driving position is readily attainable and the overall ambience, while certainly that of an economy car, is nevertheless satisfying.

Suzuki also piled on a healthy helping of standard features. You'll find power windows, locks and mirrors; an automatic-dimming rearview mirror with an integrated compass; an AM/FM/CD four-speaker audio system with MP3 and satellite radio capability; a tilt steering wheel; air conditioning; remote keyless entry; a reclining split-folding second row; a driver's information centre; and standard side-thorax and side-curtain airbags.

Upgrade to the JX version of the SX4 Hatchback, you'll also get a cruise control; a leather-wrapped steering wheel with illuminated audio controls; 16-inch alloy wheels; heated mirrors; black roof rails; plus side skirts and wheel arch extensions for a sportier more crossover-like look. JX buyers also have the option of electronic stability control and all-wheel drive.

The top-line JLX adds an upgraded audio system with 9 speakers and a sub; automatic climate control; SmartPass proximity sensing remote keyless access and ignition; fog lights; black and silver roof rails; steering wheel-mounted paddle-shifters; heated front seats; plus standard electronic stability control and all-wheel drive.

Capable of seating five, though considerably more comfortable for a tall driver when seating three, the SX4 Hatchback also offers excellent headroom throughout-along with generous cargo capacity.

Bottom line, if this car had a Honda or Toyota logo on it, that whole "exclusivity" thing we spoke of earlier would not be. A fine little car for the price, the Suzuki delivers a strong feature set, engaging dynamics, and acceptable (if not exactly stellar) fuel economy at a U.S. EPA metric equivalent rating of 10.2-city and 7.8-hwy for the six-speed manual. The company estimates 10.2-city and 7.8-hwy for the CVT. During our testing we averaged 9.8 L/100km overall- including determined dashes through our favourite crooked canyon. Overly optimistic Canadian ratings are 9.1-city and 6.3-hwy for the manual or 8.2 and 6.4 respectively for the CVT.

2011 Suzuki SX4 Hatchback pricing starts at $17,835.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Hatchback, Suzuki, 2011, SX4, $10,000 - $19,999, Compact,

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