When the Suzuki SX4 appeared on the marketplace a couple of years ago, I was smitten. Here was a petite hatch with all-wheel drive that behaved like it was bigger and more expensive than it was. I drove one (with manual transmission and no cruise control) from the Los Angeles area to Las Vegas and back with nary a bit of discomfort. It was a lot of fun.
Suzuki has recently taken the SX4 to another level, bringing in the Sportback model with front-wheel drive (not everybody off-roads these days, do they?) in a five-door hatchback body style. What is different about this model is its sporting tendencies and this makes it stand apart from the balance of the compact hatchback field.
Price, too, is a calling card for the 2010 Suzuki SX4 Sportback. This Quicksilver Metallic SX4 has a list price of $19,248. The sole options on the car are floor mats for the cabin and cargo area at $175), $130 for the special paint and $259 for Bluetooth connectivity with text message display. Who could ask for anything more?
Standard equipment includes a Garmin navigation system at the top of the center stack that’s integrated with the audio system and has real-time traffic, low price fuel finder, news, weather, stocks and airline information. An excellent 6-CD audio system with 9 speakers and a subwoofer are part of the standard equipment, as are automatic air conditioning, power windows, locks and mirrors, cruise control, tilt leather steering wheel with audio and cruise controls embedded and a trip computer.
Motive power for the Suzuki SX4 Sportback comes from a 2.0-liter dual overhead cam in-line four-cylinder that makes 150 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 140 pound-feet of torque at 3,500 rpm. The speedometer goes to 140 mph; engine redline is 6,500 and at 70 mph, one cruises fairly quietly at 2,750 rpm.
To stir this power, we always prefer a manual transmission and Suzuki fits a sweet six-speed tranny that has good clutch uptake and smooth movement fore and aft. One lifts a ring to engage reverse. MacPherson struts with coil springs at the front team with torsion beams and coil springs at the rear to create suspension that is sufficiently compliant while giving the intended sporty ride.
Dunlop P205/50R 17-inch tires ride on 10-spoke alloy rims that, together with the silver paint, create an integrated look to this petite car. A small rear winglet at the top of the hatch opening accompanies slight side sills that give the SX4 Sportback an even more sporting visage.
Visibility is very good throughout with large windows and only tiny blind spots at the final pillars. The steering is on-center, truly direct and not too light to the touch. It helps this 2,822 pound hatch feel like it’s dancing over the road. Turning circle is 34.8 feet, good for a front-wheel drive hatch.
Suzuki includes electronic stability and traction control systems on the 2010 SX4 Sportback, together with antilock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution. There are front, side and head curtain airbags, along with tire pressure monitoring for passive safety. While the SX4 doesn’t use a key, per se, one does need to turn the appropriate knob on the steering column to ignite and turn off the car.
The patterned near-back cloth seats are o bit over-bolstered for this driver, and that seat height adjustment sure helps. A full set of gauges in black with blue rims lie in front of the driver and include a temperature gauge. There is good bi-level open storage in the center of the cabin but it isn’t covered. The hatch storage is covered and there is a compartment between the floor and the spare tire for items one really needs to keep safe.