- Perky handling
- Smooth four-cylinder engine
- Great visibility
- Tight rear-seat room
- Economy-car acceleration
- Hardly beautiful
The 2008 Suzuki SX4 Sport brings all-wheel drive to the subcompact class, along with great visibility and an engaging driving experience.
The SX4 Sport is a small sedan aimed at a narrow window between the least expensive new cars on the U.S. market, and some of the finest-handling economy cars sold here.
The SX4 Sport starts winning friends with its 2.0-liter four, which spins out 143 horsepower and 135 pound-feet of torque in a happy, smooth patter. The sweet-shifting five-speed manual that comes with many Sports suits the engine ideally, with well-spaced ratios, a short throw, and a grippy shift knob. It's no fuel-economy champion, though it's pretty good at sipping rather than quaffing the stuff. The government rates the SX4 Sport at 21/28 mpg with the manual transmission.
In handling and chassis feel, Suzuki's done small wonders with the Sport's MacPherson strut and torsion-beam suspension. It's a point-and-shoot affair with its light, direct steering and fairly nimble ride. Even with 17-inch wheels, which would have seemed titanic on a car this size 10 years ago, the Suzuki SX4 Sport hums over secondary roads.
Part of the reason the Sport feels so light-footed is a sort of visual psychology. The front doors' windows are cut lower than those of any vehicle in recent memory, and because you see more of the road moving alongside the car, the impression of speed and quick response is greater. There's ample knee room for drivers and front passengers, too, something rarer these days in subcompacts. But for a four-door, the Sport's interior package is pretty much all about the driver. Big guys can set the front seats to their liking, but that won't leave a lot of room in the backseat.
It's far from beautiful, but the 2008 Suzuki SX4 Sport is at least neatly detailed. The dash is attentively styled. The Sport's gauges are sharp, and there's a high-quality look and feel to the radio faceplate and dash textures that's very appealing.
Other features well appreciated are the standard CD stereo with MP3 capability; available iPod integration and in-dash CD changer; and Bluetooth. Other option packages include cruise control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with those marvy radio controls, fog lamps, and stability control. The automatic transmission is a $1,100 option. All cars come standard with a seven-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.
Six airbags are standard, as are anti-lock brakes and daytime running lights. NHTSA rates the SX4 Sport at four stars for most crash and rollover tests, save for five-star driver-side impact protection.