Driven: 2010 Suzuki SX4 Sportback Page 2

March 15, 2010
The 2010 Suzuki SX4 just looks cute. It's hard not to like almost everything about its design and what it fits in such a small package. The roofline and profile are both utilitarian and fashionable; the little down-tuck of the beltline, combined with the tall seating affords a better view out than in most vehicles its height and size. The seats are a little short and supportive, and even when properly adjusted this 6'-6" driver had plenty of legroom and headroom but felt slightly 'scooped' up and forward; you won't find a back seat as incredibly space-efficient as that of the 2010 Honda Fit, but it's just roomy enough for adults on short trips and expands for larger items (though it neither folds low or completely flat). With it up and in place, there's about 20 cubic feet—plenty for a major grocery restock in our household—plus there's a trick lower compartment in back, beneath the level cargo floor.

And there are lots of storage bins, from the one just to the left of the steering wheel, to several smaller ones just below the climate control and more yet in the center console and in each door. Interior appointments, from the door panels to the dash and center console, are made largely of hard plastic, but it doesn't have the thin, hollow feel of some vehicles; we liked the look of the patterned cloth of our test SportBack, but even after a week it was attracting all sorts of lint and dust and doesn't look like it would stay pretty for long.

At the end of a week, we were still mixed about the small front 'A-pillar' windows, which allow that unique curve and lower beltline. For this tall driver, the windows helped with visibility and weren't bothersome, but for someone seated more forward it would seem that smaller pillar would be right up near the driver's face.

Beyond the base-model five-door SX4, the Suzuki Sportback includes a sport suspension, 17-inch alloys, fog lamps, lower-body kit, and leather steering-wheel and shift-knob trim, plus automatic climate control, keyless entry, and cruise control. What makes it stand out even more from the crowd, feature-wise, is that it also includes a navigation system with a year of gas-price, weather, and news service, plus a nice-sounding eight-speaker sound system that's ready for XM satellite radio.

We love the packaging of the nav system, and the simple manual fold-up or stow-away mechanism that allows it to tuck into the top of the dash. Although the screen is rather small, the touch-screen unit has one of the nicest, highest contrast screens—and, we believe, it's still the cheapest model with a screen-based nav system.

Altogether, the price of the 2010 Sportback is $18,684, including destination and all of those features. A lower-price five-door hatch cuts out many of those features, including the sport suspension, which we thought quite ideal. To compare, a Honda Fit with electronic stability control and the navigation system (both included with the SportBack) is just below $20,000.

But again, it's tough to sum up all of the SX4's appeal in features, specs, and numbers. At least at city speeds, the SX4 tracks and handles with a secure, almost hefty that some might prefer. There's something about the way the SX4 bounds over the big bumps, with a secure, rattle-free, unflustered feel, that give it a reassuring solidity.

If you want a really well equipped, energetic, solid little car and you're not going to be irked by getting less than 30 mpg, the 2010 SX4 Sportback has a whole lot of appeal.

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