Despite struggling to find a niche in the traditional family car market, Japanese manufacturer Suzuki has had considerable success in the 4x4 market. First with the 'SJ' and then later with 'Jimmy' and 'Vitara' models; Suzuki have created a winning combination of smaller bodied SUV styled 4x4 cars. In its latest incarnation the concept takes a step back from all-wheel drive introducing a distinctive hatchback design and only one model of the range featuring 4x4 capabilities.
The Suzuki SX4 was born from the marriage of Fiat engine know-how combined with Japanese design. Suzuki needed a diesel engine to complete its range and found one with Fiat who offered their Hungarian manufacturing base in return for a share of the design copyright. Both General Motors owned companies invested and 60,000 units were built. Thus the Fiat range was complimented by 20,000 units of the new Sedici and Suzuki assembled the remainder into their SX4 range.
Bang for your buck
The SX4 features a custom designed shell from Italdesign featuring two distinct variations of the car. The 4GRIP model is most clearly an SUV style car and features unique side protection mouldings and unique wheel arch flairs. The GLX range is a passenger variant emphasising safety and space. However, neither car is a true 4x4 and was not designed with the same off-road capabilities as cars such as the Land Rover Freelander
or Nissan X-trail
. Its selling points are its elevated driving position, fully adjustable driving seat and flexible steering wheel position. A deep windscreen gives the Suzuki SX4 a powerful driving position, offering the driver excellent visibility and a commanding view of the road. Optional extras include front and rear electric windows, manual air conditioning, steering wheel mounted entertainment controls, alloy wheels and fog lights.
The approved used Suzuki SX4 does not come with a lot of bling inside; a standard CD radio is the height of its sophistication. However, you are buying a workhorse and the cockpit installation has been designed with functionality in mind. Although it will never have the wow factor of some modern cars, what you get is an interior which is built to last way beyond its warranty period.
What you'll pay
Used car prices for the Suzuki SX4 are good. There are plenty of cars on the SUV/4X4 market which has helped to keep prices down. Prices start at around £6,000 for the GL model on 2006 plate, but buyers should beware that they are not buying a four wheel drive model. The 4GRIP model featuring all-wheel drive and three driver operated 4x4 modes; weighs in at around £7,500 pounds for an 06 plate, but prices will rise for newer models and custom options.
What to check
The Suzuki SX4 for sale is well built and hardy, however it is marketed as an off road vehicle and this can lead to some driver abuse. Check the suspension and exhaust unit carefully for signs of overzealous rock hopping. In addition, check the wheels for excessive wear on one side which could indicate alignment or steering issues. In 4x4 models you should make sure to check that the driver switch-able traction controls all operate correctly.
Prices are average and with Suzuki being an established brand they are readily available. Spark plugs can be found for £7 each; brake pads are cheap at around £40 a pair and oil and fuel filters are less than £15 each.
How it drives
Two engine options are available to the UK market; a petrol based 1.6 litre engine that outputs 107bhp and a Fiat designed 1.9 litre Diesel. The diesel engine in particular offers an acceptable economy/power ratio, delivering 120bph and 45mpg. In addition, it can achieve good acceleration hitting sixty from standing in around 10.5 seconds.
In its basic form, it's a no-frills motor and some find the ride a little harsh. Combined with solid steering, it does give enough response to inspire confidence in cornering and drivers will be rewarded with a fun drive. However, the handling on higher specification 4x4 models can be altered and customised by the driver to give a bespoke driving experience. Many choose to leave the traction control set to default which utilises the front wheels for normal driving and engages the lock system to operate all-wheel drive should you happen upon any rough ground.
While it does not excel at anything it does do a number of things well, combined with good looks and an excellent driving position and the ability to go off-road. Many will see the Suzuki SX4 as the natural step in-between family road car and 4x4.