Talented Suzuki SX4 S-Cross succeeds in many roles
- Credit: Suzuki
Suzuki's new SX4 S-Cross has all the hallmarks of a flexible family holdall, a low-cost company car or even an affordable Motability option, says Iain Dooley of the Press Association.
Suzuki is probably more famous for motorcycles than cars. However, with the considerable improvements made to its range of four-wheeled products in recent years, it is now experiencing the glow of mainstream recognition.
Its modest-looking Swift is a perfect example of how Suzuki's current approach to car building has paid off. Getting more things right than wrong, the compact hatch Swift is easy on the eye, well equipped, keenly priced and easy to live with.
Keen to turn up the heat on its new-found closest rivals, Suzuki is going after the likes of Nissan's Qashqai with its SX4 S-Cross and also looking to increase its footprint in both the business-user and Motability markets.
Making the switch from high-rise original SX4 hatch to full-blown compact sport utility vehicle was, in light of the rapid growth in the compact SUV market, an easy decision for Suzuki to take. This latest SX4 has grown in size to become a genuine family holdall and, according to its maker, boasts enough boot space to trump the efforts of many of its closest rivals.
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In a departure from Suzuki's past approach to equipping its cars, this SX4 is the first to offer built-in sat-nav and DAB digital radio. There's also a full-length dual aperture glass roof on selected models – a clever lifestyle touch that's also unique to the SX4.
Beneath the SX4's streamlined exterior and five-seat layout buyers can choose 120bhp 1.6-litre petrol and diesel engines. In front-wheel drive trim the cars emit 127g/km and 110g/km CO2 respectively. And it's as a result of the low diesel CO2 figure that Suzuki hopes to attract more than a few company car users.
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Adding a few grams of CO2 is the SX4's all-wheel drive option, a user-friendly system offering an auto mode alongside a sport and winter setting. Still, in diesel trim the SX4's 114g/km figure remains low, and likely to appeal to rural buyers seeking a low-cost, high-grip compact family car.
If most of your driving is in town, Suzuki has that covered with a CVT auto gearbox for the petrol variant. Unlike old continuously variable gearboxes this one is smoother, better able to keep up with throttle inputs and rarely allows the engine's revs to race too high. If you need an auto SX4 this is no compromise.
On the road the SX4 displays all the Suzuki trademarks – safe and secure handling, good levels of cabin refinement, easily-adjustable driving position and good all-round visibility. The diesel engine delivers greater flexibility and performance than the petrol unit, making it a sound choice for buyers who cover many miles on a variety of roads.
For low-mileage motorists the petrol unit is quieter at urban speeds, and while it lacks the outright performance of its diesel counterpart, there's no doubting its ability to dispatch the school or supermarket run with ease. After all, there's no shortage of boot space for the latter – all 430 and 875 litres of it with the rear seats up or down.
With four generously-equipped trim levels, including a company car-friendly variant complete with Bluetooth and sat-nav, Suzuki isn't holding back in its bid to steal sales from its rivals. This is abundantly clear in the SX4's base specification, which includes alloy wheels, seven airbags, air-con, cruise control, stability control and heated mirrors.
Factor in the intelligent all-wheel drive system, low CO2 diesel performance, an auto gearbox option plus a roomy, tasteful and robust cabin and you've got all the hallmarks of a flexible family holdall, a low-cost company car or even an affordable Motability option. Proof, if you needed it, that the SX4's versatility mirrors that of its maker.