Suzuki SX4 S-Cross 1.6
SX4 is equally at home in town or out in the countryside
- Good on-road ride backed up by feeling of stability off road
- Lofty driving position makes the SX4 S-Cross feel more like a mini-MPV
- Spacious cabin makes car ideal for a growing family
- All-wheel drive technology works well
- Some cabin plastics feel hard and hollow to the touch
- 1.6 petrol engine can sound harsh when asked to work hard
- Some minor switchgear could be of better quality
- Yet another small soft-roader - there's potential for model overlap and buyers could get confused
Unlike so many other lifestyle 'soft-roaders', Suzuki's SX4 S-Cross is not all talk. The car with the lofty driving position boasts the option of a clever part-time four-wheel drive system that actually works. It's also pitched as a versatile alternative to the conventional family hatchback.
After a few years in the wilderness, Suzuki is starting to offer a range of well thought out small cars. The small hatch is a car the Japanese company is synonymous with - it's a model that helped to make the firm what it is today.
Following in the footsteps of the Alto, Swift and previous generation SX4, the SX4 S-Cross is another Suzuki punching above its weight. This time it's something offering more than just jaunty looks, an attractive sticker price and practical cabin.
The SX4's off-roader looks are, for once, no con - the car really has been designed to tackle the slippery stuff. Granted it's no Land Rover, but the trick powertrain boasts a switchable all-wheel drive system. Selected in the cabin, you can opt for front-wheel, part time four wheel or permanent all wheel drive.
The SX4 is also good at tackling the mundane urban routine stuff, too. The car's practical cabin, lofty driving position and willing engine range offer city drivers ample performance and practicality. In fact, this city is where most of the cars will likely live.
Our verdict on the Suzuki SX4 S-Cross 1.6
The SX4 S-Cross is a good example of lateral thinking from the Suzuki. The option of a proper four-wheel drive system and the inclusion of 'urban off-roader' styling means it should appeal to both city types and more adventurous buyers. There are a few rough edges, but to complain too loudly would be to miss the point about the SX4 and its position in the market.
Considering what the SX4 can offer - all -wheel drive, spacious cabin, proven mechanicals, raised driving position - it's pretty good value for money. Running costs should also be good, as the car is based on proven mechanicals, while insurance and fuel bills should be equally low.
Space and practicality
The SX4's spacious cabin should easily accommodate a small family, and there are enough oddment storage areas to keep loose change, mobile phones and drinks cans. At the rear, the back seats boast a 60/40 split and fold to liberate extra bootspace. The boot itself is a good size, but there is a small load lip to negotiate when removing heavy items. At least the car's seat fabrics appear hardwearing.
Controls and display
The SX4's cabin is a simple one, and this is reflected in the car's instruments. The main dials are large and clear, while the fascia controls are well spaced out and easy to use. The standard audio unit is also straightforward, and the control to select two or four wheel drive is just as intuitive.
The car's seats are firm but largely supportive. During normal driving conditions only a little engine and road noise enters the cabin, although the former increases substantially when you make the 1.6 petrol engine work hard. Being a tall car, there's plenty of headroom in the cabin, plus good levels of legroom.
Although not a high value car, it's good to see the SX4 fitted with remote central locking and an immobiliser as standard. While highly visible, the car's audio unit is a unique fit and a theft deterrent in its own right. You might want to add an even more visible warning, such as a steering lock, for good measure.
All cars boast a good level of safety features, such as stability control, child seat anchor points and airbags. Don't forget the four-wheel drive system which, when left in auto mode, could prove invaluable on slippery or wet roads.
When viewed as a family runabout, the SX4 acquits itself well to urban life. Ride comfort is good and road imperfections are dealt with efficiently, while the car's steering is light enough so as not to make parking a chore. At motorway speeds the car does a good job but no more - it's not really built for speed. Investigate its off-roading skills and you will be impressed, though. If you regularly partake in outdoor activities, the car's switchable drive system could prove a deal-clincher.
Family car appeal
Although not being marketed as a direct competitor to the likes of conventional family hatchbacks and compact people carriers, the SX4 does offer useful attributes from both sectors. For its size, the car offers a spacious and practical cabin, enough room for children in the back and an accommodating rear loadspace. It should also be economical to run - especially in diesel-powered trim
First car appeal
There's no reason why the SX4 shouldn't be considered as a first car. It's easy to drive, isn't particularly fast or intimidating and boasts good levels of visibility thanks to its raised driving position. It's practical too, and should prove economical to run.
Quality and image
Recent years have seen sales grow and the brand garner considerable amounts of positive press and respect, all thanks to a revitalised range of compact, affordable cars. There's nothing flash about the interiors of its cars but Suzuki has succeeded in producing an expanding range of value for money products - SX4 included.
Although boasting a lofty driving position, the SX4's cabin isn't difficult to access. Doors (both fore and aft) open wide to help make access easier. There's a slight step up into the cabin, but it's less than in a regular compact suburban off-roader. At the rear, the SX4's tailgate requires little effort to raise or lower, and the load lip is at a sensible height.
Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)
The standard set-up includes a good sounding four-speaker radio and single CD system. The unit is easy to reach and operate. Models dependent steering wheel mounted controls prove useful, and the SX4 can be specified with a sat-nav system - a first for Suzuki.
Colours and trim
Bold, bright exterior colours work best, as they help to highlight the car's youthful appeal. Inside it's a little more sensible, with dark plastic the dominant feature. The seats look hardwearing, which fits well with the Suzuki's proposed family role.
A modest car by modern standards, parking the SX4 shouldn't pose any problems. The lofty driving position assists fore and aft visibility, while the car's steering is pleasingly light at low speeds.
Space saver fitted as standard.
Petrol engine options - 1.6-litre (120bhp). Diesel engine options - 1.6-litre (120bhp). Transmission options: five-speed manual (petrol), CVT (petrol), six-speed manual (diesel). Trim levels: SZ3, SZ4, SZ-T, SZ5.
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