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  • 2008 Suzuki SX4 Sport

    Posted on March 13th, 2008 ninarussin

    Super value sport compact car
    By Nina Russin

    Suzuki SX4 Sport

    Suzuki SX4 Sport

    Sustainable cars come in small packages. The Suzuki SX4 Sport, based on the Suzuki Swift, is a compact car that costs under $15,000 for the base grade, and averages 28 miles-per-gallon. It isn’t especially luxurious: all grades come with cloth trim, a two-liter four-cylinder engine, and choice of five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission.

    But standard equipment includes almost everything the first-time buyer needs: antilock brakes, side and side curtain airbags, air conditioning, power windows, locks and heated side mirrors, cruise control, and a MP3 compatible audio system.

    The upscale touring package adds standard electronic stability control, an upgraded 6-CD audio system and keyless start. iPod and Bluetooth connectivity are dealer-installed options, adding hands-free cell phone operation, and the ability to control iPod playlists through steering wheel-mounted audio controls.

    The SX4 doesn’t pollute much because it doesn’t burn much gas. It meets LEV2 BIN5 standards. And since it runs just fine on 87 octane fuel, it doesn’t burn too much cash at the gas pump. Suzuki’s standard 7-year 100,000 mile warranty is fully transferable, boosting the car’s resale appeal.

    Best of all, the SX4 Sport is fun to drive. Suzuki’s talent is in infusing its small cars with the nimble, spirited performance of its motorcycles. Engineers kept the SX4’s curb weight light, and made seventeen inch wheels standard, so it stays flat in the turns. With a wheelbase just over 98 inches, it’s nothing to park. Move a Hummer out of the way, and you can park two SX4 Sports in the same spot.

    A hundred miles on a quarter tank of gas

    A fuel meter in the SX4’s instrument panel displays real-time fuel economy numbers. Even on cold mornings, the engine heats up to operating temperature in about two minutes. After that, it’s not unusual for the car to average about thirty miles-per-gallon while cruising on city streets.

    While it doesn’t have the acceleration of a sports car, there’s enough power in the twenty-to- fifty range to make merging into highway traffic a non-issue. The four-speed automatic transmission hunts more than a five speed would, and there is some shift shock. The gate shifter on the center console makes it easier to change gears without taking one’s eyes off the road.

    Steering response is better than average at all speeds. One advantage of driving a smaller car is the ability to maneuver through traffic. The SX4 does it well, with good visibility to the sides and rear, and a suspension tuned for harder driving.

    I found the triangular windows in front annoying: they obstruct visibility, to the sides, and seem to serve no practical purpose. Perhaps they were a cost cutting measure in the manufacturing. Heated side mirrors included in the convenience package are handy on cold mornings: they clear the frost off the surfaces quickly. Intermittent wipers and a rear window defroster are standard equipment on all models.

    The SX4 Sport sits slightly lower than the Crossover, so it has a lower center of gravity. That in combination with the seventeen-inch wheels and low profile tires keeps the chassis flat. Electronic stability program is available as part of the touring option package: it uses braking and traction control to keep the front-wheel drive car from pushing in the corners, or skidding on slippery roads.

    Versatile interior

    I was surprised by how much head and shoulder room second-row passengers have in this relatively small car. Legroom is adequate if the front passengers are willing to move their seats forward. The standard cloth upholstery is attractive and practical. The driver’s seat has good lower lumbar support. A tilt steering wheel allows shorter drivers to maintain clear forward visibility.

    The gauges are well laid out and easy to read, with red backlighting at night. The standard audio system includes an AM/FM radio, CD player and MP3 plug-in. All models are pre-wired for XM satellite radio. The touring package includes an upgraded 360-watt, nine-speaker audio system. Steering wheel mounted audio controls come with the convenience package.

    All four doors have molded in bottle holders. There are two cupholders in front and one in the rear: all large enough to hold water bottles. One thing missing from the center console is a storage bin. There are a couple of small shelves in the center stack for stashing CDs and small electronic devices. The glovebox is large enough to hold the owner’s manual and some documents, but not much else. There are map pockets in the front doors.

    A twelve-volt power point in the center stack is handy for recharging cell phones.

    Spacious trunk

    The SX4 Sport’s trunk is surprisingly large and deep for a compact car. It isn’t big enough for a bicycle, but I was able to load large cartons inside with ease. Those who plan to carry bicycles regularly might be better served by the Crossover model.

    Standard safety

    Antilock brakes, front, side and side curtain airbags are standard on all models. Front seatbelts with pretensioners are adjustable for drivers and passengers of different heights. There are three-point belts in three rear seating positions, but the car is too narrow for more than two to ride in the back seat comfortably.

    All Suzuki cars come with a great warranty: good for seven years or 100,000 miles and fully transferable. The warranty includes free roadside assistance cars and free loaner cars when the vehicle is being repaired.

    The pint-sized SX4 is on display at Suzuki dealerships nationwide.

    Likes: The SX4 offers value-conscious shoppers a lot for the money, with a high level of standard safety, comfort and convenience features. The two-liter four cylinder engine has plenty of power and low-end torque for average city driving: a sport-tuned suspension and standard seventeen-inch wheels provide good steering feedback at all speeds. Fuel economy is excellent, averaging about 28 miles-per-gallon for combined city and highway driving.

    Dislikes: The triangular front window obstructs visibility to the front of the car, especially when cornering.

    Quick facts:

    Make: Suzuki
    Model: SX4 Sport FWD
    Year: 2008
    Base price: $14,770
    As tested: $16,370
    Horsepower: 143 Hp @ 5800 rpm
    Torque: 136 lbs.-ft. @ 3500 rpm
    Zero-to-sixty: N/A
    Bicycle friendly: No
    Off-road: No
    Towing: No
    Antilock brakes: Standard
    Side curtain airbags: Standard
    First aid kit: Not available
    Comments: Base price does not include a $625 destination/handling charge.

     

    38 responses to “2008 Suzuki SX4 Sport”

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