2008 Suzuki SX4 Sport
2008 Suzuki SX4 Sport. Click image to enlarge
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Review and photos by Peter Bleakney

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2008 Suzuki SX4

Toronto, Ontario – If you’re going play in the same sandbox as the Honda Civic, Mazda3 and Toyota Corolla, you’d better have something that sets you apart from this crowd of perennial heavy hitters. And with the recent joy to be found at the fuel pumps, the competition in this segment is only going to get tougher.

Suzuki’s strategy with the $18,995 2008 SX4 Sport Sedan is hit ’em with some funky styling, offer a spacious interior, and bring lots of toys.

New for 2008, this car is a sedan version of the SX4 hatch. While the hatch is available with all-wheel drive, the sedan is front-drive only. Stylistically, the add-a-trunk-to-me works quite well. The SX4 Sedan is tall for its class (110 mm taller than a Civic), with a cheerfully aggressive snout flowing up to a large raked windshield. From the side, the SX4 has a pleasingly wedgy profile completed by the large trunk.

2008 Suzuki SX4 Sport
2008 Suzuki SX4 Sport
2008 Suzuki SX4 Sport
2008 Suzuki SX4 Sport. Click image to enlarge

I especially like the cool fixed front quarter-windows.

The SX4 Sport Sedan, which costs an additional $1,800 over the base car, gets a visual boost with a tasteful body kit, body-coloured mirrors and door handles, fog lamps and 17-inch alloys.

The tall greenhouse pays dividends in interior room. You sit high in this car (the seats are not height-adjustable), and the driving position is less “sport” and more “mini crossover”. Not a bad thing. With the doors opening at almost 90 degrees, ingress is a breeze. Outward visibility is exemplary and there’s enough headroom for a ten-gallon hat. I loved the XXL rear-view mirrors. Back seat room is surprisingly good too, but the seats don’t flip forward, so the large 439-litre trunk can’t be expanded.

The simple yet functional interior, dressed up with some tasteful metallic accents, has a high quality look. The dash and door panel tops feature a grained plastic that appears for all the world like the soft-touch stuff found in high-end vehicles – except it’s rock hard to the touch. So don’t touch it. Sadly, the arm rest on the door is similarly unyielding to the flesh, and that you can’t avoid.

The fabric seats are comfy and supportive however, and the Sport’s leather steering wheel with audio and cruise functions (tilt but no telescope) feels good in the hands. The driving position is a bit unusual in that the shifter is way down low, and the pedals are close for those long of leg. That said, I adapted quickly and never felt uncomfortable.

Out on the road, this little sedan continues to impress. I must confess, having not driven a Suzuki for about a decade, I expected it to be a tin box. Far from it; the SX4 feels solid and substantial, with a compliant ride and very little wind noise on the highway. With the tall fifth gear, the tach shows 3,100 r.p.m. at 120 km/h.

All the better to hear the standard eight-speaker (with sub woofer) AM/FM/six-disc CD/WMA/MP3 audio with auxiliary input- a bonus in this class of vehicle.

2008 Suzuki SX4 Sport
2008 Suzuki SX4 Sport
2008 Suzuki SX4 Sport. Click image to enlarge

On the down side, this short wheelbase sedan tends to pitch on rough surfaces. Steering is nicely direct and the handling competent, but I wouldn’t call it sporty as the high centre of gravity and compliant underpinnings gives it a slightly tippy disposition.

Like the SX4 hatch, the sedan is powered by a 143-hp, 136 lb.-ft. 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, while the four-speed auto is a $1,100 option.

The four-banger is willing and makes a nice little snarl when pushed, but you’ll find most of the work will be done in the midrange – it doesn’t spin like a Honda engine. Nor is it as efficient. With a rating of 9.5 L/100 km city and 6.8 highway, it’s on the high side for this class of vehicle. I saw 7.9 L/100 over a week of largely highway driving.
If you like to row your own gears, the SX4 Sedan Sport M/T makes a fine ally. Clutch action is smooth and progressive and the short-throw shifter snicks into gears with precision.

Kudos to Suzuki for providing six airbags as standard equipment, along with ABS brakes with Brake Assist and EDB (electronic brake distribution) with all SX4 sedans. The Sport adds four-wheel disc brakes.

2008 Suzuki SX4 Sport
2008 Suzuki SX4 Sport. Click image to enlarge

Other standard features include air conditioning (with automatic climate control for Sport models), a dash-mounted information display (fuel consumption, clock, outside temperature), power windows, cruise control (Sport), power door locks with remote entry, and power mirrors (driver’s side heated with Sport).

Suzuki has armed this stylish Japanese-built sedan for battle, and it makes for a compelling entry in this hotly contested segment. During my week behind the wheel, the SX4’s cheerful disposition, quality interior and overall level of comfort proved endearing qualities indeed. If Suzuki added a flip down rear seat and squeezed more efficiency from the engine (direct injection?) they’d have a home run.

Pricing: 2008 Suzuki SX4 Sedan Sport

Base price: $18,995
Options: None
A/C tax: $100

Freight: $1,250
Price as tested: $20,345
Click here for options, dealer invoice prices and factory incentives

Specifications
  • Specifications: 2008 Suzuki SX4

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