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Motoring: Suzuki Crossover worth the price

Nauman Farooq | Interrobang | Sports | April 14th, 2008

Two months ago, I tested the Suzuki SX4 sedan and greatly enjoyed it. I liked it so much I called it my logical car of the year.

Having bestowed it with that honour I was curious to find out if the hatchback version would be as good as the sedan. The one thing that really sets the SX4 sedan apart from the Crossover (apart from the body) is that the Crossover version is available with an all-wheel drive system, while the Sedan comes only as a front-wheel drive.

In fact, when you look at the details on the Crossover like its raised ride height, roof racks, and the before mentioned all-wheel drive system, this is really a mini SUV.

Having just lived with one for a week, I can honestly say that it is better than any SUV I have ever had in winter conditions. The narrow tires cut through snow better than big fat tires, and because it has power going to each wheel you won't get stuck anywhere. If you are in a really muddy field you can lock the differential and then it can climb (or crawl) out of any situation.

So if you are looking into getting a small SUV, don't. The SX4 will give you all the functionality of an SUV with more comfort, better handling and a lower price tag.

So it's a great little car, but how does it compete with its Sedan sibling?

From the outside, both the Sedan and Crossover versions look smart, but I have to say I prefer the Sedans styling as it looks sportier.

The interior is almost identical between the two versions, and both versions are missing map pockets behind the seats. Apart from that minor oversight, the interior is quite good. There is plenty of space in front and back. Plus the quality of the fit and finish is top notch. I also love the simple and easy to use centre console and the attractive red dials staring back at you.

Then there is the stereo. A stereo like you find in the SX4 would be at home in a $50,000 car, but to find it in a car costing under $20,000 is fantastic.

Suzuki really did their homework when designing this car. They even got the engine and transmission just right. Like its Sedan sibling it has a wonderful little 2.0-litre, 16-valve, four-cylinder unit, which produces 143hp and 136 lb/ft of torque.

You can either have that mated to a five-speed manual gearbox or a four-speed automatic. My test car had the automatic, and I loved it. This automatic does not have any manual override features to select your own gears but that doesn't matter because the gearbox is smooth and responsive and makes good use of the cars power. Sure this is not a road-legal rocket, like some of Suzuki's motorbikes, but the SX4 does the job very well indeed.

I even liked its handling, mostly because of its brilliant steering feel. Honestly, turning the wheel on this little Suzuki reminds me of the steering feel offered by the Bentley Continental GT and no I am not making this up.

So it looks like this little car can do no wrong, but the Crossover version is not perfect. First of all, the trunk is not huge so the sedan does have the edge there. However if you fold down the rear-seats the Crossover does become very practical.

The only other complaint I had was with fuel economy. I averaged 9-litres/100km in the Sedan, but could not do any better than 11-litres/100km on an urban cycle with the Crossover.

The pricing is not bad. A base SX4 crossover is just $17,195. My fully loaded test car was about $25,000. That is not bad at all when you look at all the features you get for your money.

I really hope this car succeeds in the marketplace because it surely deserves it.
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