For pasture or tar driving
BRIAN BASSETT drives the wilds of Howick in the new Suzuki SX4 GLX manual
RECENTLY I spent two weeks in Hermanus, a delightful coastal holiday village in the Western Cape.
Before leaving I drove the new Suzuki SX4 GLX Manual courtesy of Gary Stokes, dealer principal of Suzuki Fury in the city.
The SX4 has never appeared to me to be a particularly popular car in the Midlands, as you do not see many of them.
But as I found in the past two weeks, this is because SX4 owners largely hang out in Hermanus.
The SX4 is to Hermanus what the Honda Jazz is to Howick.
I dutifully took several photographs of SX4 convoys in the village with my new digital camera and then came home, pressed the wrong button and erased all of my holiday photographs, which speaks volumes about my technical skills.
The latest SX4 model introduced in 2014 is much bigger and better than its predecessor and has grown up.
It added 16,5 cm to the cabin and 1 cm in width, which does not sound much, but all adds up.
The swept-back lines of the exterior, rising to a high roofline before cutting down to a well-designed rear end looks elegant while the redesigned front end with its LED-option headlight clusters and fog lights project an image of rugged practicality in an enjoyable aesthetic.
The side mirrors fold back and the design is neatly finished off by the 17-inch diamond polished alloy wheels.
The interior is typically Suzuki. Simple, robust, easy to use and spacious, easily accommodating five adults easily.
The seats fold down rather like those in the Honda Jazz and storage space increases from a generous 463 litres with all seats in place to a massive 1 269 litres with the seats down.
Interior finishes are excellent and the seat coverings will easily shake off the daily wear and tear of the school run and weekends of mountain biking.
The central stack houses an good six-speaker, MP3 compatible, CD, Aux sound system with Bluetooth and an effective air conditioner, which features a pollen filter.
The windows are all electric with child locks at the rear. The three-spoke leather- covered typically Suzuki steering wheel is multi-function and handles amongst others radio, cruise control and hands-free phone switches. Driver controls are a mixture of digital and analogue, are easy to read and provide all the driver information required
Safety and security
The Suzuki SX4 has a five-star Euro Ncap rating, thanks to seven airbags, including a knee bag for the driver for all- round protection.
Hill Hold Assist, ABS with EBD, an electronic stability program, with front and rear parking sensors list among the active driving aids. No wonder the Hermanus oldies love the car, they can do almost anything stupid and have a good chance of survival! There is also the usual internal security system
Performance and handling
The SX4 is an inviting car to drive with a confident and comfortable ride.
The two-litre engine in the previous model has been replaced by a more responsive 1,6 litre that makes 86 kW and 156 Nm. The 0-100 km/h dash will take you around 11 seconds but the SX4 is made for cruising, not racing and it will take you and your family almost anywhere you want to go and drink for about 7 l/100 km en route.
Thanks to ground clearance of 185 mm (175 mm on the base model), the SX4 easily straddles rutted Jeep-tracks and is as happy on gravel as it is on tar.
In town the SX4 is easy to manoeuvre in traffic and shopping centre parking lots will never scare you again.
Pricing and opposition
The entry model comes in at around R269 000, while the CLX I drove costs around R299 000 and is the model I would recommend.
The Allgrip (AWD) will cost you R323 000, with an auto gearbox it comes in at R345 000.
There is a 100 000km/threeyear manufacturer’s warranty and six-year anti-corrosion cover as well as a three-year 90 000km service plan and a roadside assistance plan.
This is small-ute/cross-over market is heavily contested and you will do well to also look at the Nissan Qashqai, Renault Captur and Peugeot 2008.
The Suzuki SX4 is as happy on gravel and grass as it is on tar.