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2008 Suzuki SX4 Sport Compact Economy Sedan

Suzuki SX4 Sport Overview

The Suzuki SX4 Sport compact sedan was introduced in 2006 as a replacement for the Aerio (which replaced the Swift.) The SX4 was developed and produced as a joint venture between Suzuki and Fiat, and was originally intended for sale in Europe. The Fiat product is called Sedici. The SX4 is also offered as a Crossover wagon.

The Suzuki SX4 Sport compact economy sedan may not be the most prestigious Japanese car on North American roads, but it is among the best values. The SX4 is Suzuki's highest priced sedan. When equipped with a manual transmission the base Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) is $15,395, with an invoice of $14,804. The SX4 with an automatic transmission has an MSRP of $16,495, and an invoice price of $15,860. These prices are a bargain when compared to Japanese-made competitors, as well as the similarly-sized Korean-made products. For example, a comparably equipped Toyota Corolla has an MSRP of $15,065 to $17,075, while a Nissan Sentra is $16,455 to $20,885.

The SX4 Sport has no trim levels, but there are two preset option packages available. The first is the Convenience Package. It adds desirable amenities such as cruise control and air conditioning with automatic climate control. This package also features a leather-wrapped steering wheel with integrated audio controls and heated outside mirrors -- and while these may seem like convenience features they really are safety features. Adding the Convenience package increases the price by $500 MSRP and $480 Invoice.

The Suzuki SX4 Touring Package adds luxury features found on much more expensive cars. To keep you entertained there is a six-disc CD player with an upgraded 380-watt audio system with nine speakers including a subwoofer (for booming bass.) Styling upgrades include fog lamps and a rear spoiler. To keep you safe in an emergency the Touring Package includes an Electronic Stability Program with traction control. The Touring Package includes a fantastic security feature, the SmartPass keyless entry and start system. It makes getting into the car fast and free of fumbling for keys. This package also includes air conditioning with climate control, heated outside mirrors, and cruise control. The Touring Package increases the MSRP by $1,500 and the Invoice by $1,440.

Competitors to the Suzuki SX4 include Chevy Cobalt, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, Kia Spectra, Mazda3, Nissan Sentra, Subaru Impreza, and Toyota Corolla.

Suzuki SX4 Sport Exterior

The exterior was designed by the well-known Italian automotive design firm Italdesign Studios owned by Giorgetto Giugiaro. Italdesign has penned cars for such notable brands as Alfa Romeo, Audi, BMW, Bugatti, Ferrari, Ford, Lamborghini, Lexus, Lotus, Maserati, Renault, Saab and Volkswagen, to name a few.

The SX4 design has a more rounded shape than its competitors. The car's profile has a low, rising waistline that gives it a single arc from the front bumper, over the roofline, to a rear deck with a short truck lid. The SX4 has large, triangular-shaped windows -- reminiscent of old-fashioned wind-wing windows -- ahead of the front doors. They added an extra set of front pillars to form these small windows, which cause problematic blinds spots that make it difficult to see the front corners of the car. We found ourselves leaning forward to see where the car was headed when turning. This is a problematic feature that won't be easy for an owner to get used to.

The wide stance and standard 17" alloy wheels housed in flared fenders add to the sporty appearance.

Suzuki SX4 Sport Interior

The interior of the Suzuki SX4 is as comfortable as any car in its class, and offers better design than most competitors. Certainly the SX4 has less weird styling cues than the Nissan Sentra. A tight cowl on the dashboard houses the instrument cluster with three overlapping circular gauges. To the left is the tachometer, in the center is the speedometer and the circle on the right has the fuel, oil and warning displays. The center stack contains the standard AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system with four speakers. The Touring Package offers a six-disc, in-dash CD AM/FM/MP3 audio system with nine speakers (including subwoofer). Both audio systems are XM Satellite Radio-capable and require a subscription to the service. Most SX4 customers will want the convenience of a fully-integrated iPod2 system, and an interface is available as an option from the dealer.

The SX4 offers both utility and style along with seating for five adults. Driver and passenger comfort is very good for a compact car because of the large cabin proportions. The seats are remarkably comfortable for a car in its price range, and they are positioned higher than those in most compact sedans for better visibility -- more like small SUVs such as the Toyota RAV4 or Honda CRX -- making getting in and out of the vehicle more comfortable.

The spacious interior provides both driver and passengers with room to relax, and there is ample leg and shoulder room, even for the rear-seat passengers. The Suzuki SX4 Sport has more headroom than the Toyota Corolla. And the interior is larger overall than the Toyota Corolla, Hyundai Elantra, Kia Spectra or the Nissan Sentra.

Suzuki SX4 Sport Performance

The Suzuki SX4 Sport sedan is equipped with a 143-horsepower, 2.0-liter, inline four-cylinder, 16-valve Dual Overhead Cam (DOHC) engine with 136 lb-ft of torque. This is more power than what comes standard in competitive products like the Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, Kia Spectra, Nissan Sentra and Toyota Corolla. The engine performance of the SX4 isn’t anything to write home about – but neither is engine performance from any competitor -- but the car climbs steep hills without the need to down shift. The engine is matched to a five-speed manual transmission or an optional, specially tuned, four-speed automatic transmission. Our test car had the manual and it shifted gears as smoothly as any Japanese car.

The car has a "zero maintenance" timing chain, which is important because a broken one means huge repair bills.

The SX4 has poor fuel mileage compared to other cars in the segment. The numbers are 22 MPG in the city and 30 on the highway for the automatic. The manual transmission version gets 23 MPG in the city, and 31 on the highway.

Suzuki SX4 Sport Ride and Handling

The Suzuki SX4 Sport shares some key design elements with the Suzuki Swift. The car features a rigid steel unibody construction. The SX4 chassis was tuned in Europe to provide good stability on the highway along with responsive handling and braking with minimal body roll. The car has a rigid structure with reinforced suspension mounts. It has front MacPherson struts and rear torsion beam suspension. The sedan's sport-tuned suspension has a 10mm (0.4 inch) lower ride height than to the SX4 Crossover. KYB performance shocks and standard stabilizer bars deliver good, responsive handling. The combination of a wide track and large 17" wheels with low profile 50 Series tires help optimize the ride-and-handling balance. The exterior dimensions provide outstanding maneuverability for crowded city streets and parking areas.

SX4 comes standard with Speed Sensitive power steering -- something you find on much higher end cars like BMWs -- and is not available on the competition. The sedan has four-wheel disc brakes, a preferable configuration to the front disc and rear drum brake combinations on the Honda Civic, Nissan Sentra and Toyota Corolla.

Suzuki SX4 Sport Safety

The Suzuki SX4 has a lot of standard safety features that help make it a good choice. There is a full compliment of airbags including dual-stage front airbags, front seat mounted side-impact airbags and side-curtain airbags for front and rear seat passengers.

Passive safety features in the Suzuki SX4 include a reinforced body with impact door beams and front and rear crumple zones. The unibody structure is designed to direct impact energy away from the reinforced cabin area.

SX4 is equipped with four-wheel, anti-lock brakes with Electronic Brake-Force Distribution to help stop the car safely in an emergency. These features are optional on the Nissan Sentra. One of the most common safety problems are under-inflated tires. The Suzuki SX4 has a tire pressure monitoring system that warns you when the tires are low on air. This feature is not offered on the Hyundai Elantra or Toyota Corolla,

The Suzuki SX4 has an acceptable safety rating. In National Highway Safety Administration NHTSA crash tests, the car earned four out of five stars in the frontal crash test for the driver and front passenger. SX4 was awarded a four star rating in side-impact crash tests for the front seat passengers and a five star rating for the rear seat passengers. The Suzuki SX4 got a four star rating in the rollover crash test. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not published any crash test ratings for the car as of the posting of this article.

Suzuki SX4 Sport Conclusion

The Suzuki SX4 Sport is the least expensive car in a highly competitive segment and in many ways beats the Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, Nissan Sentra and Toyota Corolla for horsepower, interior room and standard features. Suzuki SX4 is fun to drive and doesn't feel underpowered. Fuel mileage is just below that of the competition. The slightly less efficient Suzuki will wind up having a higher cost of ownership but it will be offset a bit by having a lower new car price.

The Suzuki SX4 comes with a 100,000-mile/seven-year, fully transferable, zero-deductible powertrain limited warranty. Coverage extends to the engine, transmission, transfer case, and front- and rear-wheel-drive systems beyond the 36,000-mile new-vehicle limited warranty. All Suzuki warranties are designed to boost customer satisfaction and trade-in value while underscoring Suzuki's confidence in product quality. The warranty term is shorter than Kia and Hyundai's but it covers the same amount of miles. However Suzuki's coverage is more than twice as long as the warranties of Honda, Nissan or Toyota.

Suzuki SX4 Sport Pros: Lowest cost of entry to the compact segment, more horsepower than the competition, more interior room, more headroom, good warranty, good crash test ratings.

Suzuki SX4 Sport Cons:Bad blind spots in the front and rear. Lowest gas mileage in the segment, but much better than most cars.

Suzuki SX4 Sport Ratings (1-10):
Style: 5
Performance: 9
Price: 9
Handling: 7
Ride: 7
Comfort: 8
Quality: 7
Overall: 7.4