Used Suzuki SX4 review: 2007-2013
December 9, 2013
- Cabin plastics feel cheap
- Stiff competition from rivals
- Drivetrain lacks sparkle
Suzuki SX4 is a neat crossover between a hatchback and station wagon, with the added advantage that it can handle mild off-road running. Given that Suzuki has been a major player in the 4WD market in Australia for many decades you can rest assured that the Suzuki SX4 is the real deal.
You wouldn’t call the SX4 a 4WD in the true sense of the word, indeed, the company tells us the ‘4’ in the title doesn’t stand for 4WD, but for 4 seasons. Not all SX4s in Australia have four-wheel-drive, more details on that in a moment.
The shape of the SX4 follows the same theme as the Suzuki Swift, though it has been toned down somewhat, being aimed at relatively conservative buyers. There's good seating for four adults, with generous legroom because it’s a tall vehicle. Suzuki SX4 has a decent boot, thanks to its better than average depth; that’s partly due to the use of a space saver spare wheel, fine for running about town, but if you’re planning to explore the outback a flu-size might be a better bet.
The facelifted model, from February 2010, has increased power and is the better bet if your budget is up to it. Ride comfort in the Suzuki SX4 is good, even on below-average sealed surfaces and the seats support well over bumps. Handling is competent in a safe manner, with little understeer unless it’s pushed hard.
Also new in 2010 was a 2WD model - the front wheels - and a facelift with a new egg-crate style front grille, new instrument cluster, front seat armrests, extra and an MP3 socket. A single-fold rear seat was fitted in place of the previous tumble fold setup.
Mechanically, a six-speed manual gearbox was an improvement over the previous five-ratio unit. And a CVT transmission was installed to replace the conventional four-speed auto. Note that some SX4s with 2WD are known as Suzuki Liana, rather than SX4. Without going too deeply into this, the Liana badges were originally brought by the Queensland importer, but may by now have been registered in another State.
Suzuki doesn’t have a huge number of dealers in Australia, but they are a very experienced mob. Because of the success of the Sierra, Jimny and Vitara the dealers are widespread with a more than average percentage in country areas. Spare parts and servicing are modestly priced and the good amateur mechanic will delight in the big underbonnet spaces and the ease of reaching most components.
Insurance costs tend to be slightly lower than average for the class, but there’s often a bigger than normal spread between insurance companies. Shop around, but be sure to do an accurate comparison before plumping for the lower price.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Service books showing the SX4 has always been correctly maintained by a Suzuki dealer, or other qualified mechanic, are a big plus. Look for signs of damage caused by off-road use. Scrapes on the bumper corners and the lower parts of the door sills are easy to see. If you find some also have a look underneath the SX4 for damage to the suspension lower components and the sumps.
Scratches on the doors and guards probably mean the body has been squeezed past bushes or long grass. Sight along the Suzuki for signs of a recent polish to remove these. The interior condition is another guide; lots of sand or grit in the carpets and seats can cause real wear will cost real money to repair. Don’t forget the boot mats.
Check the condition of the engine oil on the dipstick, if it’s too dark the chances are the oil and filter haven’t been maintained correctly. This can eventually cause expensive engine damage.
Make sure the engine starts easily and idles reasonably smoothly within a few seconds of kicking over. Try fast gearchanges on a manual transmission and listen and feel for a reluctance for it to be working smoothly. Automatics shouldn't hold onto gears for longer than necessary and should be smooth and prompt in their actions.
CAR BUYING TIP
It’s rare to come across a small SUV crossover that’s been seriously taken off sealed roads, if you do come across one either make sure the price is right - or look elsewhere.