2010 Suzuki SX4 Sportback

I recently spent a week in a Suzuki SX4 Sportback and I came away with mixed feelings. The SX4 promises so much but every time I get out of one I end up feeling, “if only.” But before you think I’m going to trash the SX4, think again.

The SX4 is a really good little car. It’s handsome bordering on cute. It is very well built, has ample room for four (even though Suzuki says it’s a five passenger), yet small enough to be a darn fine city car.

I don’t know anyone who owns an SX4 so I can’t vouch for its reliability but based on the record of other Suzuki models it should be above average.

On paper the 2.0-liter, DOHC, 16-valve makes more than decent power (150 hp) but for some reason it just seems to lack that punch when you stand on the gas. Likewise, the EPA fuel economy ratings are okay (23-city and 30-highway) but not great. I think part of the problem is that the SX4 Sportback in its lightest version weighs 2,732 lbs (a Honda Fit with automatic transmission weighs 2,574 lbs). Weight is an enemy of fuel economy and nimble handling.

The SX4 Sportback is reasonably priced, with a base price of $17,949 with a manual transmission; $19,099 for the CVT. You can get a SX4 Sedan for only $13,359.

I wish I wasn’t such a troglodyte when it comes to CVTs (continuously variable transmissions). No matter how often I tell myself that they are more efficient I keep thinking the damn transmission is slipping. My problem entirely.

One area that impressed the heck out of me was the brakes. You’ve heard to old expression, “stops on a dime and gives you a nickel change”? That’s the SX4. I remember when the brakes on an econo-car were downright scary – step on the pedal and pray. This is the way all cars should be built – more brake than needed in every day driving.

I’d like to see a SX4 with a manual transmission and maybe 200 lbs less weight - that might stir something inside me.


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