The Automotive Amanojaku

This is where you'll find news, random car-related thoughts and personal views from a rabid car nut. "Amanojaku" is Japanese slang that means "person who is deliberately contradictory". I've always found myself drawn to the less appreciated car makes - the "underdogs" if you will. Suzuki, Pontiac, GM Daewoo and Holden, are among my favorite brands to watch and comment on. Let me hear your thoughts!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Word of Mouth Buzz & Good Reviews for New Suzuki SX4

SUZUKI SX4 REVIEW ROUND UP: "A Hell of a Deal; the potential to be a WRX-killer"

Quote: The SX4’s on-demand AWD system is a particularly pukka party trick, reminiscent of Subarus of yore. For daily duty, the SX4 is a front-driver. Flip a switch near the handbrake and i-AWD kicks in. In this mode, 95% of the SX4’s torque is routed to the front wheels. Should either of the fronts lose purchase, up to 50% of the power is sent to the back wheels. If you get stuck in sand (posing for the requisite PR lifestyle surfer dude pictures), you can switch to full-time four wheel-drive and lock up the transfer case for an even split.

And if you have to split in a hurry, the SX4 is a corner carver par excellence. The base model’s blessed with fat 205 tires (the same size as a BMW 328i’s hoops) and a smartly-tuned chassis; the Sport version gains stability control (unique to this class). Surprisingly, body roll and grip are never an issue. Even better, the SX4’s rack and pinion steering is a revelation; the tiniest tiller inputs deliver an instant change of direction. Running in i-AWD I tackled my favorite corners as fast as I could in my (gulp) Subaru WRX.

And the hits keep happening. With a 2.0-liter DOHC I4 harnessing 143 scrappy little fillies, this little Suzy has some guts. To gain access to the mill’s 136 pound-feet of torque, your hand never leaves the stick shift knob but A) you’re only fighting against 2800lbs. and B) it’s fun. Short gearing ensures that the engine is constantly on the boil, while the user friendly clutch makes downshifting a breeze. OK, you can’t call a zero to sixty in 8.3 seconds car fast, but it ain’t slow neither.

For roughly the same money as a Toyota Yaris, Honda Fit or Nissan Versa, the Suzuki SX4 provides a larger, more powerful wagon — “crossover” with AWD, distinctive styling and hoonery. If Suzuki creates more driver friendly vehicles like the SX4, they’ll finally be building a brand worth remembering.


Quote: "For a company known more for its sport bikes than its cars, having a solid “normal” car is a big deal. The SX4 shows that Suzuki is a real car company that builds real cars. Excuse us for a minute… we still can’t get over just what an improvement this car is over past models.
For just $15K fully-loaded, the Suzuki SX4 is a hell of a deal. We came in fully expecting to be disappointed in this car but came away from it with a healthy amount of respect for it. We’d fully recommend this car to anyone looking at a Fit, Yaris or even a Civic. If the aftermarket picks up on this thing, the SX4 will have the potential to be a WRX-killer. You can’t say that about the Fit. "


Quote:"What makes the SX4 so different than others is that it makes four-wheel drive standard across the line. Its not a Mickey Mouse gimmick, either, as the system is actually advanced enough to be considered sophisticated. Called i-AWD (I for Intelligent, of course), it uses an electronically controlled system that allows the SX4 to get out of some pretty sticky situations.
When four-wheel drive and Suzuki are tossed together in the same sentence, its exceedingly easy to think directly of the little off roaders that Suzuki is famous for. With good ground clearance and ladder frame construction, SUVs like the Samurai, Sidekick and Grand Vitara, which were great off-road, come to mind, but their tippy nature made them pretty hopeless on pavement. Thus, with great excitement, I can report that the SX4, with its four-wheel drive system has excellent on-road dynamics - and thats not just in the realm of the Suzuki nameplate.

Sharing many of the key components from the European-market Swift, such as the floorpan, the suspension and steering systems has really benefited the SX4. On the road it felt solid, and strangely planted for something so small, with steering thats surprisingly sharp and quick witted, but most importantly, the rest of the car can cope with it. You can attack corners with some pretty aggressive angles, and although body roll is more pronounced than in a regular hatchback, it never feels anything less than stable. Not once, even at the limits of its grip during a simulated emergency lane change or slalom did the SX4 feel as if it would topple over, which allows you to drive it like a little sports hatchback, though it lacks the zest and fervor of the old, Swift GTI because of its weight.

And while Id normally criticize weight as the mortal enemy to any sort of automotive engineering, the additional heft actually helps the SX4 to feel more stable on the road. The suspension, which consists of McPherson struts in front and a torsion-beam in rear tightropes the line on firmness; its comfortable, yet it doesnt roll excessively, or wallow. And, given the brevity of the SX4s wheelbase, the extra weight smoothens out the ride over rough surfaces, which would otherwise send an equivalently sized car into a fit of vibrations and jitters. By comparison, the SX4 is remarkably composed and settled, even over less than smooth surfaces such as unfinished gravel roads, grass and snow, surfaces that Suzuki expects its owners to be treading on."



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