Two of my favourite novelists are Robert Ludlum and John Grisham. To those who don’t know, the now deceased Ludlum was a spy thriller specialist, while Grisham is the master of legal thrillers. I have no spying background whatsoever, nor have I even considered studying law. After reading a book by either of these novelists, however, it feels as though I’m able to evade an entire Russian military battalion with a single pistol, or I could tell you all there is to know about fighting a legal battle for an innocent prisoner.
Currently there are quite a few crossover vehicles available on the local market. These are vehicles which seem to know a lot about nothing in the same way that I know a lot about nothing in spy and law. A car such as the Volkswagen Cross Polo seems to have read a book about off-roading. It’s a small B-segment hatch that had been adorned with minor off-road niceties – a city boy with a pellet gun dreaming of the Wild West. This is what I initially thought of the Suzuki SX4 as well.
The time spent in field training when reading Ludlum’s Bourne series, has taught me to be vigilant at all times and assume that anyone could be the enemy. The inconspicuous SX4 is a field agent. Its visage is unassuming enough for it to seamlessly blend into the crowd. That’s not to say it looks boring, though. Its headlights, grill, clamshell bonnet, front bumper and creases all come together nicely to present a look that’s neat and tidy. The frontal design homogeneously fits in with its Kizashi sibling – which I find to be a good-looking vehicle. The rest of the exterior seamlessly blends in with the face.
Like a sleeper agent the SX4 speaks the language of the locals. It’s big and spacious for a C-segment vehicle, having increased by 220 mm in length and 35 mm in width over the original version. Rear seats fold flat in a 60/40 split whilst a two-position reclining backrest on the GLX derivative provides the option of improved passenger comfort, or frees up a further 10 litres to add to the 430 litre luggage compartment. 1 269 litres of luggage space is available with rear seats folded flat. This easily satisfies local demand for space in a land where holidays and out-of-town trips are relished.
The dashboard is well sculpted; its charcoal hue is appreciatively accentuated by metallic highlights. A few gadgets can be found embedded in the centre console. AllGrip models are given a drive select rotary knob from where one can opt between Auto, Sport, Snow/Mud and Lock. Accompanying features include a Bluetooth and MP3-capable infotainment system.
Out on the road the SX4 drives admirably. In true Suzuki fashion the steering is precise and isn’t easily unsettled by the pothole-infested back roads of the Magaliesburg region. Driving the SX4 is an economical 4-cylinder 1.6 VVT – the only downside being that the 86kW and 150Nm power/torque figure on this naturally aspirated engine can be found wanting at energy-sapping reef altitude. Due to this, downshifts are needed when overtaking, but once it has found its rhythm, the SX4 moves along sweetly. The SX4 is available in 5-speed manual and 7-speed continuously variable transmission (CVT). Although the manual makes the driver feel more connected to the vehicle, the automatic CVT does allow one the option of manually changing cogs.
The range-topping AllGrip model allows one to negate loose and slippery surfaces in “Snow/Mud” mode. Once this mode is engaged, torque can be distributed based on accelerator and steering input. Overall there are five models in the range divided into two specification levels – entry level GL and the higher spec GLX.
The time spent in the SX4 made me come to the conclusion that the SX4 doesn’t read books to gain inspiration, it actually writes them. Where main rivals such as the Renault Duster, Nissan Qashqai and Daihatsu Terios are geared more toward ‘gravel-roading’ than they are to paved-roading, the SX4 can roll up its sleeves to do the gravel-road stuff and then feel equally at ease on the asphalt.
|1.6 GL 5MT||265 900|
|1.6 GLX 5MT||295 900|
|1.6 GLX CVT||318 900|
|1.6 GLX 5MT (AllGrip)||319 900|
|1.6 GLX CVT (AllGrip )||341 900|
|Retail price includes 3yr / 90 000km service plan|
Author: Reuben Mentor