2010 Suzuki SX4 SportBack
Suzuki loves to talk about the "motorcycle DNA" that it supposedly infuses into each of its four-wheeled vehicles, but the average buyer is probably more interested in Suzuki's relatively low prices--and the promise of high fuel-economy that comes from the small stature of some of its cars, such as the 2010 Suzuki SX4.
The SX4 has been Suzuki's small car volume leader for a while now, slotting under the new-for-2010 mid-size Kizashi. Available in both hatchback and sedan forms, the SX4 gets some styling tweaks for 2010. It also gets a tad more power from its 2.0-liter four-cylinder and two new transmissions--a 6-speed manual and a continuously-variable automatic (CVT). All-wheel drive is available. The four-banger puts out 150 horsepower when mated to the manual transmission, and 148 with the CVT.
My tester was a front-wheel drive hatch with the manual, with an EPA rating of 22 mpg city and 30 mpg highway.
Standard features included traction control, an antiskid system, ABS, side-curtain airbags, fog lamps, keyless entry and starting, a navigation system with features such as real-time traffic information, air conditioning, a tilt steering wheel, cruise control, and a trip computer. All for a base price of $17,949.
Options were limited to floor mats & cargo mats ($175), premium metallic paint ($130), and a wireless cell phone link ($259). Total price: $18,513. One anomaly: My press car had a window sticker with no destination charge, but it appears that the fee is $735.
Drop into the driver's seat, and the SX4 is an interesting piece of machinery. It's quick off the line, thanks to its light weight, and it dives and darts through urban traffic with ease. It handles like other small, sporty front-drivers, in that it responds quickly and accurately to steering inputs. I don't want to use the "it drives like a go-kart" cliche, but it does handle a bit like those open-wheeled vehicles powered by steroidal lawn-mower engines.