2008 Suzuki SX4 Sedan Preview – New York Auto Show: Think of the last Suzuki ad you saw that didn't feature an SUV racing toward a motorcycle or an all-terrain vehicle romping around in the dirt. Chances are you can't, so don't hurt yourself by trying too hard. That lack of marketing makes it hard for shoppers to be aware of, let alone appreciate little gems like the all-wheel-drive SX4 wagon/crossover thing or its sedan sibling that will be arriving later this fall. Making its world debut at the Geneva Auto Show, the 2008 Suzuki SX4 sedan has the makings for a hit (albeit an unsung hit) if it arrives with the wagon's interior spaciousness, competent powertrain, and exceptional value.
Suzuki is a company that remains off the majority of car buyers' radars, but its lineup, comprised of new and redesigned models, is providing this Japanese brand with some forward momentum. Products like the SX4 sedan are critical to Suzuki's future success, as they provide value and inoffensive styling to shoppers seeking both. The 100,000-mile warranty doesn't hurt, either.
Suzuki will power the 2008 SX4 sedan with the same 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that's used in the current SX4 wagon (what the company is calling a crossover). Featuring dual overhead cams and 16 valves, the SX4's mechanical heart pumps out 143 horsepower at 5,800 rpm and 136 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,500 rpm, and is mated to a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. Details for the North American version are slim at this time, but it's fair to expect the sedan's underpinnings to mirror those of the current SX4, which equates to a MacPherson strut front suspension, a torsion beam rear suspension, four-wheel antilock disc brakes, 16-inch alloy wheels, and a rack-and-pinion steering setup.
From the front, the SX4 sedan mirrors the styling of the current wagon, but a side view offers a clear distinction between the two models. With features including swept-back headlights, creased flanks, short overhangs, and an abundance of glass the SX4 sedan carries a general resemblance to its current competition. Compared to the wagon, with which it shares an identical wheelbase, the new SX4 sedan loses more than two inches in height, drops an inch in width, but gains about 13 inches in overall length (thanks to the trunk and resulting rear overhang). The model pictured on the front page is the U.S.-spec car; subsequent pages feature a European-spec model with a slightly different front fascia and amber-less lenses.
Details on the U.S.-spec SX4 are being withheld until the car's debut in April, but notes on the European model, along with what we know about the existing wagon serve to fill some gaps in the meantime. Front- and side-curtain airbags should be available within the lineup, along with a vehicle stability control system, keyless entry, air conditioning, a CD player, and bonus features such as power windows, power mirrors, and a tilt steering wheel that's leather-wrapped on upper trims. The SX4 sedan provides seating for up to five passengers, with those in the rear sitting a bit higher for improved forward visibility.
If the 2008 Suzuki SX4 sedan is anything like the SX4 we drove last year (and ultimately named our Best Kept Secret for 2007), be ready to greet a value-packed little four-door. Our SX4 experience was marked by a competent powertrain, a controlled ride, a comfortable cabin, acceptable if not outstanding materials, and an overall promise of bang for your buck. Sure, the styling is a bit quirky, with the sedan's dimensions leading us to think of the Nissan Versa, but it's far from offensive or ugly. Still, the added versatility of the SX4 wagon outweighs the more mainstream appearance of this (small) family hauler.