Though relatively small in Australia Suzuki is a major player in the small vehicle market globally. It is best known Downunder for 4WDs and SUVs but also makes cars and wagons.
This week’s used car feature, the Suzuki SX4 is part hatchback and part station wagon. Some models have all-wheel-drive so can venture off-road and onto beaches. But don’t attempt too much or you might have to wait for a Suzuki Jimny, Suzuki Vitara or even an old Suzuki Sierra, to happen along and tow you out.
Ride comfort in the Suzuki SX4 is good, even on below-average sealed surfaces and the seats support reasonably well. Handling is competent and safe but this is certainly not a sports SUV.
The added height of the SX4 compared to regular hatchbacks means there’s surprisingly good seating for four adults. It has a deep boot, which is partly due to having a space saver wheel under it. If you’re planning any off-road ventures it might be best to buy a full-size spare
When launched in Oz in 2007 the Suzuki SX4 came only with all four wheels driven. Realising that an ever increasing number of buyers only wanted a spacious suburban runabout the importer made major changes to the range in February 2010.
A 2WD model (front wheels) was now offered, it had added engine power, a facelift including a new instrument design. On the downside, single-fold rear seat was fitted in place of the previous tumble fold setup.
The first series SX4s had a five-speed manual gearbox or a four-speed automatic transmission. The Series 2 was upgraded to six-speed manual and a CVT auto.
Note that some SX4s with 2WD are called as Suzuki Liana in Queensland, rather than SX4. The Queensland importer operates as a separate entity to that in the rest of Australia. Obviously, these Lianas may have been re-registered in another State somewhere down the line.
Suzuki doesn’t have a huge number of dealers in Australia, but are long established and well regarded. Because of the Suzuki 4WDs the dealers are widespread with a more than average percentage in country areas.
Spare parts and servicing are modestly priced and the good amateur mechanic will find they have good underbonnet space to minimise the amount of blood you spill.
Insurance costs tend to be slightly lower than average for the class, but there’s often a bigger than normal spread between insurance companies. Shop around, but be sure to do an accurate comparison before plumping for the lower price.
Never a big success, the Suzuki SX4 was taken off the Australia market at the end of 2013. Some may not have been sold new till 2014, while these may be advertised as used 2014 cars they really should be classed as 2013s and priced as such.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Check the condition of the engine oil on the dipstick, if it’s too dark the chances are the oil and filter haven’t been maintained correctly. This can eventually cause expensive engine damage.
Make sure the engine starts easily and idles reasonably smoothly within a few seconds of kicking over.
Try fast gearchanges on a manual transmission and listen and feel for a reluctance for it to be working smoothly.
Automatics shouldn’t hold onto gears for longer than necessary and should be smooth and prompt in their actions.
Suzuki drivers can be adventurous types so some SX4s may have been given a look into the bush or onto beaches.
Look for sand or salt underneath in case one has splashed around having fun at the edges of surf.
Scrapes on the bumper corners and door sills are easy to see. Look underneath for damage to the suspension and sumps.
Sand or grit in the carpets, seats and boot mats can cause real wear.
CAR BUYING TIP
Set a budget before buying a used car – and stick to it. Don’t forget to allow for transfer fees, registration and insurance, as well as unexpected repairs.