SUZUKI is never short of clever ideas.
The Japanese brand, which is really on a roll following the success of the super sporty Swift and versatile Grand Vitara 4WD wagon, has another sure-fire winner in the SX4.
“What is it?’’ I hear you ask.
Well the truth is it is a bit of everything.
The buzz term for such a chariot is a “crossover’’ vehicle _ a safe yet adventurous combination of car and 4WD.
Living up to its maker’s objectives, SX4 offers the ideal balance by combining the performance qualities of a sporty compact with the desirable characteristics of a light SUV.
Size-wise, the five-seat hatchback that is more of a mini-wagon, sits somewhere between its Swift and Grand Vitara siblings.
From the outside, it looks extremely compact. But open the doors and start loading in kids and schoolbags and you find a surprising amount of room.
SX4 is unique in the motoring world, having on-demand AWD and an enthusiastic 2.0-litre, four cylinder engine.
It is a high-rider with a welcome 20cm of ground clearance and can be driven in 4WD, or switched to 2WD for better fuel economy.
An impressive list of features includes front, side and curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes, air conditioning, cruise control, power windows and mirrors, and alloy wheels.
It does not come with stability control, which would have made it an even safer bet.
SX4 is neatly priced at $24,390 for the five-speed manual and $26,390 for the four-speed auto.
The new Suzi - like its stablemate the Swift - is great fun to drive.
Its 2.0-litre heart is extremely willing, producing 107Kw of power at 5800rpm and a meaty 184Nm of torque at 3500rpm.
Driven with zest, the engine does get a tad noisy though.
The only other gripe in an otherwise delightful package is that it can be quite thirsty for a car of its modest dimensions.
Suzuki claims an average of 8.4 litres for every 100km covered but we logged more than 10.5 litres/100km.
SX4 zips in and out of the city traffic and cruises comfortably at the highway limit on the open road.
As far as its off-road capabilities go, they don’t stretch as far as its more rugged Grand Vitara big brother.
On a tour of the Sunshine Coast hinterland, however, the Suzi relished the chance to tackle a series of dirt and gravel roads.
The hatch is a safe and predictable drive and inspires much confidence in the driver when the conditions become less stable.
But it’s not just about performance and agility, these days it has to be about appearance as well.
The SX4 has a stylish go-anywhere design suitable for any lifestyle.
It has a sporty exterior styling to match its adventurous personality.
Overall, the Suzuki SX4 was the most fun-filled test we have done for ages.
The crossover concept has never been converted into such a wonderful reality.
Clever stuff, yet again from Suzuki!