The Suzuki SX4 Sport, introduced last year as a 2008 model, is the sedan counterpart to the SX4 Crossover hatchback, which made its debut a year earlier. The Crossover was well-received by the media and praised for its ride quality and excellent interior. The Sport retains those qualities and, although it loses some of the Crossover's versatility because it has a traditional trunk, has tons of interior space and a decent amount of cargo room. The SX4 is aimed at young singles, but with seating for five it can also meet the needs of a small family on a budget.
From the outside, the SX4 looks deceivingly small. The stubby nose, low beltline, and large, upright side windows give the vehicle visual height, which also shortens the visual length. A small wedge-shaped window forward of the front side windows splits the A-pillar into two parts, which allows the windows to start lower on the body and preserves the sporty rake of the windshield. The window looks cool and adds character. Tasteful body cladding and optional 17-inch wheels and low-profile tires add to the sporty look. The styling is modern and clean and loosely follows the design language of Suzuki's handsome, redesigned Grand Vitara.
The upright greenhouse and a low-slung dash create an open and airy feel in the cabin. The wedge-shaped stationary windows let in a huge amount of light and minimize the blind spot that is usually created by a single A-pillar. (The A-pillars are the forward-most roof-support pillars astride the windshield.) The downside to all this glass is that on sunny, summer days the SX4 becomes a greenhouse and the air conditioning struggles to keep up. The interior is dominated by plastics but the texture and matte finish used on the dash and center console really dress up the cabin and, combined with excellent fit, give the SX4 the look and feel of a more expensive vehicle. The red accent lighting on the dials and gauges reinforces the sporting intentions. The SX4 Sport we drove had the Convenience package. This package adds 17-inch wheels, disc brakes, automatic climate-control, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with backlit steering-wheel-mounted audio controls for $1200. The leather is soft and grippy and the audio controls, like most in the cabin, are nicely damped.
The lack of a center storage console is a notable omission. Except for door pockets and a few small bins below the stereo, there is little storage space in the SX4, and the glove box can't hold much more than the owner's manual. And, since there also isn't an armrest for the driver, no center console means no place to rest your elbow which becomes uncomfortable especially when you are shifting for yourself. The sedan also lacks a split/fold rear seat to access the trunk - a standard item on most of its competitors and a near necessity in modern America - so if you plan to carry large or long items, you'll want the SX4 Crossover or you'll have to shop elsewhere. The SX4 does provide seating for five and even gives the poor soul crammed in the middle his own headrest, which is uncommon in this class.