I'm not sure why Suzuki waited until last fall to release the SportBack version of the SX4. With its mild bodykit, lack of roof racks, and lower profile, it looks much cooler than the SX4 Crossover that was launched for 2007. One thing I wish was like the earlier SX4s, though, is the car's manual gearbox ... that old five-speed wasn't as good on gas, but its action was tighter and smoother than this slightly vague six-speed. Still, it works well with the SX4's tight chassis to make for a very good "slow car" that's remarkably fun to drive quickly. It's also worth pointing out that all 2010 SX4s received a new, more fuel efficient engine that produces 7 more hp and 4 extra lb-ft of torque than the previous 2.0-liter four-cylinder.
I was a bit surprised by this test vehicle's $18,500 price tag, but the SportBack, which starts at $17,949, is the most expensive and most well-equipped member of the SX4 lineup. A base SX4 Sedan (a much less attractive vehicle, to my eyes) costs just over $14,000, undercutting the base Honda Fit by more than $1500; the basic SX4 Crossover starts at a fairly substantial $16,584. I agree that all-wheel drive is a great SX4 selling point, but it's available only in the Crossover and comes with a starting price of $17,714. SX4s without all-wheel drive feature attractive lower prices and higher fuel mileage ratings.
-In spite of those front quarter windows, the A-pillars are gigantic and hard to see around.
-Steering-wheel kickback was quite noticeable when I hustled the car through some bumpy 20-to-30-mph corners.
-The Garmin touch-screen unit that David mentioned is a nice solution for a cheap, easily updatable, yet clean-looking navigation system. But it is quite far away from the driver and hard to reach.
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor