Suzuki SX4 Sportback — Small Car with 8 Airbags

There are a lot of positives going for the small 2011 Suzuki SX4 SportBack. It’s very well equipped, it’s affordable, it’s earned good safety ratings, — and best of all it’s got a fun little six manual.

True, the front-wheel-drive SX4 SportBack looks like a lightweight weighing in at just 2,734 pounds, but we quickly logged onto the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety web site and searched for this car’s crash-test ratings and learned this little number has earned the institute’s highest ratings of Good in frontal and side-crash testing. Impressive. And buyers in the small car segment should be impressed when they see the sticker sheet on the 2011 SX4 SportBack includes eight airbags as standard equipment. The airbags are positioned as four in the front row, two side-impact airbags in the second row, and two side-curtain airbags.

Suzuki built the SX for class-leading active and passive safety. The SX4 has a reinforced body with front and rear crumple zones, along with electronic stability control, ABS and traction control. Even an all-wheel-drive configuration is offered on the 2011 SX4 SportBack.

The 2011 SX lineup includes the Sedan, the AWD Crossover and the SportBack. Our tester was the SportBack with 17-inch alloy wheels, rear spoiler, sport aero body package, Vivid Red exterior paint and a base price of $16,999. This model featured the six-speed manual transmission. Suzuki also offers a Continuously Variable Transmission as an option.
Powering the little red SX4 SportBack was Suzuki’s new-for-MY2010 2.0-liter displacement. This four-cylinder engine produces 150 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 148 lb.-ft. of torque at 6,000 rpm. The EPA fuel economy returns on the SX4 SportBack are rated at 22 miles per gallon city and 30 mpg highway.

This car moves so nicely on the interstate. Shifting manually through the six gears is so effortless it brings back the joy of manual-style driving — a dying art form today — as most automatic transmissions have become so good they’re hard not to opt for.
Suzuki bestows the bright name of SportBack on this particular SX4 version for the combination of its hatchback body and sport mode styling. The SX4 SportBack has a lower ride height, performance shocks, standard stabilizer bars and low profile tires.

The hatchback is a very functional style and the SX4 has the necessary flexibility of design to manage five people and cargo in the spacious rear. There’s good legroom and headroom due to its square body styling. The no-excuses wide door openings ease the hassle of getting in and out of a small car. Once inside, back seat passengers will find the theater-style seating, with its split-fold and reclining abilities, takes away their sardine-can suffocation fears.
Standard features on the 2011 SportBack tester were a remote keyless entry; air conditioning; integrated navigation system with Google search; AM/FM/CD four-speaker sound equipment with MP3 and XM radio; cruise control; power windows, doors, locks; plus automatic dimming rearview mirror. The leather-wrapped steering wheel also had redundant audio controls.

This small car has so many good things going for it — value-equipped to safety-equipped — it’s hard not to appreciate what it can offer to buyers in the affordable-small-car segment. — Connie Keane, Motor Matters

Copyright, AutoWriters Associates Inc., 2011

CONNIE KEANE has been test-driving and reporting on new cars since 1994. She is a trained driver having received racetrack and handling instruction from professional race drivers. Keane is an experienced radio and television broadcaster, working from 1980 through 1986 as a radio disc jockey in southern New Jersey, as well as TV anchorwoman and street reporter for the NBC-affiliate TV40.

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