The Suzuki SX4 comes with either a 1.6 petrol engine with 118bhp or a 133bhp 2.0-litre diesel. The petrol is a little reluctant to pull at low revs, so it isn't the most flexible thing you'll ever drive. However, this engine loves to be thrashed, so get heavy with the throttle, and you'll zip along surprisingly quickly. The diesel engine is strong low-down, but you won't get anywhere in a hurry.
The SX4 is good fun to drive, with predictable handling, fine body control, responsive steering and light controls. The ride is a little firm, though, which won't suit everyone. The four-wheel-drive versions are surprisingly capable off-road, too.
Road noise is reasonably well contained at speed, and the SX4 doesn't suffer from suspension clatter. Wind can be heard around the windscreen pillars at speed, though, and both engines make themselves heard - the diesel is particularly annoying. The gearchange is also frustratingly vague.
When you consider that the front-wheel drive version is nothing more than a jacked-up hatchback with roof bars and scuff plates, the SX4 looks a little expensive, but it's still cheaper than most other crossovers. The four-wheel-drive models look better value. Fuel economy and emissions aren't too bad, either, so it won't cost you a bomb to run.
Everything in the cabin has a durable feel and the controls operate with slick precision. However, the dash plastics are hard to the touch and don't look particularly classy. The SX4 wasn't included in the 2012 JD Power survey, but as a brand, Suzuki finished too close to the bottom of the table.
Twin front, side and curtain airbags are standard across the SX4 range, as are anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution. However, none of them has stability control, which is a big omission. Still, it's been awarded four stars in Euro NCAP crash tests. Security provisions include deadlocks and an engine immobiliser.
Most drivers will get comfortable thanks to a height-adjustable seat, although things would be improved if the steering column moved for reach as well as rake. Navigating the dash is easy because it features big, bold switches and dials, but the thick windscreen pillars hamper forward vision.
The SX4 offers decent room for four people, but not a fifth. Boot capacity is a disappointing 270 litres, although you can extend this. Simply pull on a cord and the rear seat back folds forward on to the base. The whole unit then tumbles forward to sit behind the front seats, although it takes up a lot of space.
Entry-level SZ3 models come with four electric windows, remote locking, air-conditioning and steering wheel-mounted controls for the CD stereo. SZ4 models add alloy wheels, front foglamps, automatic air-con and keyless entry. Top-spec SZ5 versions come with four-wheel drive, rear privacy glass and a CD changer.
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Our pick of the SX4 range – for now. We've driven the capable four-wheel-drive models, and we reckon a properly cheap off-roader makes sense. A supermini with some chunky styling? Not so much.