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BIRTH OF THE COOL

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sun, Apr 15, 2007

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

BIRTH OF THE COOL By ROY NAKANO

Suzuki has been building good, inexpensive cars for quite some time now. Yet, despite having the best warranty in the industry, Suzuki cars have lacked the coolness factor enjoyed by its motorcycle division. Suzuki motorcycles are definitely cool, with an enviable reputation for innovation, good design and high performance. The Suzuki Hayabusa GSX1300R, for instance, has the distinction of being the fastest production motorcycle on the planet.

Last year, the company took a giant step toward infusing its car division with the coolness factor when it introduced the very attractive, second-generation Grand Vitara. This year, Suzuki took two more steps forward with the introduction of the second-generation XL-7 (see LA Car's report on the new XL-7 here) and the all-new SX4. The SX4 is a handsome, Italian-designed five-door hatchback design, featuring standard intelligent all-wheel-drive (i-AWD) system. "Suzuki designed the SX4 to be a year-round standout on the road under any driving condition," said Osamu Honda, chief engineer, SX4. "The team approached the SX4 with the intention of creating an eye-catching vehicle that would grab the attention of customers who appreciate price, performance, features, styling and safety."

The smartly styled SX4 features a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder, DOHC engine matched to a five-speed manual transmission or a specially tuned available four-speed automatic transmission. Top track speed is 120 mph for the manual transmission model. The 2.0-liter engine delivers 143 hp and 136 lb-ft of torque. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates fuel consumption estimates at 23 mpg/city and 28 mpg/highway. The SX4 features a rigid steel unibody and a chassis that was fine-tuned in Europe. Suzuki designed the SX4 for good stability on the highway, responsive handling and braking. The SX4 delivers on all counts, exhibiting sure-footed stops and only moderate body roll (you can opt for the Sport Package if sportier handling is a requirement). Suzuki credits the SX4's high body rigidity, reinforced suspension mounts, and finely balanced MacPherson struts up front and rear torsion beam suspension for this car's buttoned-down behavior.

Sport Package spoiler For a car that can be had for $15,000, the SX4 has an incredible list of standard features and creature comforts. The interior amenities include a standard AM/FM/MP3/CD audio system, with an optional AM/FM/MP3 in-dash six-disc CD changer with six speaker plus subwoofer system. Practical rear split-folding seats offer 60/40 seating to allow for stowage of longer items. The second- row seats also can be tumbled forward for maximum cargo carrying ability. Luggage room is 9.5 cubic feet (270 liters VDA) and increases to 22.0 cubic feet (625 liters VDA) with the rear seats folded forward. The SX4 is riddled with discreet storage compartments located throughout the cabin. The fit and finish of this car reflects a much more expensive vehicle. The interior materials have the look and feel of a $20,000 plus vehicle. The bright brushed metal trim on the car is actually made out of metal rather than plastic. On the outside, you won't find plastic wheel covers on this car. The SX4 comes standard with aluminum alloy wheels.

The impressive list of standard equipment extends to safety features. Active safety features include four-wheel disc brakes with an anti-lock brake system, which are standard with electronic brake-force distribution. In addition, Electronic Stability Program® (ESP) (including traction control)*, standard on the Premium package, generates compensating yaw moment in the event of rear-wheel or front-wheel slip to help the driver return the car to its intended path of travel. The SX4 received a number of compliments from passers-by. While we might expect this from an Italian exotic car, we don't expect it from a $14,999 vehicle. When we tell the passers-by how much it costs, they are astounded. That's quite a compliment for this new tall cool one from Suzuki.

SUMMARY JUDGMENT Few have offered so much for so little. Add the SX4 to the list. For more information on Suzuki products, go to www.suzukiauto.com.

SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2007 Suzuki SX4 AWD Price: $14,999 base; $14,999 as tested $16, 399 (Sport model) Engine type: 2.0 liter dual overhead cam 16-valve I-4 EPA mileage estimates City/ Highway: 23/28 Horsepower: 143 @ 5,800 rpm Torque: 136 lb-ft @ 3,500 rpm Drive configuration: Front engine / Three-Mode Intelligent all-wheel drive Transmission type: Five-speed manual transmission (specially tuned four-speed automatic transmission optional) Suspension: Front: Struts, with anti-shock towers, coil springs and stabilizer bar Rear: Torsion beam axle Wheels and tires: Standard 16-inch alloy wheels P205/60R16 tires Brakes: Four-wheel antilock brakes, with Electronic Brake-force Distribution Electronic Stability Program (ESP), Traction Control System (TCS), Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) Overall length: 162.8 inches Overall width: 69.1 inches Overall height: 63.2 inches Curb weight (lbs.): 2904 Top speed: 120 mph

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