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Suzuki's crossover gets a sporty new look.

Byline: PATRICK JAMES

SUZUKI'S facelifted crossover ticks all the right boxes and is probably their best effort to date - but is it really a c ro s s ove r ? Stylish, practical, lively, well-equipped and cheap, the car offers a tempting combination for those looking for something a little different and an excellent driving experience. Yet in two-wheel drive format and with a small boot, it feels really like a sporty supermini.

Add the four-wheel drive and it becomes a different proposition with decent off-road capability. The facelift is mostly cosmetic as the distinctive tapering body shape remains as do the large eliptical headlights and tail lights, it features a redesigned front bumper and grill together with new design 16-inch alloy wheels for SZ4 and SZ5 models.

A low, rising waistline gives the vehicle its sporty wedge shape as do the muscular wheel arches.

The interior is neat and stylish and while the plastics may look a little harsh, they will be hard-wearing and it feels well put together and ro b u s t. Passengers are treated to Tardislike space inside and are kept comfortable on well-shaped supportive seats. All-round vision is good except for the tapered rear side windows while head and legroom is excellent.

FA C E L I F Large door openings and high ground clearance make access easy for all on board.

The rear seats are set slightly higher, which means even those in the back get a good all-round view and divide 60/40, to carry longer items.

They can also be tumbled forward to create an almost fully flat load floor, increasing boot capacity from a not very generous 270 to 625 litres.

For such a small car, the driving seat is in a commanding position, while the four-wheel drive version offers better safety in adverse weather conditions.

The car is powered by a choice of 1.6-litre petrol and two-litre diesel engines while the test model was mated to a four-speed automatic gearbox.

The power unit proved plenty of space and decent economy, while carbon dioxide emissions are lowish. Euro 5 compliant, the 1.6-litre petrol offers 10 per cent more power, 10 per cent lower fuel consumption and 13 per cent fewer emissions than previous engine at 143g/km.

The interior features wedge-shaped motifs while the instrument panel is well laid out and easy to see thanks to a backlit three-dial cluster which provides important information on fuel consumption.

The lower centre dashboard panel was also revised for the 2010 model and incorporates a new display housing the audio, air-conditioning and other c o n t ro l s. Steering wheel audio controls are illuminated for added convenience. On the road the car is a fun drive with sharp handling and responsive steering while the ride is firm but comfortable.

Good soundproofing muffles excessive road and engine noise, but the power unit can be noisy when accelerating hard.

Standard equipment is comprehensive and includes remote central locking with deadlocks, airconditioning, MP3/WMA compatible CD tuner with eight speakers, four electric windows, driver information display and illuminated steering wheel mounted audio controls.

The SZ4 model tested adds fog lamps, 16-inch alloy wheels, side body protection and heated door mirrors as well as keyless entry and start, dashboard centre speaker and automatic air-conditioning.

The Suzuki scores four stars on the Euro NCAP safety standard and safety elements include ABS with electronic brake-force distribution, front and rear crush zones absorb impact energy, front, side and curtain airbags and ISOFIX child seat anchor points.

Facts and figures SUZUKI SX4 SZ4 5DR AUTO PRICE: pounds 13,420 MECHANICAL: 120bhp, 1,586cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving four wheels via fourspeed automatic gearbox MAX SPEED: 115mph 0-60MPH: 10.7 seconds COMBINED MPG: 43.5 INSURANCE GROUP: 18 CO EMISSIONS: 165g/km BIK RATING: 22% WARRANTY: 3yrs/60,000 miles.

CAPTION(S):

FA C E L I F T - The new-look Suzuki crossover CLASSY - With a soft-touch finish
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Dec 10, 2010
Words:659
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