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
Next New On Wheels: 2011 Ford Explorer
2011 SUZUKI SX4 SPORTBACK
VEHICLE TYPE_________________ 5-passenger FWD compact hatchback
BASE PRICE___________________ $16,999 (as tested: $17,994)
MOTOR TYPE___________________ 16-valve 4-cylinder w/MPFI
HORSEPOWER (net)_____________ 150 at 6200 rpm
TORQUE (lb.-ft.)_____________ 148 at 6000 rpm
TRANSMISSION_________________ 6-speed manual
WHEELBASE____________________ 98.4 in.
OVERALL LENGTH_______________ 162.0 in.
TURNING CIRCLE (curb-to-curb) 34.8 ft.
FUEL CAPACITY________________ 13.2 gal.
EPA MILEAGE RATING___________ 22 mpg city, 30 mpg highway
2012 VW PASSAT: The all-new 2012 Volkswagen Passat, the largest ever, is the only midsize sedan that offers superior German engineering at an accessible price. The Passat TDI — the only clean diesel option in the segment — is expected to deliver 43 miles per gallon on the highway, with a range of approximately 800 miles. Starting under $20,000, the all-new Passat offers three drivetrain options: a responsive 2.5L gasoline engine, a remarkably eco-friendly 2.0L TDI Clean Diesel and a powerful 3.6L VR6. The Passat will be offered in three trim levels, S SE and SEL, with a total of 16 equipment levels. (Source Volkswagen)
ODDS OF DYING: In a recent study, researchers found that drivers of vehicles that receive a Poor rating in the IIHS side-impact test are three times more likely to die in real-world crashes than drivers of vehicles that get a Good rating. A vehicle’s structure — not just how many airbags it has — plays a key role. Specifically, the study found that a driver’s odds of dying when another car crashes into the driver’s side are 70 percent less if the driver is in a vehicle that was rated Good in side-impact protection than if that driver were in a vehicle that was rated Poor. (Source: Down the Road, Motor Matters)
CAR REPAIR ADVICE: My problem is static electricity. The car dealer said there is nothing they can do about it. I even hung a ground wire from the undercarriage. What should I do? Answer: Static electricity will differ from car to car and person to person. In the old days, we used to install a rubber strap to the underside of the car and touch the actual ground when the car is stopped. I recommend the use of spray static guard chemicals. The static guard can be sprayed onto the cloth seating areas and rugs. You can also use the same static guard on your clothes and this should eliminate the shocking. (Source: Ask the Auto Doctor, Motor Matters)
Copyright, AutoWriters Associates Inc., 2011