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2008 Suzuki SX4 (Suzuki)
2008 Suzuki SX4 (Suzuki)

2008 Suzuki SX4

2008 Suzuki SX4 could've been a contender Add to ...

Introduced to the North American market in 2007, the Suzuki SX4 replaced the quirky Aerio and was offered in hatchback or sedan form for 2008.

Unfortunately, it was up against Canada’s best-selling economy sedan, the Honda Civic, which had a slightly lower starting price. On the other hand, the SX4 offered air conditioning, tilt steering, XM satellite radio and ABS as standard equipment on the base model, which the Honda did not. This made it a reasonably attractive proposition.

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You could also order heated front seats, heated outside mirrors, cruise control, fog lamps, rear-wheel disc brakes, electronic stability control and larger 17-inch alloy wheels if you stepped up to the Sport model, for example.

In terms of cargo-carrying capacity, the SX4 sedan out-pointed the Civic by a fairly wide margin: 439 litres of trunk room, versus 340 litres for the Civic, and the SX4 came with 60/40 folding rear seats. It also had a full complement of front, side, and side curtain airbags.

All SX4 models were propelled by a 2.0-litre, 143-horsepower four-cylinder, mated to a either a five-speed manual gearbox or a four-speed automatic. Both drivetrains had almost identical fuel economy numbers. And the hatchback version could be had with optional all-wheel-drive.

Drivetrain refinement was not what it could be with the SX4. Get up and go, power delivery, and fuel economy were fine, but the engine in this vehicle lacked the sophistication and smoothness of its number one rival, the Civic. Definitely a little crude in comparison.

That said, it was priced well, had a funky charm about it, and was as good as anything else in this category when it came to fuel consumption, handling city traffic and cruising down the highway. In terms of buying used, prospective buyers are advised to check out the base model to get maximum bang for minimum cost.

There’s but one safety recall from Transport Canada to report, and it’s a minor one, at that. Apparently, the outside side mirrors can come loose and, if not attended to, may fall off. This glitch applies to 2008, 2009, and 2010 models. The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, meanwhile, also has a recall on file for the Garmin GPS navi system that was optional for this year. Specifically, it concerns the batteries powering the system, which could overheat, and potentially cause a fire. This recall is a widespread one, by the way, and applies to a wide range of manufacturers and models. The glitchy Garmin systems in question are the Nuvi 750,760, and 765 series.

Just one technical service bulletin from NHTSA for the ’08 SX4. It concerns the five-speed manual transmission, which could exhibit premature signs of wear. You’ll notice if this is the case if the car pops out of gear or loses its synchromesh in fifth.

A tentative thumbs-up from Consumer Reports for this vintage of the SX4. While it doesn’t receive this organizations highest rating, it is well above average in virtually all areas and seems to be better all-round than its 2007 predecessor. The only problem area appears to be with power equipment and it receives an overall “above average” rating. Some comments from owners: “Engine blew out without warning at 27,000 miles,” “Seats made for light small butts” and “Excellent city car”.

Not much love from market research firm J.D. Power. This organization only has data on the 2007 model, but there aren’t any major differences between ’07 and ’08. Problems areas include, well, just about everywhere as far as J.D. Power is concerned, with body interior quality and features accessories quality being the only two bright spots. The SX4 gets a “below average” rating for overall dependability from J.D. Power.

The hatchback and sedan versions of the SX4 had different trim levels; the sedan came in two models: base and Sport, while the hatch was available in four different trim levels. Prices vary from the $9,000 for both base versions, to the low teens for a loaded AWD hatchback. The AWD version of the hatchback is fetching around $1,000 more than the FWD model.

globedrive@globeandmail.com

Tech specs

2008 Suzuki SX4 sedan/hatchback

Original Base Price: $17,195; Black Book: $9,550-$11,650; Red Book: $9,825-$12,050

Engine: 2.0-litre, four-cylinder

Horsepower/Torque: 143 hp/138 lb-ft

Transmission: Five-speed manual and four-speed automatic

Fuel Economy (litres/100 km): 9.0 city/6.5 highway; regular gas

Drive: Front-drive and all-wheel

Alternatives: Mini Cooper, Toyota Yaris, Mercedes-Benz B200, Smart fortwo, Honda Civic, Nissan Versa, Chevrolet Aveo, Subaru Impreza

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