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Old 28th October 2008, 02:13   #1
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Thumbs up The SX4 - A review by a diesel torque addict

Having driven the sx4 for about 140 kms on the highway, I wanted to post my impressions about the car's power, handling and my overall impression.

The Car: Maruti Suzuki SX4, ZXi, shod with JK Vectras and OE alloys.
The Road: BLR-MYS highway, including the NICE road from Kankanpura road to Mysore Road.
Time: Started at 2250 from Bannerghatta Road

The evening started with the Russel Peters show when prabhuav and tadukuttan hatched the plan to do an Elantra drive later that night. Dad had been complaining that the SX4 isn't really all that great, lacks power and zip and is no fun to drive, and I listened to all of this in disbelief. Having heard of this plan I called him and told him I was taking the car to actually experience it and see if I concur with his opinion.

Initial Opinion: commanding seating position offering the driver a fantastic view of the road. This allows you to really throw the car around because you can actually see the front end of your car. The cloth seats are very comfortable and climate control works rather well. OE fog lamps do a pretty good job and the 100/90 bulbs on the car did a great job of lighting up the road in front of me. ABS/EBD is a great source of comfort while driving and does a decent job of bringing the car to a stand still.

Drive up to NICE road - MYS road junction: Given that I wasn't too familiar with the car the first few kms were spent making myself as comfortable as possible with the car and its handling.

1. In-city driving and handling: Cornering in city is effortless and the high seating position makes overtaking and maneuvering a breeze. Raw power isn't a positive for in-city driving and the sx4 performs well. The suspension though on the stiffer side soaks up the little bumps and holes in the road thereby providing a very comfortable ride. I did not take her beyond 3500 rpm and yet she accelerated with ease. I did however have to consciously keep the car in one gear lower than what is ideal for FE in order to achieve that acceleration.

On the NICE road I slotted her into 5th @ 110 kmph and took her up to 160 kmph with little or no effort. The tyres were holding up rather well and there was no perceptible understeer in the car. Braking was good and reassuring. At the end of the road there is a winding stretch that connects to the highway and the car cornered at 75 kmph with no squealing from the stock Vectras.

The EPS is a little heavy initially but it is precise and responds to the slightest input. No vagueness here and that certainly boosts a drivers confidence.

MYS road - Cafe Coffee Day, Maddur - MYS road, NICE road junction: Tadu. Rajiv and Rahul joined us (prabhu and me) on Mysore road and we took off from there toward the coffee day at Maddur.

2. Acceleration: I finally had an opportunity to open her up and test the car for its potential. She accelerates smoothly and is quite happy to rev all the way up to 6500 rpm, which is about where the power starts to drop off. 0 - 140 is effortless and slight undulations on the road are soaked up. I was changing gears anywhere between 4500 - 6000 rpm. A word of advice, 5th gear before hitting 145 kmph is detrimental to maintaining the momentum and acceleration.

3. Tyres: The car maintained its poise at all times and it was only twice that I felt insignificant understeer which was very easily corrected. Can perhaps be attributed to stock tyres.

Speaking of tyres, I am in complete disagreement with everyone who complains about the Vectras. I had no grip issues cornering at 150 kmph, no squealing under braking, no loss of control while braking or any scary moments that made me want to spend 6000 rupees on a set of PP2's or S-drives or any other tyre. I was very happy with tyre performance. Before you start questioning whether I was driving hard or not, let me reiterate that I was driving rather hard, revving hard and not slowing below 120 kmph at any corner. Despite all that the car remained planted on the road at all times.

4. Driving Comfort: Again the high driving position is a boon and gives me, the driver, complete confidence to throw the car into a corner with no loss of control.

5. Handling: The suspension is great, adding tremendously to my growing fondness for this car. GC is quite high and whilst that may be seen as affecting handling, I for one felt no discomfort even at high speeds. Rahul mentioned that high GC meant increased air flow beneath the car at speeds over 120 kmph leading to slight vagueness and the steering consequently feeling lighter, which may be true. However, I did not feel any of that and neither did prabhu. As I said, the car remained solidly planted at all times.

6. FE: The car responds and comes to life when driven hard and that automatically means FE on this drive wasn't good at all. Having tanked up before leaving, the needle was about 1 bar above half tank when I parked in the basement after the drive. I can only guess that she returned a mileage of about 8 km/lt. Not exactly music to one's ears but performance comes at a cost, which in this case is about 4 km/lt at Rs.60/lt. IT ADDS UP!! I am not complaining though for I believe the car returns an average of 12 km/lt, under city driving conditions.

7. Overall Impression:

- The car is fun to drive, especially on the highways, but must be driven hard to be fun.
- The lack of torque and zip at lower rpm's is evident and can be off-putting if what you look for is 'get up and go'. The sx4 is not a fun car to drive at anything below 3000 rpm. Having said that, for the kind of traffic there is on city roads, pray tell me why you would want outright acceleration?
- The engine note is addictive and a pleasure to listen to. NVH levels at high speeds is very good and well controlled.
- Throw and intensity of the beams is good and with HID's it would be similar to driving during the day.
- The adjustable steering height is a very useful feature on highway runs, completely taking away the strain of driving.

I now turn it over to tadu, rahul, prabhu and rajiv to post their views, given they were part of the drive and got to see the car in action.

Cheers all!
Kartik
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Old 28th October 2008, 03:20   #2
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Awesome, I know that engine sound that you love. It sounds great when pushed.
Efficiency however, I only get between 8-9 in the city and one Delhi-Jaipur-Delhi trip I got a little above 11. Recently though its going 9.1-9.2 types.
Tyres, well - never really used the Vectra so cant say.
Though I did once take it up to about 170 on the road going to the IGI and the steering was wobbling quite a bit, other than that felt didnt feel too uncomfortable.
I have HIDs and completely agree with you.
Sigh, lovely car aint it?

Last edited by anantnehru : 28th October 2008 at 03:21.
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Old 28th October 2008, 08:27   #3
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Kartik, as per the observations of others on the forum, the steering is vague, and the ride stiff. Looks like you have a totally different opinion!!

Lets see what Tadu and gang have to say about that.
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Old 28th October 2008, 15:31   #4
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Was quite amazed by how the SX4 handled in the hands on Karthik. Completely contrary to the reviews which have been doing the rounds.

I think the primary difference is the driving style. Karthik is a very smooth driver, and I think the SX4 handles very well as long as you are not very aggressive with the steering input. Of course, I have not driven it, but followed it closely, and have been left with a new found respect for the SX4, and its driver.

If anybody is planning to pick a car in this segment, please dont give the car a pass only based on the reviews. Give it a good test drive before deciding.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kartikkumar View Post
3. Tyres: The car maintained its poise at all times and it was only twice that I felt insignificant understeer which was very easily corrected. Can perhaps be attributed to stock tyres.

Speaking of tyres, I am in complete disagreement with everyone who complains about the Vectras. I had no grip issues cornering at 150 kmph, no squealing under braking, no loss of control while braking or any scary moments that made me want to spend 6000 rupees on a set of PP2's or S-drives or any other tyre. I was very happy with tyre performance. Before you start questioning whether I was driving hard or not, let me reiterate that I was driving rather hard, revving hard and not slowing below 120 kmph at any corner. Despite all that the car remained planted on the road at all times.
Those tires are amazing value for money!!! Sure as hell these are better than the S-Drives which I made an unfortunate aquaintance with recently. And how much did you say these things are? Rs. 1500 each? I am so tempted to try these for myself.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kartikkumar View Post
The car is fun to drive, especially on the highways, but must be driven hard to be fun.
So which is more fun, the SX4, or the Peted Swift?
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Old 28th October 2008, 16:16   #5
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Nice post Kartik, quite detailed I must say.. and your write-up feels as if I was driving my own SX4, thanks!

I had changed the stock JKs on my esteem to Bridgestone Potenza and believe me the difference was quite evident, both in ride quality as well as NVH levels

One more thing on SX4 you can test though: I would advice a bit of offroading, it is a revelation. I went off-roading, not planned but had to go as the main road was closed and it was raining heavily. It performs very well for a car in rough and slushy roads.
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Old 28th October 2008, 16:56   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by benbsb29 View Post
Kartik, as per the observations of others on the forum, the steering is vague, and the ride stiff. Looks like you have a totally different opinion!!

Lets see what Tadu and gang have to say about that.
The EPS behaves slightly differently from the more conventional HPS on most vehicles; but it is not vague and is responsive too It is just that one needs to adapt to it a bit. Though I did not buy it, I tried it thrice and this is what I felt.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tadukuttan View Post
I think the primary difference is the driving style. Karthik is a very smooth driver, and I think the SX4 handles very well as long as you are not very aggressive with the steering input. Of course, I have not driven it, but followed it closely, and have been left with a new found respect for the SX4, and its driver.
My feeling it is not about being smooth or aggressive on the steering, but just adapting to it just the same way one needs to adapt between Petrol & Diesel
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Old 28th October 2008, 17:11   #7
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Ever since I drove the SX4 for the first time, I had no doubts about the finesse of that chassie or the suspension. The prime undoing factor on that car is the Safari-like GC and the lack of VVT or whatever Suzi calls it.

I had the chance of following the SX4 closely in Tadu's elantra. Yes, it did understeer a bit. But thats only due to the GC. But from Karthik's driving its obvious that the car responds very well to smooth inputs on the steering wheel. I have seen a couple of other friends wrench the steering wheel and the car looked like it could not take a bend at 120. Karthik managed to keep ahead of the Elantra and we were easily doing 160s.

Like Tadu said, we all were very impressed with the findings of the drive that night. Hence this thread, to put to rest some not so true findings. Drop the GC by about 25mm and see what a handler this car can be. Memo, are you listening?
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Old 28th October 2008, 17:32   #8
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Thats refreshing and now i see someone else also has similar opinions of the car, though my stint was a brief 10 km TD at much slower pace. I somehow prefer the EPS compared to fluid assisted after living with the swift for last 2 years, it gives you direct feeling and with right size tyres its pretty direct.

Today while doing IRR i was taking the turn with one hand on steering while shifting gears and i love the way the steering felt, compared to the Crv's fluid assisted one i drove for 800 kms last 2 days.

I will put my money in Sx4 diesel if i were to upgrade in the future, perfect fit for my needs, love that GC also.

@tadu: Those tyres are NOT 1500, surely will be in 3500 range
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Old 30th October 2008, 18:28   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tadukuttan View Post
Was quite amazed by how the SX4 handled in the hands on Karthik. Completely contrary to the reviews which have been doing the rounds.

I think the primary difference is the driving style. Karthik is a very smooth driver, and I think the SX4 handles very well as long as you are not very aggressive with the steering input. Of course, I have not driven it, but followed it closely, and have been left with a new found respect for the SX4, and its driver.

So which is more fun, the SX4, or the Peted Swift?
Quote:
Originally Posted by mclaren1885 View Post
I had the chance of following the SX4 closely in Tadu's elantra. Yes, it did understeer a bit. But thats only due to the GC. But from Karthik's driving its obvious that the car responds very well to smooth inputs on the steering wheel. I have seen a couple of other friends wrench the steering wheel and the car looked like it could not take a bend at 120. Karthik managed to keep ahead of the Elantra and we were easily doing 160s.

Like Tadu said, we all were very impressed with the findings of the drive that night. Hence this thread, to put to rest some not so true findings. Drop the GC by about 25mm and see what a handler this car can be. Memo, are you listening?
This is high praise coming from 2 of the best drivers I know of. I guess it was only a matter of time before some of their skill rubbed off onto yours truly

Tadu to answer your question, I pick the peted swift over the SX4 anytime and all the time. That's the primary reason this review is titled a review by a diesel torque addict, to make it clear where my preference lies.
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Old 31st October 2008, 12:16   #10
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Dude - I was in the car, and I was impressed (I drive an elantra) by the way this car was moving. I had to work hard to keep up with him in the city as the driving position is phenomenal advantage.
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Old 31st October 2008, 12:33   #11
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A diesel SX4 is whats needed. The feel of the steering could be better. But its precise, kind of of point and shoot with confidence.
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Old 31st October 2008, 13:04   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tadukuttan View Post
And how much did you say these things are? Rs. 1500 each? I am so tempted to try these for myself.
Rs.1500 for a 17" tyre ? Don't think so. The 12" Zen tyres cost 1.5k.
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Old 31st October 2008, 14:29   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by esteem_lover View Post
Rs.1500 for a 17" tyre ? Don't think so. The 12" Zen tyres cost 1.5k.
John, no one in the right minds would run 17'' on Bangalore roads unless they own a Hummer or they are looking for other ways to get rid of their teeth than visiting the painful, torturous dentist .

These guys are talking about 15''.
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Old 31st October 2008, 14:43   #14
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Ok, my mistake. Even for a 15" tyre, price should be more.
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Old 31st October 2008, 15:49   #15
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Quote:
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Ok, my mistake. Even for a 15" tyre, price should be more.
Ok, it is actually 16" in the ZXi & 15" in the VXi. Kartik was driving a ZXi, I guess.
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