The SX4 is the love child of both Suzuki and Fiat. This compact small four wheel drive is a very unique vehicle that for the most part is considered somewhat unnecessary. There is nothing overtly wrong with the vehicles with only a few common known faults that are not expensive to have rectified when compared to similar vehicles on the market.
The problem we see with them is they don’t actually fit into any vehicle class of their own. Appearance wise they fit in the compact hatch category, comparable to a Toyota Corolla a Mazda 3 or even its little brother the Suzuki Swift. Mechanically the SX4 is in the SUV class. It runs a Four Wheel Drive system, is slightly higher off the ground than vehicles in the hatch back class and runs a larger capacity petrol engine. However they are not high off the ground like a CRV is or a Nissan X Trail. For this reason the SX4 floats between the compact hatch class and the SUV like a awkward overweight teenager on prom night.
There really is no real need to actually own one. If you are in need of a compact hatch than the Mazda 3 or the Suzuki Swift would be a better choice, with less mechanical components to maintain, cheaper fuel costs and cheaper purchase costs. If a SUV is what you need the SX4 probably won’t meet your needs. Small like a hatch, low to the ground and hardly the appropriate vehicle for off road, camping or beach driving. Albeit capable of actually doing some mild versions of these.
- They are very sensitive to any fuel used other than 98 octane. The manufacturer recommends with a sticker inside the fuel cap that ethanol based fuels are suitable. In my mechanical opinion you might as well add cordial to your fuel tank. The SX4 and the Swift are very very common for oxygen sensor faults caused by the use of any fuel other than 98 Octane. The result is the check engine light will come on and your fuel consumption will sky rocket. Once this happens the oxygen sensors more then likely will need to be replaced. If the owner continues to use anything other then 98 octane you can look forward to sensors replacement with every service.
- They are common for rear diff axle seal leaks. Not an overly expensive fix however its a leak that starts from a four wheel drive component that most consumers neither know they have nor need. A repair that is totally avoidable if you just went with the Swift which is a Front Wheel Drive.
- Movement in the electric steering rack. This seems to present itself in the SX4 after several years and a lot of kilometres. Its not a cheap fix as the fault is internal inside the rack and requires a complete steering rack replacement.
- The water pump set up on these vehicles is ridiculous, the pump is about the size of a HP printer and half the engine has to come off to replace this pump. Once they leak this can be a bit of an expensive repair.
- Mag wheels fitted mean a unique tyre size is required and is more expensive than the Swift or Corolla Tyre size.
The pros to the SX4.
If you need a 4WD because your prone to accelerating into hard turns in slippery conditions and wondering why your car now pirouettes down the street, perhaps you do need the 4WD system.
Some of our elderly clients like the hight of the vehicle for ease of entry and exit from the car.
Its very cheap on fuel.
They do not run a timing belt, rather a chain, this in theory will never need replacing, greatly reducing service costs.
Overall the SX4 is not a bad car at all and we have no issues advising people to purchase them, we just feel that for most people its not needed. Either get the little brother, the Swift, or if you need a SUV the SX4 just won’t cut it.