Suzuki SX4: A Post-Modern SUV for Suzuki2
Suzuki’s new small Post-Modern SUV (or crossover, or sport wagon) joins its North American lineup after an introduction at the 2006 New York show in April, 2006. Sales are scheduled for late Summer 2006 in the States, and the U.S. and European spec versions will carry similar styling. The SX4 is the result of a joint project between Fiat and Suzuki, with production by Suzuki at their plant in Hungary and using a Suzuki platform. (The Fiat, called Sedici will, of course, not be seen Stateside.) While this product is well-suited for international markets, its appeal in the States is likely to be limited and largely driven by a combination of value-pricing and its relatively fuel-efficient 2.0L DOHC I4 drivetrain. North American buyers will choose between a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission.
SX4 is Substantial Move Above Grand Vitara
The SX4 is slightly larger than the 1999-2005MY Vitara and Grand Vitara, which was replaced by a new generation for the 2006MY. The SX4 wheelbase is only 21 mm longer than the Grand Vitara, though overall length is actually 43 mm shorter than the old Vitara, which was considered a truck-based SUV in its time.
The AWD system on SX4 does not require driver input, once it is set in one of three modes. These are 2WD, AUTO (AWD high), and LOCK (AWD lock). ABS and EBD are likely to be standard, with an electronic stability control program optional. This four-door SUV or five-door hatchback, depending on your perspective, will offer a gasoline-fed 2.0L DOHC 16v four-cylinder engine for the States, though there is a diesel for Europe. The engine will be mated to a standard five-speed manual or optional four-speed automatic transmission.
SX4 Expected to Prompt Drop of Aerio.
Suzuki is expected to drop the Aerio sedan and wagon from the U.S. lineup after the SX4 is launched. Aerio has not fared well in this market, selling fewer than 10,000 units in 2004CY. The Aerio launched for the 2002MY in sedan and wagon verisons, offering four-cylinder power and AWD for some models. The Aerio’s best sales year was 2003, when U.S. dealers managed to sell nearly 20,000 units. For small cars, Suzuki may continue to look to its GM-Daewoo relationship, as it did to bring us the Verona, Forenza, and Reno.