At least in the U.S., Suzuki always operated on the fringes of the auto industry. Save for those vehicles it rebadged for General Motors, Suzuki never seemed to match up well against the competition. The cars were either a half-size smaller than the competition — see Kizashi — or had no discernable competition whatsoever, like the inexplicable X-90.
Likewise, the dealers never had the best real estate, at least from my experience. Here in Columbus, for example, the local Suzuki dealers were set up in corners of Budget Car Rental locations. Hardly a recipe for success.
Shame, really, because Suzuki built some wonderfully interesting cars.
I mentioned the Kizashi, which I found to be a fun — if a slightly small — family car. I’d love to find an old Swift GTi as a cheap hot hatch, and the current Swift sold overseas is said to be spectacular. But today, we look at a model sold here recently, the 2009 Suzuki SX4. With some wrench time, this could be a fascinating alternative to other all-wheel-drive sports sedans.
Bear with me. The funky, high-top sneaker styling of the SX4 is cool and functional, with plenty of cargo room. But despite the departure of Suzuki from our market, there remains a tuner culture around this car, ready to take the SX4 to street machine or off-road adventurer. Road Race Motorsports, best known for Mitsubishi tuning, offers plenty of options, including a turbo kit that should produce around 220 horsepower.
Realistically, this is folly. It would likely take $8,000 in parts to make this aging hatch perform similarly to a Subaru WRX, which still has factory support, a huge aftermarket, and a massive online community of enthusiasts. But the appeal of standing out from the pack is ever present.
For those who choose to venture down the rocky path without thousands of forum fanboys to assist, I salute you.