The Truth About Cars » suzuki sx4 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sat, 26 Jul 2014 14:51:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » suzuki sx4 New Suzuki SX4 Goes Unnoticed In Geneva Tue, 05 Mar 2013 22:51:10 +0000

Irony is a cruel mistress. Just as Suzuki’s American auto sales arm is winding down, the newest version of the SX4 was revealed at Geneva, and it doesn’t look bad at all – save for the awful snot green shade.

A switchable AWD system will allow drivers to choose between one of four modes. Two super low emissions powerplants, both 1.6L 4-cylinders (a gas and a diesel), will be offered. The diesel emits just 110 grams of CO2 per km, nearly in line with the benchmark 100 grams that the Prius emits. The diesel gets a 6 speed manual while the gas car loses a cog. A CVT is the only choice for those who don’t want to shift. The Hungarian-built SX4 will obviously not be coming to the States, but there’s a chance that Canadian-plated versions may end up on American roads sometime in the future.

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Suzuki Death Watch 16: SX4 Gets A New Face Wed, 06 Feb 2013 13:00:35 +0000

While the US won’t get the Suzuki SX4 any more, the flow of cars isn’t being cut off from Canada. Might we see this facelifted version of the SX4 (meant for the Chinese market) appear in the Great White North? The Canadian International Auto Show is only a couple weeks away, but we’ve got no indication about Suzuki debuting anything new at the show. Only time will tell.

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Suzuki Autos, Alive And Well In Canada Tue, 06 Nov 2012 14:00:10 +0000

American Suzuki Motor Corp may have gone bust, but Suzuki cars will continue to be sold in Canada, where the SX4, Kizashi and Grand Vitara are still offered (but not the Equator pickup).

Suzuki Canada’s Bill Porter confirmed to The Globe and Mail that Suzuki cars would continue to be sold here, despite the U.S. shuttering their operations. Suzuki Canada is independent of the American Suzuki Motors, the Globe quotes Mr. Porter as saying the Suzuki’s vehicles play better in Canada than the United States.

Mid-sized vehicles represent a bigger segment of the U.S. market than the Canadian market, which, because of higher gas prices than the United States, is more skewed to the smaller vehicles Suzuki produces.

“The product mix is very different,” Mr. Porter said in a telephone interview. “We’ll continue to operate in the usual manner.”

Now that Canada will go it alone with Suzuki sales, it’s worth looking at a snapshot of the brand, and where it stands in the Canadian market.

The SX4 remains a best-seller for Suzuki Canada, outselling the Ford Flex, Buick Regal and Honda Fit in 2011. The Grand Vitara outsold the Hyundai Genesis, Acura TSX and Mazda MX-5. While the Kizashi is a non-entity in Canada, the all-wheel drive vehicles  do have a following due to Canada’s climate.

While Canadians love smaller, fuel-efficient vehicles, Suzuki products are neither cheap nor particular miserly when it comes to fuel consumption. The Grand Vitara range starts at $26,995, $1,000 more than a Subaru Forester (Subaru being one of the most popular imports in the Canadian North) and Subaru’s dealer network and reputation and undoubtedly superior to Suzuki. AWD variants of the Ford Escape and Honda CR-V are $1-$2,000 more on average, and Canadian buyers clearly have no problem paying the difference. The AWD Grand Vitara gets about 20 mpg combined, while a Forester gets 23 mpg and a CR-V manages 25 mpg combined.

The all-wheel drive SX4 is billed as “Canada’s most-affordable crossover”, and at $20,795, it’s $100 cheaper than a poverty-spec Impreza, which is as much a “crossover” as the SX4. A front-drive sedan SX4 can be had for $15,495, cheap for Canada, but still pricier than a base model Kia Rio. Fuel economy for the AWD versions is around 25 mpg combined, while the Impreza manages between 28 and 30 mpg. The Rio, even with its newly adjusted rating, manages 32 mpg.

The big question mark, naturally, is future product. Canadian and U.S. divisions are often given identical product due to the cost of certifying them for sale in North America, the near identical certification standards and the overlapping tastes of Canadian consumers. But without America to worry about, Suzuki Canada has a good shot of offering some very compelling product to Canadian consumers.

Vehicles like the Swift, which has been universally acclaimed by the automotive media in Europe, would be a good start. The Hungarian-built Swift is immune from being hamstrung by a high yen, and looks fresh and attractive. Presumably, its build quality and driving dynamics are enough to win it praise from notoriously fickle European outlets, and Suzuki doesn’t have to worry about its hatchback-only body style or diesel powertrains – Canadians are much more receptive to these configurations than American consumers. The gasoline engines will likely need to be upgraded, as a 1.2L 96 horsepower gasoline engine is inadequate for our roads, but the Swift Sport’s 1.6L 136 horsepower engine will do just fine.

Whether Suzuki brings smaller cars to Canada is up in the air. The auto journalist in me wants to say yes, while the business-minded skeptic side leads toward no. However, Suzuki has previously displayed the Ignis subcompact and even the Wagon R kei car at Canadian auto shows in the past. Mitsubishi is bringing the Mirage to Canada, while Chevrolet is already selling to Spark here, but both are built in low-cost countries (Thailand and India respectively), while the Alto is built in either Japan or India – and Indian exports seem unlikely at this time. We emailed Suzuki about this (at an admittedly late hour) and are awaiting their comment.

While Suzuki sales were down nearly 40 percent last year compared to 2010, they’ve been slowly crawling back; sales were up one percent year-to-date in 2012, though nowhere near previous levels. Suzuki sold 5625 cars in 2011, down from a recent high of over 13,000 cars in 2008. But in the last four years, the quality of new vehicles on sale in Canada has risen markedly. The Hyundais, Kias and even domestic cars of 2008 have come so far in 4 years that Suzuki will have to make a serious effort product-wise to gain traction in the marketplace. The good news is that Canadian consumers are more open-minded to type of vehicles that Suzuki sells, and they’ve yet to abandon Suzuki wholesale. The company’s decision to stick with Canada should be applauded. Hopefully they get what they need product-wise to see it through.



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2012 Suzuki S-Cross Concept: This Is The New SX4 Fri, 10 Aug 2012 11:48:54 +0000

What you see above is the S-Cross concept from Suzuki, set to bow at the Paris Auto Show in September. But, this C-segment concept isn’t a new model, instead a replacement for the Suzuki SX4.

The current Suzuki SX4 was a product of a relationship between Suzuki and Fiat. However, this time around, Suzuki has gone it alone, developing the SX4 replacement completely on their own.

Details in addition to the official images are scarce. However, considering Suzuki continues to describe the vehicle as a “C-segment crossover” expect it to have the same all-wheel-drive goodness of the current SX4. Engines will probably vary, as per usual, between Europe, Japan, and the Americas.

The S-Cross is a concept in name only. Whether wearing the S-Cross or SX4 nameplates, the concept will spawn a production model probably for the 2014 model year.

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Suzuki Death Watch 2: Brand Recognition And Spy Shots From Spain Wed, 18 Jul 2012 14:22:46 +0000

Yesterday, a whirlwind of spy shots uncovered what looks to be the SX4 replacement Suzuki will start shipping to lots later this year. So far, observations of the new pint-sized every man rally car look promising, including possible turbo power and a handsome, if unremarkable, interior. But, will it be enough to satiate the appetite of Anglo American tastes? Or does American Suzuki need to focus more on the brand image train?

Up until this point, we were of the belief the SX4 would receive a facelift versus a full model replacement for the 2013 model year. However, as the auto photogs have revealed, there seem to be some major dimensional changes between the camo car and the current model. Underneath the auto burka are some Kizashi like styling features, such as a revised grille and new headlamps, and what might possibly be an intercooler behind the lower grille.

But, if NPR’s Sonari Glinton’s street corner survey is any indication of the market, a new SX4 isn’t going to matter. After asking a few people in Ann Arbor, MI to name all the Japanese brands available in the US, the results were not surprising for the majority of us:

KATHY KENNEDY: OK. Toyota, Honda – that’s all that comes to mind.

JAMES HAMILTON: Oh, pretty much. Yeah. Toyota, Hyundai, Miata, Mazda, Lexus.

EILEEN KNEIPER: Toyota, Nissan, Honda. I think that’s it.

In an industry where reputation and image are everything, American Suzuki is hiding from the camera. Before any new product gives Suzuki the increase in sales it needs in order to sustain business in the United States and Canada, a major overhaul of their marketing is needed (like hiring someone to actually do marketing), focusing on the brand instead of this month’s incentives, so people know that Suzuki still exists.

Hear the lack of outcry? That’s the deafening silence of a brand’s once-loyal customers not caring enough to speak up.

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Time To Start The Suzuki America Death Watch? Mon, 16 Apr 2012 13:00:19 +0000

Kizashi apparently means “omen”, sign or “warning” – it also means “something great is coming”, but the only thing on Suzuki’s American horizons is a bleak future.

Suzuki sales have been dismal. The brand was down two percent last month, despite surging car sales. Suzuki has also consistently lost dealers since 2005, shedding 12 percent of its sales network in 2011 alone. Five years ago, the company moved over 100,000 units in the United States – in 2011, it was barely one quarter of their 2005 figure.

One dealer told Automotive News that 60 percent of dealers sell 5 or fewer new cars per month. With an aging lineup and a vague new product rollout schedule, Suzuki’s management appears to be focused on cutting costs rather than digging their heels in for the long-term. Reporting customer satisfaction data to J.D. Power has been canned by management, and the brand’s Twitter and Facebook pages are dormant. Advertising campaigns at both the regional and national level have been similarly lacking.

The drastic drop in sales since 2005 could also be correlated to the rise of Hyundai and Kia, whose products have made enormous strides in the last 5 years. It may have been somewhat rational to buy a Suzuki SX4 or Grand Vitara over a comparable Korean car, but nowadays, one would have to have a powerful reality distortion field to make that choice.

Suzuki’s future in America is even more tragic given that the brand’s best car, the Swift, isn’t even sold here. The Swift has been praised by numerous outlets, including EVO and Top Gear, two British snob rags of the highest order. At the Geneva Auto Show, the brand displayed a 75 mpg concept that used an 800cc engine and weighed 1600 lbs. If that’s not engineering ingenuity, not much else is. The Kizashi is a competent entrant into the mid-size category, but about to be left behind by the competition. The SX4 and Grand Vitara are hopelessly outdated, and the brand badly needs an injection of new product. About the only saving grace Suzuki has right now is India, but as Ed pointed out in his bit about Suzuki’s fortunes in the sub-continent, the brand could re-position itself to take Subaru’s low-cost, rugged AWD niche, now that Subaru is becoming what Audi once was. The SX4 AWD is the cheapest new car with AWD, and there’s even a small but high-quality aftermarket for it. Even if Suzuki goes under in America, they will always have their motorcycles – and I’ll have a source of cheap vehicles for my future rally campaign (with the low price of an orphan vehicle, buying spares and performance upgrades might be feasible).

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Pike’s Peak: 10-Minute Barrier Broken— Monster Tajima Runs 9:51 Sun, 26 Jun 2011 20:32:32 +0000
History made on the mountain just a few minutes ago: Nobuhiro “Monster” Tajima just ran 9:51 and change in his run to the Pike’s Peak summit. Sayonara, 10-minute barrier!
I’m not sure of the exact time, but the crowds on the mountain have been shouting “9:51! WHOOOO!” for a while now. Congratulations, Monster!

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My Chinese Car Is Bigger Than Your Western Car Sat, 19 Dec 2009 13:54:22 +0000 Mine is bigger than yours. Picture courtesy

There is an interesting analysis on Chinacarforums: China-produced Western cars tend to come out bigger than their Western siblings. Especially at the higher end. A made-in-China Cadillac STS is 124mm longer than the U.S. sister model. The wheelbase grew by 100mm. A Chinese Audi A6 L has gained 97 mm in length over the Made-in-Ingolstadt relative. A BMW 5-series, made at the Chinese joint venture with Brilliance, has gained a whopping 140 mm in length and wheelbase over the Bavarian model.

This odd trend persists to varying degrees even into the smaller models. Chinese Honda Civic: 12mm longer and 15 mm higher than the Made-in Japan type. The Chinese Corolla must have been fed growth hormones: 130 mm longer and 64 mm wider.  The only incredibly shrinking car is the Suzuki SX4: 46mm less in length, 25mm less in girth, and 50 mm less in height than the Japanese variety.

One explanation for the growth tendency: In China, a driver is common and cheap to hire. His monthly salaries are less than an U.S. insurance premium. Chinese tastes in cars are not unlike the Americans’: They want their cars big. Why Suzuki went to the pain of making the already small SX4 even smaller for China is anybody’s guess. Maybe the water was too hot in the car wash.

Bonus tip: The site has a (for a Chinese site) amazingly frank analysis of how blatant “homegrown” cars have copied their overseas “inspirations.”. The most outrageous copy according to their analysis:  The FAW Redflag HQ3 v.v. the Crown Majesta. The HQ3 received a 90 percent similarity rating. Duh, it’s a badge-job.

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