Although when it arrives later this fall you might have a hard time distinguishing the new “SportBack” from the current SX4, don’t let that discourage you. It may look the same, but the 2010 SX4 SportBack will be accompanied by some welcome performance updates.
One modest, though impressive, feature that will be continued is Suzuki’s Garmin Nuvi navigation device that pops up out of the top of the dash. Unlike other in-dash units that are not designed specifically with the expectation that they will at some point be replaced with a newer model, this unit is easily removed if it breaks.
The news isn’t all rosey for Suzuki though, with vehicle sales down 78% last month from a year ago. Something the Japanese is hoping to rectify in the future with their confidence firmly placed on the SX4’s shoulders. For 2010, the new addition is the SportBack five-door hatchback version. As opposed to the “crossover” image that the current SX4 hatchback is meant to convey, the SportBack is meant to project a more driver and payment-oriented image. The new model features a lower ride height, an aerodynamic kit complete with chin spoiler, rear deck spoiler and side skirts, low-profile tires on 17-inch rims, and the absence of the crossover version’s roof rack. While the existing SX4 crossover version is sold with all-wheel drive, the SportBack will be front-wheel drive only. In any version, the 2010 SX4 will benefit from a 2-liter engine that produces 150 horsepower, up from 143, and a 2 mile-per-gallon combined EPA fuel economy improvement of 26 mpg that is a byproduct of a newly available continuously variable transmission with paddle shifters, or new six-speed manual transmission.
The SportBack will be offered in one trim level. But the package will include standard; the aforementioned 17-inch wheels, integrated navigation, power windows, mirrors and locks, tilt steering wheel, trip computer, split folding rear seats, rear passenger floor vents, and a four-speaker AM/FM/CD audio system with MP3 jack and XM satellite radio compatibility.
For the performance craving crowd, Suzuki will offer a cat-back exhaust and cold-air intake package meant to add about 10 hp, along with new springs and sway bars for better handling. These options are a prelude to a future turbo kit that will arrive some time in the near future as well. All of these extras will be available through dealerships, similar to the Scion network of dealers that encourage owners to modify their cars through their accessories department.
Though pricing details have not been released, Suzuki expects the SportBack to represent about 15 percent of SX4 sales. Whether the SX4 is really positioned to take on the Honda Fit, Mazda3, and Mini Cooper remains to be seen.