- We like...Value, versatility
- We don't...Noisy at speed
Pint-sized off-roader that also sells as the Fiat Sedici. The SX4's a better buy, though The SX4 is a bit of a puzzle. It’s bigger than a Ford Fiesta or a VW Polo, but smaller than a Focus or a Golf. Then the SX4’s got the chunky tyres and high-set seating that hint at off-roading ability. But most models are front-wheel drive only. If you choose the range-topping 4Grip version, though, it has full-on four-wheel-drive, there at the jab of a button. This, we’re told, makes it a capable friend on an icy road or if you’ve a muddy track to negotiate.
So what is it: a puffed-up rival for the Fiesta, or a teeny alternative to a Golf, with a dash of off-roading potential thrown in? It’s a bit of each.
Above all, it’s a handy little motor. Fiat sells its own version, the Sedici, which is the SX4 but with Fiat badges. The SX4 offers more for your cash, though. Whichever make you pick, the lofty driver’s perch lifts you a foot or so above the pack, which is a boon when emerging from tight road junctions. While it’s longer than most Polo-sized cars it’s also a touch narrower, so you can edge through gaps that they can’t. And the car’s big screen and low waist means you can see to do this. The cabin looks big without actually being so – there’s room for five but not their luggage, while those in the back must endure a flat bench with a short-ish back. Space for the driver and his companion in the front is good and the wide-opening doors make the slight climb-up into the cabin easy. The rear seats split double-roll forward to make way for long loads, though the boot’s barely wide enough to swallow a fold-up pram.
The SX4 grips well and steers directly. The suspension is easily unsettled on anything other than a smooth road and feeds the occasional ‘thump’ into the cabin, but not enough to ruin the fun. The 1.6 engine sounds thrashy at high revs and buzzes at motorway speeds. But it hauls well, pulling strongly from low revs. Its near-40mpg average is pretty good, its 165 g/km of CO2 emissions, average. Swapping gears feels gritty from cold, but smooth once everything’s warmed through. A switch hidden between the front seats directs drive to the front wheels, all four or, when in ‘auto’ to wherever needs it. You should stay in two-wheel-drive for best economy.
The cabin is well equipped. You won’t find the premium soft-touch plastics you’ll find in posher makes but everything looks good and as if it’ll last well. The only surprise is a keyless system which means you can open the car by merely touching buttons on the door or boot and drive off at the twist of the ignition switch. But the immobiliser fob you must pocket to work this clever system is monster-sized.
Running costs are high – servicing comes round every 9000 miles, while insurance is group 6 – higher than for many other small cars. And, because it’s such an in-betweenie, you mayn’t get much of a price should you part-exchange it later for another make.
It’s handy, sure. But its oddball nature comes at a cost.
- 0-60 mph11.5sec
- Insurance groupsgroup 6D
Motors.co.uk value verdict: