I’ve been sitting on this article for some time now, and as we draw nearer to the end of the year, it makes a lot of sense to talk about cars that South African’s could use for one of their favourite pastimes… ROADTRIPS!
As a kid growing up in Durban, we would go on family trips overseas, but whenever we travelled in SA, it was always a road trip. Up and down the coast, to Johannesburg, to Cape Town, to Warm Baths… wherever. One thing any road trip veteran will tell you is, you need space!
During this year I have been on a few launches with our friends from Japan, the Suzuki team. And they have offered up a number of great options into the motoring industry. Today however we are looking at their larger offering, the Suzuki SX4 and the Suzuki Ertiga.
The SX4 has grown up and what was once a puffed up hatchback (below left), is now a fully-fledged crossover, with space for just about anything you might want to throw at the versatile new model (below right).
What you need to know about the SX4
– The SX4 range offers 5 model options, which are all powered by the same 1.6 litre 4 cylinder engine (all petrol)
– There are 3 front wheel drive options (2 five-speed manual, and 1 Automatic Constantly variable transmission *CVT*), and 2 flagship AllGrip four-wheel drive options (manual and CVT options).
– All models have a 3 year/100 000 km warranty
– All models have a 3 year/90 000km service plan with a 3 year roadside assistance package
The entry level model is the GL 1.6 front wheel drive manual, which is the stock standard model but still boasts impressive features found across the range:
– ABS brakes with EBD
– Electronic Stability Program (ESP)
– Seven airbags
– Cruise control
– Bluetooth and MP3 capable infotainment system.
Then the GLX is a step-up, and amongst other things, offers a two-position reclining backrest for the rear seat. The adjustable seats also allow the cargo loading space to increase to an impressive 1 269 litres of space.
With a standard engine across the range, and no turbo option, the power output from the SX4 is stated at 86 kW at 6000 rpm, with a maximum torque of 154Nm at 4,400 rpm.
Finally the GLX AllGrip offers the height of comfort and control with the all-wheel drive facility.
This crossover is a spacious and comfortable drive. It drives like a car, while still offering the convenience of a higher ground clearance and more space in the back. Having tried both the manual and CVT options, I personally would go for the 1.6 manual AllGrip, although the lower level GLX would get the job done just as well. I found the CVT option a little sluggish, but still a performer on the open road, and in this particular range I just found myself enjoying the manual transmission more.
Some of the models offer drive mode options, to adapt the drive to the terrain you are facing. With a standard, sport and snow option you have the ability to adjust your drive experience to get the most out of your vehicle.
Would I buy? If I had a family or an active lifestyle that included carting bikes, golf clubs, sports equipment and the like around, yes! And I’d most like go for the AllGrip Manual as mentioned. With prices ranging from around R265 900 for the GL and up to R341 900 for the GLX CVT AllGrip (prices as at March 2014) the SX4 is value for money although possibly a little highly priced for the upper end of the range. What I wouldn’t mind seeing if the range expanded in the future, is a turbo charged diesel variant.
Other options in this range would include the Nissan Qashqai, Peugeot 2008 and the Ford EcoSport.
Later in the year, I went to East London with Suzuki for the launch of their new feature, the Suzuki Ertiga. The Ertiga is a completely different type of car. Possibly more aligned to the multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) genre although Suzuki lovingly refers to it as a LUV or Life Utility Vehicle. This car is quite simply a family or business all-rounder.
The key aspect to keep in mind here with the Ertiga is the fact that it has three rows of seats, allowing for up to 7 occupants in the car quite comfortably.
“The arrival of the Ertiga breaks new ground for Suzuki in South Africa,” says Francois van Eeden, Suzuki Auto SA’s national marketing manager. “The brand’s reputation for producing exceptional compact cars is already well established, and the Ertiga extends those virtues to the LUV segment for the first time. “
Now I’m not a family man, nor do I need to transport large cargo or materials ever, so this car is not aimed at me. So taking my small sports, or chunky SUV hat off, and looking at the Ertiga from the perspective of the intended audience, I can see heaps of value in the offering.
The Ertiga starts at around R174 900, and the competitors in this segment are vehicles along the lines of:
– Fiat Qubo (starting at around R200 990, but without the third row of seats),
– Nissan Livina (starting at around R193 600 also without the third row of seats) and of course,
– The Toyota Avanza (starting at around R190 100 and with the third row of seats for more passengers).
What I will give the Ertiga in this segment is that looks award and the drive award. The Toyota is a smooth drive, but I think in this comparison the Ertiga takes the all-rounder badge.
The Suzuki Ertiga range includes 5 model spec options and two transmission variants being either a 5 speed manual or 4 speed automatic gearbox:
From a service and warranty perspective, all models in the range come with a 3 year/100 000 km warranty, 4 year/60 000km service plan and a 1 year roadside assistance package.
Suzuki took us to East London as they wanted to show us an amazing initiative they had been working on. In the rolling hills of East London, Suzuki South Africa has been working with an initiative called Bottle2Build, whereby they are supporting the recycling of plastic bottles to be used for the building of schools in under privileged areas. The school Suzuki took us to while driving the Ertiga’s was the Bulugha Farm School which teaches around 174 pupils.
The Bulugha Farm school choir sang for us at the Ertiga unveiling, and then we loaded the kids up into the cars for a drive out to their school so they could show us what the school and the Bottle2Build initiative was all about.
With two journalists and around 4 kids in the car, the Ertiga performed well on the open roads. Although the 1.4 engine can take a little strain with a fully loaded vehicle, the Ertiga does deliver and gets the job done.
In my personal life, this is not the car for me, mainly because I don’t need that much space, and if I were going for a bigger car, I’d go the SUV route. However having said that, this is the perfect little car for a larger family or for a small business doing deliveries, the GL option would work wonders.
All in all it was a good, comfortable drive and as always Suzuki bring to the market a car that its owners can love and cherish, while they get on with their day to day lives.