Barring its early sales glory, Maruti-Suzuki has nothing to boast about the business generated by its upper C-segment contender; SX4. Except initial dream run when SX4 dethroned Honda City to become new king of C-segment, there is nothing Maruti-Suzuki can sound pompous about. Initially SX4 struck chord with masses as its punch line MEN ARE BACK got a good customer connect with SX4 sales even surging ahead of the then segment leader. However Maruti-Suzuki failed to keep this momentum going with SX4 began to lose its sheen in subsequent months. Launch of next generation Honda City augmented the SX4’s low demand worries and forayed of VW, Skoda and Nissan further plagued its overall commerce prospect. Even though Maruti tried to arrest falling sales with new version of SX4, still SX4 failed to mint moolah at box office of C-segment. Further nextv effort in revival chain came in terms of company plonking oil-burner under hood of SX4 in 2011 but then Hyundai’s all new Verna came along and acted as a genuine spoilsport for the reviving hopes of SX4. With plummeting sales number month we thought that it was only matter of time before Maruti-Suzukiwould call it a day though that never happened. Kudos to the unyielding approach of company, SX4 is nowagain back with a vengeance as Maruti has given another upgrade to its muscular workhorse. This time equipped with subtle yet crucial changes, both outside and inside, this new version has made its way into market with a clear aim to take head on with its all competitors. Now whether this time SX4 will be able to hit the nail on head or not; is what we reveal through road test of this upgraded version of SX4.
True to its inception theme, SX4 has always been manly and muscular in character. These virtues have been well retained in the new face lifted version of SX4. Front grill now feature multi-slated chrome bars with a soft cues of V-theme. Bumper which houses the fog lamps has got dual-colour tone for a contrasting look. Headlamps retain their wrap around and raked shape while high bonnet continues to give a bold stance to the front fascia of SX4.
Beefed up and muscular arches remained untouched to carry on the image of SX4 and addition of multi-spoke alloy wheels look terrific in the profile. Top model has got the wing mirror integrated indicators while lower trims have to be satisfied with black applique only. A-pillar kink as well as strong shoulder line exudes the aspect of panache in plenty and that really bode well for the overall appeal aspect of SX4.
Rear portion of the car is carried forward without any change with the same tail lamps featuring the crystal clear lenses. Though rear three quarter profile looks a bit stubby, still it won’t interfere with senses in a disturbing way. Rear bumper which is a bit pronounced now comes with integrated reflectors.
ABS & OBLIQUES
Step into new SX4 and one will be greeted by all new interior colour theme. Taking a hint from the Dzire’s bright cabin, SX4 now comes with all new black-beige dash board. Though the presence of beige is small still it is enough to make the things cheerful and lively.
Centre console features the same old design which now feels a bit dated though it still feels very tactile and intuitive. Chrome louvers around the centre console and side AC vents is a nice touch as it enhances the luxurious feel but the real spirited change has come in the form of faux wood finish on the side arm rests. These just look fabulous though use of darker shade would have made them even more adorable. Top model has got the fully integrated touch screen stereo with navigation facility though lower trims have the old Swift music system as standard fitment.
Illuminated key hole is a practical touch and so are the large intuitive easy-to-read dials. AC control unit is direct take away from Swift though it is no match to the chunky feel of round dials come as standard fitment in top end.
On Space front there is no change and SX4 continues to be a good and roomy 4-seater car. Absorption of 5th adult passenger is sure to cripple the prospects of comfortable sitting. Both rear and front benches are set high so one needs not to perform acrobatics while entering/exiting. Further though there is enough thigh support at the back, recline angle is not as perfect as we would like but this decision is totally subjective. Boot space of SX4 is its forte and the large trunk is voluminous in capacity. It can easily swallow the week long luggage though a tad high loading lip makes the move a bit laboured one.
DOSE OF WHEY PROTEIN
Maruti hasn’t changed the story under the hood as face lifted version continues to feature the same very successful DDIS version of multi-jet fuel technology patented with Fiat power train technologies. Unlike the Dzire and Swift version, SX4 comes with 90 PS version of this oil burner; thanks to use of variable geometry turbocharger which pumps out 15 PS more than the fixed geometry. All other specifications are same as this power plant features 16 valves, twin cam architecture and capable to push out 200 Nm of torque at relatively low 1750 rpm.
Idle of the motor is ridiculously silent and one is sure to be hard pressed to ascertain that really diesel is running in the veins of the SX4’s heart. Inside the cabin it is all hush and we bet that rear passengers can’t tell that they are travelling on the courtesy of a diesel mill. But then another surprise comes in the form of very linear power delivery just opposite to Dzire and Swift. Thanks to the variable geometry of turbocharger, SX4 is a pleasant surprise especially in urban commotion. Gear changes are far less than required by Swift or Dzire and super turbo starts kicking the power from the very low revolutions. Though it is still some points shy away from the benchmark of Fiesta, SX4 comfortably occupies the second place in its segment in terms of drivability. Even third gear at 30km/h is quite OK and can pull you cleanly from there without any hints of stalling.
The flip side of this linear delivery is that fans of the Swift’s strong surge of torque especially after turbo spools up will get disappointed. So in a trade off to pleasure and practicality, Maruti has surprisingly chosen the practicality part and by far in upper C-segment the SX4 diesel is one of the benchmarks in the practicality aspect.
Clutch of the SX4 is just fine for doing job as it strikes a perfect balance between lightness and heaviness. It feels progressive and shifts are snappy. Throws are short and there is nice mechanical feel to the manoeuvers though the slickness could be better as we have experienced in Vento. Still in combination, engine-transmission is a good enjoyable package. Brakes are well as they equip the SX4 with good stopping power.
SX4 features an independent McPherson strut up front along with anti-roll bar while at rear semi-independent torsion beam has been employed to do the duty of suspending the wheels. While 205 mm wide rubber is equipped in top end model Zdi, lower trim Vdi have to content with 195 mm profile. Setting of the suspension feels a bit stiff at the lower speed as the bumps gets straight into the car though increase in whack seems to settle down the issue a bit. SX4 feels more confident at mid-range as the additional weight at the front makes the car more stable at the highways. Undulations are absorbed quite well at the mid-range than dealt at lower engine speeds.
Handling of SX4 is good especially taking into account its dimensions which are voluminous. Also stubby boot along with fatty butt spoils some of the handling drama still SX4 never go out of the line alarmingly. You can still change the lanes unexpectedly but then reserve these stunting acts only for the emergency. Steering is though chunky but lacks the feedback at high speed though slow whack has some good communicating feel to it.
Maruti has made yet another desperate attempt to inject a new lease of life to ailing prospects of SX4. Although these changes, especially interiors, have been successful in making new SX4 a more contemporary and adoring car still we suspect whether these will be able to revive the fortunes of SX4 especially in the wake of intensified competition and all around attack of rivals. These changes though crucial still feel inadequate and insufficient as we were expecting a fully-fledged improved model from Maruti. Still the facelift could bring back the customers as the Maruti has not hiked the prices at all and that means SX4 still have ace of Value for Money up its sleeve. Now whether this ace will be able to provide it competitive edge or not; only future holds the answer.
Style& Substance 3.5/5 Ride & Handling 3.5/5
Interiors & Ergonomics: 3.5/5 Safety & Equipment 3.5/5
Power & Transmission 4/5 Fuel Efficiency 3.5/5
Value for Money 4/5