SX4 diesel test drive review

Posted: February 23, 2011 in Car reviews
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What is it that takes to become a winner? No one can answer this better than Maruti Suzuki. Unrivalled by the intense competition and in being the undisputed leader ever since its inception, Maruti has seen it all and done it all to stay well over the reach of its competitors. Every time the market demanded, Maruti has been up to the call, delivering what is most required and in a way that is known to wipe off the competition and set new benchmarks.
Now there was this new need in the market. Petrol prices were decontrolled and had been steadily on the rise. With more customers flocking to the diesel variants of the popular hatches and sedans, the waiting period ran into months. Once again Maruti was up to the task, and again bang on target with its timing and placement, bringing in the new SX4 diesel sedan at an introductory price of 7.74 lakhs, which is by far the cheapest diesel engine in a midsize sedan in India, at just a premium of Rs 77,000 over the equally specced petrol variant.
SX4, in India, is a model that has caught the fancy of the customers just by the sheer driving pleasure it offers. Be it in terms of engine performance or ride and handling performance, the petrol version was a class apart from most of the cars in its range. Despite all these, the ‘fuel guzzler’ tag had put reins on the sales of the car. So is the new diesel powered car capable of delivering what is required and trigger the sales of SX4? Let’s see.
The car has the same 1.3 lt DDis engine that powers the Swift and Dzire, but what differentiates it from the others is the Variable geometry turbocharger, that delivers 15PS of extra power and 10Nm of extra torque at a lower rpm. And it is also the first car in India to satisfy On Board Diagnostics-2 norms.
After being used to the 1.6 lt monster engine in the petrol car, I was quite apprehensive if the smaller yet heavier diesel engine fitted to the SX4, would be satisfying enough to drive and offer the brilliant dynamics of petrol variant. But I was in for a surprise. The car responded brilliantly to the throttle inputs and was on the job right form the word go. A couple of quick slick gearshifts, and in no time I was cruising at three digit speeds on the highway and never once the car appeared to show the slightest discomfort. The pickup was pretty much linear all the way and turbo lag was minimal. The noise and vibration level in the cabin was also good, compared to the other cars available. Quite impressive.
But you never know what lies ahead. A crowded section of the highway brought me back to reality that I am still driving on Indian roads and brought the car back into the second gear. Once the traffic cleared I slammed the throttle again, eager to get back to business. But then it was the long wait for the car to cross around 2300rpm(against the 1750 peak torque rpm claimed by Maruti), when finally the turbo kicked in again, which was quite agonizing. It can be quite a bit of bother while negotiating city traffic in second gear.
Once on the highway, I was keen to take the car to the limits and see if it has lost any sheen owing to its change of heart and muscles. The muscles indeed seemed softer, giving the car a good ride comfort which appeared to be more on the softer side than its petrol sibling. But on the flipside, it appeared to dance a bit more to the tune of the wavy roads, negating the good soft feel of the suspension setup. The soft setup has also taken a bit of the lustre of handling as well. Compared to the petrol car which supremely dealt with the winding curves and lane changes, the diesel variant seemed to roll a bit more on steep curves, though it was pretty much in control, thanks to the understeer factor. I had to fight a losing battle with the car to make it lose its grip even on tight high speed curves as well, with the car never seeming to reach its limits and pressing for more action. The lone disappointment was in terms of steering precision, where the clearness of the steering centre position in straight roads seemed to have gone down a bit, but making up for it with the good linear confident feel while overtaking and changing lanes. Brakes also felt good and exuding confidence and feel, but with a slightly unstable feel in the event of a wheel lock (in a non ABS car).
To sum it up, Maruti has given the customers a good performing diesel car in SX4, that almost lives up to the expectations of customers in terms of both driving dynamics and engine performance. And combined with the price tag Maruti has put on this car, there seems to be almost no reason why the car would not be the next hot seller for Maruti.

Comments
  1. Parag Bapat says:

    Gents,
    I have test deriven all diesel Sedans in last Three weeks and not once but each vehicle atleast twice and that too long test ride. I feel Sx4 Diesel is the Winner. 1.3 VGT engine,easiness to ride,Perfect Ground clerance(170mm),High riding position,Simple and decent interiors only those which most of us will use rather than unsed but paid fancy gadgets and premium looks. Guys you will not believe how silent is VGT DDis engine in sx4. If you need a Fuel efficeint,Reliable,drive pleasure and goos looking sedan then Sx4 Diesel is the Correct choice. Mileage thati got is 16.5 in city traffic and 19 on highway.

    Cheers……

  2. ravikant says:

    Hi Iam palnning to buy a diesel sedan inside 9 lakhs, having good comfort and engine pickup. Mileage is also required. pls suggest.

    • automate4u says:

      Regarding ride comfort, we would rate the SX4 much better than the Verna as it has far better passenger room isolation, especially at rear.
      Engine pickup is better for Verna at high rpm, but is sluggish at low rpm.
      And regarding mileage, we expect the SX4 to be better by at least 2kmpl.

  3. DRG says:

    How do you compare the mileage of SX4 diesel and verna diesel ?

    • automate4u says:

      Verna diesel gives a mileage of around 15-16kmpl overall. Since SX4 is very recently launched, there are no figures as to how much the customers are getting, but from our test and previous experiences with the diesel engines from Maruti, we expect it to give an FE of around 17-18 kmpl overall.

  4. automate4u says:

    Going by the specs, the verna diesel engine is better than the one in sx4 delivering more power and better torque.
    In terms of feel also, the Verna feels more powerful especially after the initial turbolag.
    But the power delivery in SX4 is more linear than Verna.

  5. rohan says:

    also in terms of engine noise as well…

  6. rohan says:

    hi,

    how do you compare the performance of the diesel engine of sx4 with the one on the verna?

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