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What's new? Suzuki SX4 Crossover

Suzuki’s new C-segment crossover aims to capture the best traits of both the Swift and Grand Vitara. To strike that balance, the Japanese OEM turned to UK roads

 

The 2013 Geneva motorshow saw Suzuki debut its new, global C-Segment contender. The latest generation SX4 Crossover is a brand-new car from the ground up following a four-year global development program. In that time, the whole concept of the crossover changed to a focus on strength and lightness.

“We had two major priorities in this project,” explains Yasushi Sasaki, vehicle line executive, automobile engineering. “The first was safety, as we wanted to achieve as high a NCAP rating as possible, and the second was with the car's weight. We wanted to make it as light as possible to aid both economy and CO2, on a platform specifically designed to be a crossover. “

To achieve this, the SX4’s chassis was comprehensively redesigned to include high-tensile steel where possible, with only a small section of the car’s floor carried over from the previous generation. Lessons learned with the application of this material, and the computer-aided engineering carried out to support it, will now become a core feature of all new Suzukis.

In order to ensure the new car delivered competitive ride performance, the SX4 Crossover underwent a vigorous testing program. Initially developed at Suzuki’s test facility at Ryuyo, Japan, the car was then brought to Europe for a two-week period to fine-tune the car’s ride and handling.

“We took the car specifically to the UK to tune the car’s ride, in terms of spring rates and dampers, for the European market” explains Sasaki. “Prior to this, we developed the Swift in the UK too, over a similar two-week period. We’ve found the roads in the UK are the best for damper tuning; for us, it has to be done in the UK.”

Suzuki uses the findings of its European testing as the rule-of-thumb for its global settings, in terms of ride and handling as well as crash safety. “We start with the European market first, mainly because the Russian and Chinese markets tend to follow the European regulations,” explains Sasaki. “It just makes sense for us to start with the European spec, and then change it accordingly.”

The revisions aren’t solely dictated by market, each model is also tailored to deliver a very different driving experience. “For the European market, the car was set-up to deliver good handling, akin to the Swift,” says Sasaki. “For the AWD version, the aim was to deliver a car that could rival the Grand Vitara. Meanwhile, in the Chinese market, the focus is on a more comfortable ride, so the damper and spring rates are optimized to what each market wants.”

It should come as no surprise that in wanting to deliver a crossover that blends the performance of both the Grand Vitara SUV and Swift hatchback, that the SX4 Crossover was benchmarked against its fellow Suzuki models. “As this is a crossover, it has to deliver a good level of control and comfort, both on-road and off-road, hence why we used our Swift and Grand Vitara models as benchmarks,” explains Sasaki. “But from a packaging perspective, we looked at the Qashqai and similar crossovers too.

“The biggest task we faced in this development was to hit our target weight,” he concludes. “Ensuring it was light enough to hit the CO2 and fuel economy targets, whilst being strong and rigid enough to deliver a good ride quality both on and off-road was certainly a challenge.”

 

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