2009 Suzuki SX4: Bovine Engine Note
September 15, 2009
I scurried away from our Santa Monica offices early yesterday morning to attend an automotive event just north of us in Thousand Oaks, CA. Leaving just after the sun rose, I was pretty much assured of avoiding any of our notorious L.A. traffic, so I decided to tackle my favorite roads above Malibu. These thin ribbons of asphalt wind their way up from the beach, high up into the Santa Monica Mountains, and back down the other side right to my destination.
The SX4 performed much better than I expected. It's steering was communicative and precise, the suspension inspired confidence and the brakes never faded. It was actually, dare I say, fun. One thing I did notice was its cow-like engine/exhaust noise. On the highway it emits a muted mmmmmmmmmoooooooooooooo. Downshifts sound more like a surprised cow - mmmmmmmooooOOOOOOOO! Hard acceleration made it sound like an angry cow - MMMMMOOOOOOOO!
Aside from the bovine histrionics, the overall driving dynamics challenged me to become a better driver. The lack of underhood power encourages go-kart-like driving in the canyons. Lose momentum and the engine bogs heavily. Saw away at the steering wheel and you scrub off even more speed. By the time I reached the other side of the mountain, I was driving smoother while keeping the SX4 in the power.
On a final note, when adjusting the tilt of the steering wheel, the column lacks support - either in the form of friction or weight-countering springs. Once you pull the adjustment lever, the wheel and column drop like an anvil. And boy, that thing is heavy. I'm not sure if something's missing or broken, but it definitely feels wrong. Granted, most owners won't be adjusting their wheel as much as we do in our long-term lot.
Mark Takahashi, Associate Editor @ 14,006 miles