labels: automotive, maruti udyog
Maruti brings SX4 to the fore news
By Sourya Biswas
04 August 2007

"Men are back", is how Maruti is aggressively promoting its newest offering in the premium sedan category - the SX4. But it seems that women too find Maruti''s new sedan worth a second look, especially the loyal Maruti users wanting to graduate from an 800 or Esteem to a newer product.

"We were initially interested in the Honda City, but having been satisfied Esteem users for four years, we found the SX4 from the same stable a better buy", says. Sushma Rai, a Dadar housewife.

Of course, the rival brand to take the biggest hit will be the Honda City ZX. Not only is the SX4 more aggressively priced, but also includes many premium features like tubeless tyres and adjustable tilt steering as standard fittings; even dual front airbags and ABS in the SX4 premium version, City.

The SX4 is one of three world strategic models, as Suzuki calls them, with the other two being the Swift and the Grand Vitara that Maruti plans to use to regain market share, especially beyond its forte of small hatchbacks.

The SX4 replaces the Baleno, which although quite a good car with considerable power and an excellent AC, never had the oomph factor. This is one complaint that the SX4 will not have to deal with. With large, elongated wrap-around style, muscular bonnet slab, extended wheelbase and high 190mm ground clearance, it looks like an attractive hybrid of luxury sedan and SUV.

This tallboy look is derived from its parent, the original SX4 that had been launched as a hatchback in Europe last year. The hatch had been designed by Italdesign and sold as the Suzuki SX4 in Europe (also as Fiat Sedici), while the elongated variant will be sold as the sedan version in India and China.

As for the interiors, the SX4 provides the maximum room in its class. With steering-embedded audio controls, climate control system with external / internal temperature display and height-adjustable driving seat, the SX4 provides features the City doesn''t, although the latter seems to have a better finish. The interior has a dual-tone theme but with a lot of plastic thrown in, albeit high-class. Leather seats are optional in the ZXI variant.

Additionally, with regard to anti-theft devices, the SX4 comes equipped with iCATS
(intelligent computerized ant-theft system), the factory-fitted immobiliser that works on digitally encrypted codes and is hence, tamper-proof. The car starts only after two codes, one on the electronic control unit (ECU) of the car and the other on the key-match. This is a mandatory requirement in advanced car markets.

The SX4 has a powerful engine with a maximum output of 102bhp@5500 rpm, and maximum torque of 15kg-m@4200 rpm, overpowering all other cars in its class. The nearest competitor is the Toyota Corolla at 125 bhp, and that is a good Rs3 lakh costlier.
Not only is the engine powerful, but it also delivers a decent mileage of 11 kmpl. However, on this account, the Honda City ZX beats it with a reading of 12+ kmpl.
But as regards top speed and acceleration, the SX4 is the clear winner.

Overall, the SX4, backed by Maruti''s excellent after-sales service, seems to be a great buy. Perhaps, with this product, Maruti will crack the A3 segment where it has had a 15 per cent market share, inspite having a stranglehold on 55 per cent of the country''s passenger car market.

With the SX4 being priced aggressively at Rs.6.54 lakhs and Rs.7.25 lakhs for the VXI and ZXI versions (ex-showroom Mumbai), it looks like Maruti has a winner on its hands, especially considering that the Honda City ZX Exi (base version) with a meagre 77bhp of engine-power retails at Rs7.13 lakhs (ex-showroom Mumbai).

However, this winner will win the actual race only if it is given adequate support in the form of an intelligent advertising campaign. The City''s premier position in the A3 segment is not only because of its features but also its excellent brand image. Also, with the introduction of the SX4, Honda may hit back with a variant that includes ABS and airbags, and then one of the SX4''s USPs of passenger safety will be nullified.

Of course, Maruti does have the option of bringing out a base model at a lower price-point, something that won''t be entirely unexpected since the SX4 has only two trims, unlike Maruti''s other offerings.

Whatever be the case, the future certainly seems bright for the Indian customer who now has global and local brands competing for his heart and his wallet, or her purse. This is certainly a welcome change from that bygone era when one had the choice of an Ambassador, a Fiat or a Maruti 800, with a Premier Padmini thrown in for variety.

A comparison of the base versions of the SX4 and its main competitor is given below:

Parameters

Maruti SX4

Honda City ZX

Dimensions

Overall length

4490 mm/176.77"

4390 mm/172.83"

Overall width

1735 mm/68.31"

1690 mm/66.54"

Overall height

1560 mm/61.42"

1495 mm/58.86"

Wheelbase

2500 mm/98.43"

2450 mm/96.46"

Ground clearance

190 mm/7.48"

160 mm/6.30"

Front track

1500 mm/59.06"

1455 mm/57.28"

Rear track

1495 mm/58.86"

1455 mm/57.28"

Front headroom

980 mm/38.58"

965 mm/37.99"

Rear legroom

870 mm/34.25"

925 mm/36.42"

Boot space

505 litre

500 litre

Kerb weight

1170 kg

1055 kg

Fuel tank capacity

50 litre

42 litre

Fuel efficiency

Mileage (highway)

14.9 km/litre

17.3 km/litre

Mileage (city)

9.7 km/litre

11.7 km/litre

Mileage (overall)

11 km/litre

12.8 km/litre

Performance

Maximum speed

175 Km/Hour

171 Km/Hour

0-100 kmph

12.3 seconds

14 seconds

80-0 kmph

28 metres

31.3 metres

Engine

Engine type

1.6L 16V DOHC

i-DSI

Displacement

1586 cc

1497 cc

Power

102bhp@ 5500 rpm

77bhp@ 5000 rpm

Torque

15kg-m@4200 rpm

12.8kg-m@2700rpm

Valve mechanism

DOHC

SOHC

No. of cylinders

4 cylinder

4 cylinder

Transmission

Transmission type

Manual

Manual

Gears/Speeds

5 Gears

5 Gears

Suspensions

Front suspension

Independent withMcPherson strut

McPherson strut With stabilizer

Rear suspension

Semi-independent Torsion beam

H-type torsion beam

Brakes

Front brakes

Ventilated discs

Ventilated Disc

Rear brakes

Drums

Drum

Wheels

Wheel type

Steel

Steel

Wheel size

15-inch

14 X 5 1/2 JJ

Tyres

195/65 R15

175 / 65 R14 (Tubeless)

Price(Ex-showroom)

Price (Mumbai)

Rs6.54 lakh

Rs7.13 lakh



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Maruti brings SX4 to the fore