So, when you get to the meat of the matter, what do you see? The now-familiar 1.3-litre DDiS engine, that’s what, coupled to an all-new transmission; it’s a bit of a surprise to open up an SX4’s hood and see a diesel, but there you go — it’s present and it’s called a ‘Super Turbo’ diesel engine. This powerplant puts out 88.7 bhp@4000 rpm and 20.4 kgm@1750 rpm, and it’s massaged by a new variable geometry turbocharger, which varies the angle of the vanes in order to provide the best possible airflow and efficiency. The ECU has been re-mapped, and there is a high pressure pump and fuel injection system (1600 bar), both of which help improve power delivery and efficiency. This car is also the first one in the country to conform to OBD-2 norms which are set to be introduced in India. OBD stands for ‘On Board Diagnostics’, which tell the driver if there is a problem with the car’s emission control system.
Again, this stands in contrast to the gearboxes in competing cars, which feel heavy and stiff in comparison; as a result, in combination with the light clutch pedal and excellent noise and vibration control, this SX4 is far easier on the body in stop-go traffic since it requires less physical effort to drive. It isn’t quite as refined as a petrol-powered car, but it comes pretty close. Notch one up for the SX4, then.
With 55 kg having been added, the suspension and brakes have been re-worked to compensate for the heavier engine and changed weight distribution. Where the petrol version is a fairly taut handler, the diesel SX4 is less precise when confronted with a series of corners, with more body roll than its petrol sibling; the ride quality has changed as well, with the suspension having taken on a more plush nature, especially at the rear. It tends a little towards the wallowy side of things, but most buyers will be more than happy with the way it absorbs undulations in the road. The brakes could use some sharpening up, though; they’re adequate, but there’s not much feedback from them.
In a refreshing move, Maruti Suzuki is offering exactly the same features on both the petrol and diesel versions of the car (the diesel comes in VDi, ZDi and ZDi with leather seats). Given that some manufacturers charge you more for a diesel variant yet give you less features, this is commendable — but it’s also a point of contention. Having splashed out more money to buy a diesel variant, a buyer in this part of the food chain is likely to want some distinguishing features that set his car apart; the diesel SX4 has none. Save for the DDiS and VDi/ZDi badging, there’s no way to tell the petrol and diesel siblings apart — some cosmetic differences, at the very least, would have helped matters. Nevertheless, it’s clear that Maruti Suzuki has tried to cover all bases with this car, given the overbearing figure of the all-conquering Honda City looming large over it. The important thing is that it appears to have succeeded in its efforts — let the C-segment games begin anew!