If you know me you know I like speculating on happenings at Suzuki. Take this for what it is, speculation. I know some here have strong opinions about what the SX4 is or isn't supposed to be --- my "rumors" are what they are, just rumors I've heard from various sources, some who work for Suzuki, and speculation that the GM Daewoo / Suzuki cooperation has been and continues to be re-evaluated (not to mention further possible Nissan tie-ups):
Soon the SX4 sedan is to make its debut. Depending on how well it does, it may end up being the rumored nail in the coffin for the very popular Forenza / Reno. Top management at American Suzuki must be thinking this one over very carefully however, given that combined Aerio and SX4 sales are only about one third of Forenza, Forenza Wagon and Reno sales. And keep in mind that those Forenza / Reno sales are additional sales above and beyond the current Aerio / SX4 sales total. That's a lot of cars. 4550 Forenzas and Renos this June, to be exact, compared to a mere 1368 for the Aerio and SX4. That's only about 300 more cars than the Aerio alone sold in June of 2006.
So what will the SX4 Sedan bring to the table to establish it as more of a player than the Aerio sedan ever was and help the SX4 line do "double duty" an Aerio, Reno and Forenza replacement if Suzuki does discontinue the Forenza & Reno?
For one thing, the "SX4" moniker will not have as much meaning with the sedan. Unlike the current SX4 hatchback, the sedan will drop the rugged off road looks and i-AWD in favor of a "street performance" FWD setup.
Power comes from a 2.0-liter, 143-horsepower DOHC 4-cylinder engine mated to either a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic. SX4 sedan will come standard with 6 air bags.
The sedan has the same wheelbase a the hatchback but loses 2 inches in height to its hatch'd sibling. However, the sedan adds significant length despite the loss of hatchback utility, and actually grows 13 inches longer. This should make for a useable trunk and perhaps some increased rear leg room. The rear styling is clean and contemporary, while the front end is a less aggressive-looking version of the hatchback's, without the black plastic cladding, but with the same upturned beanpod-shaped wraparound headlamps that I overheard someone call "funky", and not in a particularly good way.
Will this be enough to allow Suzuki to "go it alone" without GM Daewoo's sales boosting Forenza / Reno? Pricing will be key. And if the SX4 sedan is losing some of the hardware on the SX4 hatch - in particular the All-Wheel-Drive setup - then I'd expect at least the base sedan to offer a lot of bang for the buck, undercutting the already low-priced hatchback.
My opinion? While the SX4 hatch is fine with the funky front end, Suzuki will need to do some cleaning up of the styling, including more conservative-looking headlamps, if it wants to appeal to the broad audience that buys Forenzas today. And where will the spacious cargo area of the Forenza Wagon go? Neither the SX4 hatch nor the sedan can match that.
Unless Suzuki is forced to give up the Forenza and Reno for some contractual or political reason, I don't see the logic in placing all of the eggs in the SX4 Sedan's (and hatch's) basket and losing the Forenza / Reno. The GM Daewoo-built cars with their Australian engines may not be chock full of Suzuki DNA, and they may have had a spotty quality record back when they debuted as 2004 models, but they deserve a lot of credit for getting Suzuki's sales and market share to where they are today.
It seems only time will tell how the rumors and sales pan out.
SUZUKIPHILE - Wave Goodbye to the Aerio, The SX4 Sedan is Coming. But Could it Also Replace the Forenza and Reno?