Front view

Viewed straight-on, the Suzuki SX4 Sport looks quite, well, sporty. A low-chin spoiler, angry headlamps, and a big honeycomb grill give the SX4 an imposing look.

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Side view

Step around to the side, and you'll find an awkwardly tall and round compact sedan. Viewed from this angle (and in this color), it's easy to see the SX4 Sport as cute, ignoring the 17-inch alloy wheels and four-wheel disc brakes.

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Practical shape

The upshot of such a tall greenhouse is excellent 360-degree visibility and plenty of headroom, giving the illusion of being in a much larger vehicle by letting more light into the cabin.

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2.0-liter four-cylinder engine

Under the hood lives a 2.0-liter inline-four that outputs 143 horsepower and 136 pound-feet of torque, outclassing both the Honda Civic and the Toyota Corolla.

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Four-speed automatic transmission

Like many compact sedans tuned for economy rather than performance, the SX4 Sport suffers from a sluggish automatic transmission that never seems to be in the right gear to take advantage of the power.

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Suspension

The SX4 Sport may not look like it, but rally racing is in its lineage. Its fantastic suspension makes it quite the accomplished canyon carver and its handing rivals even the gold-standard Honda Civic.

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High beltline

In Sport trim, the SX4 gets a full body kit that doesn't really do much to enhance its frumpy, dumpy looks.

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Trunk

The upshot to being bulbously shaped is more interior and storage space. Standard 60/40 split fold-and-tumble rear seats flip out of the way to reveal even more storage space when necessary.

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Interior

The interior is a very pleasant place to be, with light, high quality plastics and comfortable fabric seats. The tall greenhouse features winglet windows in the A-pillars that create forward visibility and make the cabin feel very open.

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Steering wheel

The SX4 Sport's steering wheel is a bit big for serious performance driving, but features useful buttons controlling the audio system and the cruise control.

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Instrument cluster

The instrument cluster is a handsome, yet standard, affair with a matte black background and crisp white text and markings. These gauges make no pretense about the budget class of vehicle they live in.

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Center stack

The center stack is home to the climate controls and the standard four-speaker stereo. Sound quality is good from AM/FM radio or MP3-encoded CD. XM radio is available as an option, but was not equipped. Just above the center vents is a single-line, monochromatic display showing temperature, time, and fuel economy information.

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SuzukiTRIP

At the top-center of the dash, we find Suzuki's rather clever solution to including GPS as a standard feature in a car that starts just below $16K: the SuzukiTRIP GPS system consists of a rebadged Garmin Nuvi 760 integrated into a hump in the dash beneath a folding door.

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GPS navigation with traffic

The SuzukiTRIP/Garmin Nuvi 760 features live traffic information via MSN Direct and announces upcoming turns through its integration with the stereo system.

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MSN Direct

Other useful features included as part of MSN Direct include weather, gas prices, news and stocks updates, and movie times.

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Bluetooth hands-free

The unit also features Bluetooth hands-free calling when equipped with the Technology Package. Here we have our T-Mobile Shadow paired. The stereo speakers are used for calls and are very easy to hear.

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MP3 playback

Insert an SD card full of MP3s and you'll be able to play them back through the stock stereo using the SuzukiTRIP. Unfortunately, an aux-in isn't standard and iPod integration isn't either, so SD cards and MP3 CDs will be your only digital-audio options.

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