2008 Road Race Motorsports Suzuki SX4t

2008 Road Race Motorsports Suzuki SX4t 2008 Road Race Motorsports Suzuki SX4t
Specialty File

It’s at this point that loudmouthed TV chef Emeril Lagasse yells, “Bam!”

Stand back. Suzuki is a newcomer to the tuning scene, and it’s got nothing to lose. The company wanted a thoroughly antisocial show car, and the turbocharged Road Race SX4t is one pissed-off little lunchbox.

Suzuki bikes have long been a gold mine for tuners, and the factory’s own Suzuki Sport division does a decent business selling pipes, springs, and wings to car owners in Japan and Europe. But so far North America has remained the land of the lazy, leviathan XL-7. Roof racks? We got yer roof racks!

That’s about to change.

The SX4t is likely the first stanza in Suzuki’s effort to heat up its fusty car image in preparation for the 2010 return of the youth-targeted Swift. With Suzuki’s blessing, Road Race Motorsports, a shop in Sante Fe Springs, California, well-known to tuners for its decent portfolio of mainly Japanese race cars, show cars, and parts, has developed a $4699 turbo kit for the Suzuki SX4.

The what?

You know, Suzuki’s newish $16,499 all-wheel-drive hatchback. The kit includes a Mitsubishi 16G GT3 intercooled turbo that feeds seven pounds of boost to the otherwise stock J20 engine. Unlike the mild panting the Japanese tuner HKS gives the Honda Fit, the Suzuki’s horsepower zooms from 143 to a claimed 232, the torque from 136 pound-feet to 239. We can vouch that the 60-mph acceleration time is sliced and diced, from 9.1 seconds down to 6.9, and the quarter-mile from 16.9 seconds to 15.2.

With the upper body painted a sinister dark gray, the SX4t looks less clownish than evil, and it sounds raw. It snorts and blaps and roars and wheezes, annoying crosswalk guards and startling telephone linemen. It also lacks the polish of the HKS Fit. Sometimes it won’t even start. Or it turns over with an ear-splintering kapow! out the back, which in L.A. can draw return fire.

Road Race kept the roster short as regards nonessential mods. The steering wheel is Swift part-number-not-available in the U.S. However, Road Race’s $799 carbon-fiber vented hood is, and it cuts a few precious pounds off but still leaves behind a portly 2940-pound curb weight. The compact Zeitronix digital display ($428) toggles between air-fuel-ratio and manifold-pressure readouts and also logs data for future study. The Rota five-spoke Torque wheels ($150 a corner) look flashy and cost significantly less than the HKS Fit’s Pentagon-priced Volks. A $69 billet shift knob rounds out the visual candy.

Once running, the SX4t is a roller coaster’s front seat, arcing flatly through curves with fast-reacting controls and a planted stance. Road Race added its own spring set ($239) and front brake pads ($89 all up), but the stock SX4 structure gets credit for solid, shiver-free construction. Returning 25 mpg in our hands, the SX4t leaves cash in the bank to pay speeding tickets.

If the Swift proves only half this fun and twice this refined, Suzuki has its image made. Bam!

Road Race Motorsports, 13037 Lakeland Road, Suite F, Sante Fe Springs, California 90670; 562-906-0080; www.roadracemotorsports.com.