2010 Suzuki Kizashi
Date Posted: December 9, 2009
By Zack Spencer
The Kizashi is Suzuki's first attempt at a mid-sized sport sedan.
Can you name the car company that has been around for 100 years, has the number one, best selling car in Japan, has a fifty per cent market share in India and is the 9th largest car company in the world? Did you guess Suzuki? Probably not, but all of the above is true. In Canada, Suzuki is a relatively small player but in the early part of 2010 they will usher in the most mass-appeal and sophisticated car that Suzuki has ever offered with the all-new Kizashi mid-sized sedan. The mid-sized market is important because 20.3 per cent of all cars sold in Canada fall into this class, with most of those units being basic, uninspiring, transportation. Suzuki is having none of this; they are positioning their new entry into this market as a vehicle that ''will put the thrill back into driving''.
A Japanese company might make the Kizashi but it has its roots firmly in European soil. The design, research and development took place in Europe and the design has a more than a passing resemblance to other European designs, especially VW. The large, deep grill and headlights have VW flare, which is good because that company makes some very clean designs. The stance of the Kizashi is athletic and bold, especially the rear with big exhaust tips. The Kizashi might be a mid-sized car but it isn't as large as the top selling Camry, Accord and Chevy Malibu. The more, taught dimensions and athletic design will appeal to buyers who want a handsome and easy to maneuver machine. The Kizashi is set to come with one high-end trim, so the 18-inch wheels seen here on my test unit will make it to market.
The idea behind the Kizashi was to over deliver on many fronts, from design, to handling and interior finish. The interior is clean looking, with high-grade materials including heated leather seats with 10-way driver's adjustment. The leather wrapped steering wheel is fully adjustable and has redundant radio controls and Bluetooth hands free calling features. The dash is uncluttered with a high-gloss centre readout surrounded by easy to use and understand controls. The back seat is roomy enough for most passengers but some of the larger sedans in this class have a legroom advantage. As mentioned the Kizashi will come fully equipped and notable features include automatic climate control, push button start, USB/ iPod interface, Rockford Fosgate premium 10-speaker stereo and a full complement of standard air bags.
The high levels of interior finish along with stylish exterior are all wonderful and noble objectives but the real thrust of the Kizashi development was to push this family sedan to be a class leading road machine. Suzuki benchmarked VW and Alfa Romeo for handling and road manors, even testing this all-new world platform on the Autobahn, the Nurburgring racetrack; Alpine and English back country roads. The results are impressive for a car set to cost under $30,000. The well-dampened suspension and good feedback to the driver are welcome. The Kizashi is equipped with an all wheel drive system for better handling and road dynamics. The engine powering this all-new car is a 2.4L 4-cylinder with 180hp. I had a chance to drive the Kizashi back to back with the main competition, through slalom, and autocross exercises and the flat cornering and available grip was impressive, so much so that the competition felt dull in.
So what does Kizashi mean? The translation from Japanese is ''something great is coming''. Well is it? Lets put it this way, something unique is coming and it is worth a try. There are plenty of mid sized sedans in the $30,000 range but very few have AWD as standard equipment, except the Subaru Legacy. What Suzuki brings to the table is a high level of refinement, not just in the interior but also on the road. Buyers who are looking for a well dampened and refined sports sedan usually have to reach into the entry level luxury market for cars like the Audi A4 or Infiniti G37. Suzuki brings many of the premium attributes to a more mass appeal car and does it with an eye on fuel consumption, by using a continuously variable transmission. This might be the only area where the Kizashi could be improved by offering the manual transmission that will be offered in the US. For buyers who want all that the Kizashi offers and also want to save on fuel, will be satisfied. For those that want to test drive ''something great is coming'' will have to wait until the New Year. My bet is that this new offering will go a long way to expanding the Suzuki brand in Canada.
The Good, The Bad
If you are in the market for a solid feeling, European inspired sedan with all the toys at a price that is easy to swallow, then the Kizashi might be worth waiting for.
The only drawback is the inclusion of a continuously variable transmission, which does deliver great fuel consumption but is no match for the class leading driving dynamics. I'd prefer a regular automatic or manual.
Power: 2.4L 4-cylinder with 180hp
Fill-up: 9.3L/6.8L/100km (city/highway)
Sticker price: Expect the starting price to be just under $30,000