With the Suzkui Kizashi, Suzuki Australia entered new territory. Known for its compact 4WD vehicles and the redoubtable Swift light car, as well as its motorcycles, Suzuki is determined to make inroads into the medium sedan segment.
With its extroverted and sporty character, the Kizashi offers more flavour and flair than some traditional entrants in this category but it will be a challenge for Suzuki to get the newcomer onto shopping lists. The XL and XLS variants arrived in May 2010 but the Sport AWD is the one petrolheads were waiting for.
Suzuki Kizashi AWD Overview
There is great potential in Suzki’s midsizer and this latest offering combines two kinds of car in one, competing with the likes of the Honda Accord Euro and Mazda6 while throwing out a challenge to the Subaru Impreza WRX. (A 179 kW turbocharged Kizashi AWD is on the agenda.) Suzuki has packed the Kizashi with luxuries including beautifully upholstered leather seats, heated, 10-way electrically adjustable and with a 3-position memory in the front, and a concert quality Rockford Fosgate [registered trademark] audio system. The $39,990 pricetag appears to represent phenomenal value.
Standard equipment includes the expected plethora of acronyms and airbags (including front and rear curtain units), dual climate control, keyless start, 60: 40 split-fold rear seat with a boot-through opening in the centre, four rope hooks and two nets in the boot, front seat heating, front and rear parking sensors, three USB sockets, a sports leatherbound steering wheel, 18-inch alloys, Bluetooth, and the brilliant sound system. It is difficult to nominate a better equipped car at this price point. Those with $40K in search of a compact family sedan with the lot, here is the car!
Suzuki Kizashi AWD Engine
Like every other Kizashi on offer, the premium Sport AWD variant has a 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine which develops 131 kW of power. Given the styling and dynamic competence of the Sport AWD this is a modest output. The engine is teamed with a constantly variable (CVT) automatic transmission. Again, this seems like too mild a solution, although the CVT is among the better examples of its genre. The promised 179 kW turbocharged engine in combination with a six-speed manual transmission is what this car already cries out for.
There are steering column paddles to change gears manually (or you can move the T-bar across into manual mode) to select any one of the six programmed ‘ratios’. The engine/transmission combination does make for excellent economy (CVTs having the edge on conventional automatic gearboxes), especially in view of the car’s considerable 1600 kg weight. In mixed urban and suburban running with a few kilometers of open road at a steady 100 km/h, the computer indicated between 8 and 9 litres per 100 kilometres. On an interstate trip mid-6s should be achievable with sensitive use of the throttle.
The ‘intelligent’ AWD system is switchable and responds to driving conditions to neutralise either under- or oversteer. But the car is so inherently well balanced, only the most expert driver will appreciate the difference under most conditions on dry, well-surfaced roads.
Suzuki Kizashi AWD Interior
Perhaps this interior could be a little bolder but it is nicely executed and exudes a sense of high quality. Certainly it is less extroverted than the exterior. The test car was black with matching trim. The leather seats with their double rows of silver stitching would look at home in a car of twice or three times the price.
The sound system is of rare class in the $40K sector. There is only reasonable room in the rear and the boot, although a little small, allows room underneath for a full-sized spare wheel, something too many manufacturers place elsewhere in the too-hard basket.
Suzuki Kizashi AWD Exterior & Styling
Even the entry level Kizashi XL looks striking with its sleek lines, low ride height and 17-inch alloys. But the Sport AWD rides 10 cm closer to earth on slick 18-inchers. It also has its own front bumber design with matching lower grille and stylised fog lamp bezels with chrome accents. The lower body skirt and bootlid spoiler further declare its dedicated sporting character.
Suzuki Kizashi AWD On The Road
The power steering is typically lacking in weight even at cruising speeds but it compensates for this by delivering instant and linear response. Carving through a series of tight corners shows this chassis at its best. Even the entry level Kizashi handles crisply but this one feels married to the tarmac.
Body roll is almost undiscernible but there is no harshness to the ride quality. Noise, vibration and harshness levels are low and this is a relaxed cruiser. All it needs is a more driver-friendly gearbox and more power. Under most conditions it makes sense to leave it in front-wheel drive and benefit from the slight fuel saving. Turn AWD on when driving in the wet, on loose surfaces or on a mountain pass.
Suzuki Kizashi AWD Challenges
Maximum torque does not arrive until 4000 rpm and, frankly, the Kizashi especially in Sport AWD guise lacks the urge to match its image and dynamic excellence. While many buyers will appreciate its more compact packaging, those few who carry three adults across the back seat might choose something bigger like a Camry or Liberty.
Suzuki Kizashi AWD Verdict
The Suzuki Kizashi Sport AWD is among the most impressive new cars of 2010 and augurs well for the maker’s move further into the mainstream.
Suzuki Kizashi AWD Competition
So distinctive is the Kizashi’s character (even down to the pleasing choice of a Japanese model name, see also the Suzuki Hayabusa superbike), that it does not have any direct rivals. In many ways, including price and out-there styling, it might be seen as an alternative to a Subaru Impreza WRX but only for the buyer who won’t appreciate the Subey’s 195 kW. It has more sporting credentials than any other rival, although the 148 kW, $43,290 Honda Accord Euro Luxury might come closest.
Suzuki Kizashi AWD Likes:
Brilliant AWD driving dynamics, phenomenal value, hot looks
Suzuki Kizashi AWD Dislikes:
Needs a six-speed manual gearbox, needs more power and torque