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MORE THAN WHAT YOU BARGAINED FOR

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sun, Oct 17, 2004

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

© All photos by Harvey Schwartz

MORE THAN WHAT YOU BARGAINED FOR By HARVEY SCHWARTZ

Upon taking delivery of the all-new Suzuki Forenza LX, I was first impressed by the crisp, modern styling and then the roomy, well-appointed interior. When I pulled away from the curb, I was further impressed with the ride and handling. I thought the bargained-priced Forenza would be a dud. I was wrong. This addition to Suzuki's growing lineup boasts European styling by Pininfarina, lots of class-leading standard features typical of luxury cars, and a two-liter DOHC engine providing power and torque at low rpm's, all neatly packaged in a premium designed compact offering more passenger room than the competition, 107.5 cubic feet. Prices start at just $12,499.00 for the S version, $14,399.00 for more highly appointed LX, and $15,999.00 for the top-of-the-line EX version. Standard features on this exceptional entry-level compact sedan include a CD/cassette AM-FM stereo radio with eight speakers, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, four-wheel disc brakes, power windows/door locks, power-remote/heated mirrors, remote fuel door release, two 12-volt power outlets, intermittent wipers, digital clock, timed rear-window defroster, sun visors with vanity mirrors, A/C with micron-air filtration, rear heating ducts, tilt-steering wheel, and floor mats.

Move up to the LX model, and the list expands to include a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, remote keyless entry with anti-theft, aluminum alloy wheels, fog lamps, power tilt-and-slide sunroof, and cruise control. The EX model adds leather seats. ABS brakes are optional on all Forenza models. When you gaze at the Forenza, you can easily see the Pininfarina influence, with crisp lines on the hood, a steeply raked nose and dual cylindrical halogen headlamps The gracefully curving roofline ends at the flat lid cover with large, wraparound rear lamps, and a bold character line cut into the lower rear bumper. The Forenza continues its streamlined, contemporary style inside the cabin with silver metallic accents on the doors and center console. The uniquely designed instrument cluster and T-styled dashboard flow together. The metallic silver accents are continued surrounding the analog gauges with the boldest reserved for the center-mounted 140mph speedometer. At night the instrument panel enhances visibility with a backlit jade-green glow. The cabin is roomy and legroom is particularly generous at 42in. front and 36.7in. rear. Headroom is 39.1in. front and 37.8in. rear. Shoulder room is 54.7in. front and 53.7in. rear. Hip room is 52.7in. front and 53.9in. rear. That's better than the competition.

You can get really comfortable behind the wheel with an eight-way adjustable bucket seat. All switches, dials and buttons are within easy reach. There is ample storage in each door, the deep center console, a large, lower-dash storage bin and glove box. The trunk has a large 12.4cu.ft. of capacity, and with the split-folding rear seats folded flat reveal an extra-large trunk pass-through designed for easy loading and increased capacity. That's only half the story. Power for the Forenza comes from a sophisticated DOHC, four-valve per cylinder engine that drives the front wheels. The 2.0-liter I-4 generates 126 horsepower at 5,500 rpm, and 131 pound feet of torque at just 4,000 rpm. The engine is mated to a standard five-speed manual transmission or an optional four-speed automatic. Bi-directional hydraulic engine and transmission mounts help cancel out engine noise and vibration to keep the passenger cabin quiet. Also helping to keep engine noise to a minimum is an insulated engine cover, a triple muffler system and tri-fold weather-stripping. The engine pulls strong enough to easily accelerate from a standstill and to merge into fast traveling freeway traffic. With a curb weight of just a little over 2,700 pounds, the Forenza has a lot of get-up-and-go. I am impressed with the quick launch but notice some torque-steer that can be remedied with a traction control system. The Forenza comes equipped with an independent MacPherson strut suspension up front, and a dual-link independent suspension in the rear with gas-pressurized shocks at all four corners. When combined with the Forenza's speed-sensing power rack & pinion steering, the result is agile and stable handling with a high level of comfort. All Forenza's ride on P195/55R15 all-season radial tires that are wrapped around by 15x6-inch aluminum alloy wheels.

The Forenza comes with active and passive safety features for protection in the event of a collision. It's also equipped with standard four-wheel disc brakes for great fade-free stopping power. An optional four-channel Bosch ABS system that features Electronic Brake-Force Distribution that further enhances stopping power and balance can be had. If a collision is unavoidable, the Forenza's crumple zones work to dissipate impact energy. On the inside, dual front airbags and height-adjustable shoulder belts work together to protect the front seat passengers. Seatbelt pretensioners automatically take slack out of the front seatbelts the instant after a collision. Three point seatbelts for all passengers in the back seat and the LATCH child seat system provide additional security. At prices starting at just $12,499.00. the Suzuki Forenza packs a lot of standard equipment and features not found in other entry level, compact sedans costing more. The Forenza is an excellent choice for entry-level consumers seeking to get more than they bargain for.

© All text and photos by Harvey Schwartz

For more information on Suzuki products, go to www.suzuki.com. More photos from Harvey Schwartz can be found at www.autofotos.com

SPECIFICATIONS Name of Vehicle: Suzuki Forenza LX Price: $14,399.00, as tested Engine type: 2.0-liter DOHC Inline 4 Horsepower: 126 at 5,500 rpm Torque: 131 lb.ft. at 4,000 rpm Drive configuration: Front engine/front-wheel-drive Transmission type: 5-speed manual/4-speed automatic with hold-mode optional Front suspension: Independent MacPherson struts, gas-charged shocks Rear suspension: Independent dual-link with coils, gas-charged shocks Wheels/tires: 15X6in. aluminum alloy wheels/195/55R15in. all-season radial tires Brakes: Front: 9.6in. power vented discs Rear: 9.3in. power solid discs ABS/EBD optional Overall length: 177.2in. Overall width: 67.9in. Overall height: 56.9in. Curb weight: 2,701 manual/2,756lbs. automatic EPA mileage: 22mpg/city, 30mpg/highway

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