Published on Fri, Apr 23, 2010
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
Words by Reed Berry I am about to list three “S” words that you probably thought you would never see used together: stylish, sporty and, believe it or not, Suzuki. Introducing the 2010 Suzuki Kizashi. I already know what you're thinking. Suzuki makes economy cars - cute little budget-priced transportation vehicles that are not really designed to compete with the popular cars on the market. For 2010, Suzuki just may be able to change your opinion as they plunge enthusiastically into the all-wheel-drive sport sedan segment with the new Suzuki Kizashi. The concept is really quite simple and, to be honest, most welcome in what continues to be a challenging economic period - to create an upscale vehicle with the characteristics of a premium sport sedan and offer it for the price of a regular midsize car. If Suzuki can pull this off, they may have the vehicle that will convince the budget-conscious driver to ditch their aging vehicle for a new car. I will start by saying the distraction factor is quite high. No, I'm not distracted by the vehicle but by the amazing scenery around me. My road test takes me through picturesque Oregon and Washington. A variety of road surfaces and driving conditions will allow me to put a shiny new Kizashi to the test.
Kizashi is a good looking car. It would appear that designers have worked overtime to give this new vehicle eye appeal. The front end looks almost Audi-like, with chiseled features and an attractive lighting cluster. The flowing body shape and a slight curve to the roofline adds to the sporty aesthetics. The interior certainly makes me feel as though I'm in a much more expensive car. The cabin is quite spacious and the sport seats, a standard feature, are very comfortable. French seams give the seating an upscale look. Cloth seats are standard while premium leather is an available option. The premium leather package features three-stage heated seats. The driver console is intelligently arranged and the stylish design gives the interior a sporty, luxurious feel. When you're ready to start the car, there's no need to remove the key from your pocket - simply push the "Start / Stop" button on the console. To reduce noise and create a peaceful, Zen-like environment, there is even felt lining in the console storage and glove box. If the cabin gets a little too peaceful, it may be time for some entertainment. Kizashi's standard sound system sounds good, but why settle for good when you can have great. An optional Rockford Fosgate sound system blows the roof off this car with 425 watts, 10 speakers, and a subwoofer. Kizashi features iPod connectivity, as well. Kizashi is powered by a 2.4-liter DOHC inline four-cylinder engine that delivers 185 horsepower, nicely paired with a six-speed manual transmission. A performance-tuned Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) is available, as are paddle shifters for optimum driver control.
As I make my way along some winding rural roads in Oregon, Kizashi handles extremely well. The car is quite responsive and the ride is exceptionally smooth. Suzuki claims this is the result of rigid steel unibody construction and reinforced suspension. The available all-wheel-drive system in my test vehicle further enhances the car's impressive cornering and overall performance. Safety features on the car include eight airbags, anti-lock brakes, and a tire pressure monitoring system. Projector beam headlights and fold-down rear headrests improve visibility. There is available rear sonar and a backup camera for added safety. The base "S" model has standard features including push button start, sport seats, dual-zone climate control and chromed dual exhaust tips. The "SE" adds such amenities as a CVT transmission, larger tires and wheels, and leather-wrapped steering wheel and levers. Go all the way for the top-of-the-line "GTS" and you'll have, among other features, your choice of transmission, plus a moonroof, Bluetooth hands-free calling and audio streaming, and big 18-inch alloy wheels. Kizashi serves as Suzuki's flagship vehicle, joining other popular models such as the SX4 Crossover and Grand Vitara. Summary Judgment: It's a musical production fit for Broadway.
SIDEBAR COMMENT: AT THE PROM At the New York Auto Show a couple of years ago, I was talking to a newly imported (from another manufacturer) manager with Suzuki. He uttered the usual platitudes about how happy he was to be on board with Suzuki and pointed to the Kizashi as one of the reasons. I had no reason to doubt the veracity of his claim to be happy with his new situation, in fact I was convinced that he was ecstatic, why else would one increase the length of a commute (one way) from a few miles, to more than 60? As to the observation that Suzuki's future lay with the Kizashi (at that time, a concept), only time would tell. The passing of two years, and a couple of concept iterations have brought us to the point where we can see what exactly time would tell. It seems to be saying that the Kizashi is proof positive that Suzuki is intent on being a contender in the $20-25,000 niche, where the competition is red hot (yes, the Kizashi stickers from $18,999-26,749, but the majority of transactions will be in the $20-25,000 range). A week in the Kizashi has me thinking that, although they have their work cut out for them, Suzuki is on the right track. The competition at this price comes fully loaded, and so does the Kizashi. All Kizashis come with (among other things): 2.4-liter four-cylinder, 185 horsepower (180 with the CVT), electronic stability program (ESP) with traction control system (TCS), eight standard airbags (including rear seat passenger side airbags), SmartPass Push-button keyless ignition and entry, Dual Zone Automatic Climate Control with rear passenger air vents, LED Ambient interior lighting, three-spoke Sport Steering Wheel with Remote Audio Controls, and Dual Zone Automatic Climate Control with rear passenger air vents. The interesting thing is, this level of standard features is now the minimum at this price point to even get in the door. The wallflowers have all this, to say nothing of what the potential Prom Queens might be dolled up with. Having these items doesn't mean that anyone is going to ask you to dance, but not having them means that you'll be outside with your nose pressed against the glass, wistfully musing about what might have been. Wandering into this mythical prom, Ms. Kizashi appears to be faring well. Let’s see what happens by the end of the night. - Bill Wright For more information about Suzuki products, go to suzukiauto.com
SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2010 Suzuki Kizashi Engine type: 2.4-liter, inline four-cylinder, 16-valve DOHC engine Horsepower: 185 @ 6,500 rpm Torque: 170 pound-feet @ 4,000 rpm Transmission type: Manual: 6-speed manual transmission Automatic: Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT); Available paddle shifters Steering: Electronic rack & pinion power steering Brakes: Four-wheel disc brakes Front: Vented disc brakes Rear: Solid disc brakes Wheelbase: 106.3 inches Overall length: 183.1 inches Overall width: 71.7 inches Overall height: 58.3 inches Performance: Maximum Speed: 124 mph (limited) 0 - 60: 7.4 seconds (FWD Manual); 8.3 seconds (FWD CVT) EPA Fuel Economy Estimates (City/Highway): 21/31 - Manual FWD with 16-inch wheels 20/29 - Manual FWD with 17/18-inch wheels 23/31 - CVT FWD with 16-inch wheels 23/30 - CVT FWD with 17/18-inch wheels 23/30 - CVT AWD with 16-inch wheels 22/29 - CVT AWD with 17/18-inch wheels