Suzuki Kizashi – Review
by Liam Bird
This is going to sound like a very odd statement: I’m not entirely sure how many Suzuki Kizashi’s I’ve actually seen. See, I told you. Now, let me explain.
Firstly I live out in the sticks, so my even my nearest Suzuki dealer is over 20 miles away; it’s not like I can just pop in when I fancy. And secondly, Suzuki is only going to import 500 Kizashis this year, so even by super-car standards their first proper mid-size family saloon car is going to remain a pretty rare sight. I have seen one before, at a press event, but I didn’t clock the number plate. Whether or not it was the same car I’ve just spent the week driving I can’t be sure. So if this is the first time you’ve seen one too, I completely understand.
It might be new to us, but the truth is the Kizashi has been available in Japan since 2009. Because we Europeans associate Suzuki with small cars and 4x4s their marketing department have been understandably cautious when it comes to launching something that’s designed to take on the likes of Ford’s Mondeo and Audi’s A4 – hence only 500 for now. But neither of those two can offer what might just turn out to be the Kizashi’s trump card: selectable four-wheel drive and an automatic gearbox as standard for under £22,000.
In fact that’s the only choice. The Kizashi mates a transversely mounted 2.4 litre 178bhp 4 pot motor to a constant velocity transmission. There’s no manual option and diesel devotees will need to look elsewhere. Frugal buyers may find a claimed 34mpg a little hard to live with too. Everybody knows real-world driving struggles to match what happens in the lab.
But what the Kizashi lacks in engine options it more than makes up for in standard equipment. The interior may look a little dated in places, but electrically adjustable heated leather seats, a multifunction steering wheel, voice activated Bluetooth, cruise control, auto lights and wipers, dual zone climate control and keyless entry mean just about every need is catered for in a cabin that accommodates five. A dealer fit sat-nav is yours for an extra £495; you’ve probably guessed by now that’s the sole entry on a very short options list.
The exterior is similarly well dressed. A deep lattice-type front grille, HID headlights, chrome accents on the sill mouldings and some pretty muscular arches filled by a set of rather attractive 18-inch alloys shod with 235/45 tyres mean the Suzuki’s new flagship gets more than its fair share of admiring glances. The fact the brakes are made by the same people who make them for Japan’s bullet train just adds even more conversational kudos.
Suzuki Kizashi: “Handles beautifully”
Sadly though, the Kizashi doesn’t quite live up to its looks in the driving department. Despite offering near perfectly weighted steering, relaxed long distance cruising, and a taught ride that smothers bumps without resorting to barge-like body roll, the Kizashi never feels totally involving. It handles beautifully and when conditions allow, it’s more than capable of cornering with conviction, but if ever there was a car that deserved a manual gearbox this is it. And why, oh why didn’t Suzuki make those chromed exhausts sound as good as they look?
Kizashi translates from Japanese to English as “a sign of great things to come” and Suzuki GB have already hinted that a six-speed gearbox may well be on the cards. If that’s the case, then the Kizashi could well be worth looking out for.
Engine: 2393cc 4Cyl 16V Petrol
Power: 176 BHP @ 6000rpm
Torque: 170 lbft @ 4000rpm
Transmission: CVT with 6 manually selectable “ratios” & 4WD
Performance: 0-62mph 8.8 sec
Max Speed: 127mph
MPG: 34.0 Combined