Review: Suzuki sports up the Kizashi
By Bill Heald - ReminderNews
Feature Article - posted Thu., Mar. 31, 2011
Suzuki hasn’t been selling autos in the U.S.for all that long compared to a lot of the competition, but they made quite a splash last year when they introduced the Kizashi. This midsized sedan blends four-cylinder fuel economy with a sporty personality, and offers an optional all-wheel drive system you could switch to just front-wheel drive when desired.
The Kizashi Sport takes this machine and catapults it to whole new level. For starters, this is a really stylish ride that got an amazing amount of attention wherever I drove it, even though I was down in Daytona Beach, where there were plenty of other distractions. There are styling modifications inside and out that really work some magic on this sedan, and even though the mechanical changes aren’t too dramatic in scope, the transformation is far more that skin deep. When you add in the reasonable price, satisfying road manners and excellent build quality, this is a standout vehicle in a crowded class (quite an accomplishment all by itself).
The Kizashi keeps things simple by offering one engine: a 2.4-liter Inline Four with 180 horsepower (continuously variable automatic transmission) or 185 horsepower (manual transmission). As mentioned, you can get either front-wheel or all-wheel drive variants, and our Kizashi Sport test mule was a front driver with the six-speed manual transmission. This combination proved to be a great pleasure to drive and a model of refinement, and while the four-cylinder is not blazingly fast, 60 mph arrived in under nine seconds and the shifting action on the manual transmission was light, smooth and precise.
The Sport suspension is lowered by 10 millimeters, and armed with excellent KYB shock absorbers, the chassis has the kind of rock-solid feel you typically associate with a very famous German sports sedan manufacturer (several, actually). Steering feedback is very good, and makes exploiting the car’s handling to the fullest a breeze. The ABS brakes are likewise excellent, thus giving this Suzuki a well-rounded sporting résumé.
As if the new exterior styling and great driving dynamics weren’t a good enough endorsement of this new sedan, the interior continues the sporting theme with a certain European feel and excellent fit and finish. The driver’s perch is plush and sheathed in excellent leather, with intelligently-arrayed controls and clear, logical instrumentation. The rear seat is also very well-appointed with ample room and 60/40 fold-down access to the trunk. Another attribute to this very comfortable coach is the ambient noise level, for while there’s a tad bit of road noise, overall the Kizashi Sport is very quiet at speed.
All in all, this is, in my opinion, Suzuki’s finest effort (of the four-wheel variety) we’ve seen here in the states, and this car has the kind of feel and entertainment value of cars costing thousands more, yet even manages impressive fuel economy.
The 2011 Suzuki Kizashi Sport SLS is EPA-rated 20 MPG city/29 highway and has a base price of $24,699. With options, our final price came to $25,304. www.suzukiauto.com.