The Suzuki Kizashi is potentially the most underrated model in the medium car segment. Whether it’s the name or the fact that Suzuki is better known for small cars and all-terrain SUVs, the Kizashi has been somewhat forgotten among the ever expanding crowd of cars in its category.
Although the medium car segment has grown year to date by more than 20 per cent compared with last year, the Suzuki Kizashi has captured just 1.6 per cent of sales, a decline on the previous year’s three percent. To spice things up and remind customers that the Kizashi is a viable choice in the market, the Queensland distributors for the Japanese company have come out with a special edition Suzuki Kizashi Karbon.
From the outside the Kizashi Karbon is essentially a jazzed-up Kizashi Sport AWD. The Karbon has its roof, driving light surrounds, wing mirrors, lower door garnishes, rear boot lip spoiler and twin exhaust flutes wrapped in a carbonfibre-like material. It all comes together to create a rather nice but not overdone visual enhancement package, particularly on a white car. The interior also gets dashes of the same treatment but perhaps the most noticeable addition is the black chrome 19-inch Avanti wheels.
The Suzuki Kizashi Karbon, which for now is just a one-off, is expected to cost about $4000 more than the standard $39,990 Kizashi Sport AWD. The same 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine that powers the entire Kizashi range is also in charge of the Karbon. As with the AWD model, the Karbon transmits its 131kW of power and 230Nm of torque to all four wheels via a continuously variable transmission (CVT).
As a result, it still lacks that extra pulling power that its brilliant chassis is so eager for. The CVT itself is refined and ideal for the daily grind. It would never raise an eyebrow for the average driver but it does, however, present the same elastic feeling of nearly all CVT vehicles, whereby the engine sits at a predetermined RPM while the transmission expands. Unfortunately the Kizashi AWD is not available in manual, which means the Karbon is stuck with CVT.
You would think that a car riding on third-party 19-inch wheels wrapped in low profile tyres that both ride quality and cabin ambience would be affected, but that isn't the case. The regular Kizashi rides and handles well and this hasn’t changed on the Avanti wheels.
However, it’s worth noting that the Korean-made 245/40/R19 Nexus 700 tyres used on this one-off Karbon can certainly do with better wet-weather grip and are generally not up to the same level as the standard-fit Yokohama E70s on the Kizashi AWD.
We took the Karbon for an extensive review along one of Brisbane’s best winding roads and were again impressed by the car’s tight chassis and dynamics. You can indeed switch the AWD system off with a push of a button (right of the steering wheel). But even when on, it does tend to send a good chunk of its power to the front wheels until such time as the rear actually needs. This is helpful as it saves fuel (official figures put it at 8.4L/100km).
The real challenge for us was to find a real difference between all-wheel-drive and front-wheel-drive modes, and in both cases the Kizashi fared well. Only when pushed close to its limits does the AWD factor come into play. Its AWD system would’ve been better utilised with more power and torque from the engine (something Volkswagen, a disgruntled Suzuki shareholder, is very good at doing).
The general design of the Kizashi helps its overall dynamics. The short front and rear overhangs are instrumental in keeping the car well balanced and the underbody aero aids help keep the cabin nice and quiet.
Speaking of which, on the inside the Suzuki Kizashi Karbon is essentially the same as the AWD model but with a few visual enhancements to match its bold exterior. As a result, it still lacks a now almost-mandatory satellite navigation system or even a basic full-colour infotainment screen. In-car technology has long been Suzuki’s weakness across the range, and given the bespoke implementation of the stereo system it will be a challenge to find a third-party replacement (though Google and eBay will tell you that they exist and can be had within days).
On the plus side the Kizashi worked well with our iPhone for both making phone calls and streaming music wirelessly via Bluetooth connectivity. It also comes with a top-notch 10-speaker (including subwoofer) Rockford Fosgate audio system that allows you to match its ‘look-at-me’ exterior with appropriate bass-pumping music.
As an additional visual enhancement package for Kizashi, the Karbon is worth the extra $4000. Nonetheless, with a 0-100km/h time of around 8.8 seconds (for standard Kizashi Sport AWD), it’s by no means a fire-breathing sports car. Suzuki has long talked about the potential for a Kizashi Turbo but two years into the car’s life cycle and a few promises along the way, we are still waiting.
What we gained from driving around in the Kizashi Karbon for a week was a renewed confidence in just how good Suzuki’s medium-sized offering really is. It may not be the most technologically advanced or fastest car on the block, but as an overall package it certainly warrants more showroom attention.
The Karbon package aims to entice buyers into Suzuki dealerships to look at the regular Kizashi range, and it just may succeed, because the limited edition model stands out from a mile away and has enough street-cred to pull off its visual enhancements. It adds something new and exciting to the medium car segment that is dominated by monotonous choices.
Suzuki Australia is also looking at such visual enhancement packages but no official decision has yet been made.
Check out CarAdvice's other Suzuki Kizashi Reviews