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Suzuki's Kizashi is the most surprising car I've driven this year
- 2010 Suzuki Kizashi XLS; 2.4-litre four-cylinder; six-speed manual/CVT: $34,990/$36,990
- None fitted;
Suzuki has been chipping away at the automotive market for the past ten years with varied levels of success.
One of its most successful forays that is still kicking goals today is the Suzuki Swift. The unisex, visually appealing small car has found its way to many driveways around Australia – and rightfully so. It’s a great little car that builds on Suzuki’s core concepts, price point and design.
After the somewhat unappealing Suzuki SX4, their position has been somewhat hazy. That was until the Kizashi.
Meaning “something good is coming”, the new Suzuki Kizashi isn’t so much impressive as it is amazing. It’s the electronic equivalent of the iPod and the human equivalent of Jen Hawkins, it's usable and beautiful.
You will probably fall over yourself the first time you spot a Kizashi in traffic, I know I did.
The stunning rear end features two integrated exhaust tips that mould their way around the rear and meet a symphony of smooth flowing lines that grace the tail lights and boot-lid. From a design perspective, it’s beautiful.
It’s the same story at the front where a big mouthy grille proudly wears the Suzuki badge. Smooth lines and an oddly shaped bonnet complete the front end mix, giving it the impression of motion even when it’s stationary.
Inside the cabin, things are a little more conservative, but not in a bad way. Excess buttons have been culled for a simplified approach that displays everything you need, with all buttons a perfect distance from the driver.
The perfectly sized steering wheel sits nicely in the hand and offers excellent levels of grip for cornering. A small but noticeable point worth mentioning is the upmarket feel to the steering wheel buttons and switches. The volume, cruise and song selection switches have small grip tabs on them to make quick adjustments easy.
As I said to each of my passengers, if you were to cover up identifying badges you would be hard pressed to spot any fit and finish and quality differences between the Kizashi and a doubly priced Audi or Mercedes-Benz.
Suzuki’s interior quality has always been good but the Kizashi takes it to a new level altogether.
Interior leg and head room is surprisingly accommodating for four passengers. There’s plenty of leg room in the rear, making it perfect for longer journeys. The only issue we ran into during testing was when the car was loaded with five taller adults. Rear seat passengers found head room very limited when seated three abreast.
The boot tackles a gargantuan 461 litres of cargo, which is remarkable for a car that looks as small and nimble as the Kizashi.
The XLS is fitted with a gob-smacking Rockford Fosgate sound system. The 10 speaker sound system laden with a meaty sub-woofer pumps out B&O-like audio quality without the price or fanfare. The amount of bass is staggering and it doesn’t cause any panels to shake or rattle, which is refreshing in a car fitted with such an impressive sound system. The high-end range sound quality is also impressive with treble well sorted.
Under the bonnet is Suzuki’s 2.4-litre four-cylinder naturally aspirated petrol engine. The engine produces 131kW and 230Nm of torque with power sent through either a six-speed manual gearbox or Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). You can expect to achieve a combined fuel economy figure of 7.9L/100km, which was easily achieved on test in both the manual and CVT.
While Suzuki has achieved tremendous feats in terms of design and build quality, ride and handling qualities have been maintained to offer a class-leading drive.
Power delivery from the 2.4-litre engine is very linear and smooth. The six-speed manual allows the driver to extract the most from the engine, which is happiest from around 3000rpm onward. In gear acceleration in any gear is fairly impressive for a naturally aspirated engine, even more so with the quick CVT.
The place the Kizashi picks up most of its brownie points is when it’s lobbed into a corner at virtually any speed. Body roll is kept to sensible levels, even during hard cornering. From there, front end grip is all-wheel-drive-like courtesy of well tuned suspension and supremely grippy tyres.
In addition to the high levels of grip, direct steering gives the driver confidence to man-handle the Kizashi without fear of consequence. Braking is also impressive with light brake pedal feel and progressive pedal travel.
Starting at $27,990 for the six-speed manual XL, the XLS model test driven with six-speed manual and CVT is priced at $34,990 and $36,990 respectively.
The level of standard equipment is surprising. The XLS picks up: Heated driver and front passenger seats, dual-zone climate control, six-disc CD player with sub-woofer, leather seats, electric driver and front passenger seats, Xenon headlights with washers, automatic windscreen wipers, automatic headlights, sunroof, cruise control, USB and auxiliary input, electric windows, alarm, proximity sensing key and fog lights.
The safety features are equally as impressive with: Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Traction Control (TC), driver and front passenger SRS airbags, driver and front passenger side airbags, full length curtain airbags and engine immobiliser.
The Suzuki Kizashi is the surprise package of the year. It offers a superb drive, well built interior, stunning design and best of all it’s loaded with features.
Previous images of the Suzuki brand are simply blown out of the water with the Kizashi. If you’re in the market for a car this size, forget the opposition and test drive the Kizashi. I personally guarantee you will be blown away with the latest effort from Suzuki.
If you want more performance for your buck, an all-wheel-drive version has just been launched. Keep an eye out for our road test in the coming weeks.
CarAdvice Overall Rating: How does it Drive: How does it Look: How does it Go:
*Pricing is a guide as recommended to us by the manufacturer and does not include dealer delivery, on-road or statutory charges.