Both FWD and AWD variants are on offer, with the FWD model getting the choice between a standard six-speed manual transmission and an optional continously variable (CVT) unit. The AWD model comes only with the CVT transmission.
Scooting the car along is a 2.4L DOHC inline four-cylinder that Suzuki claims outstrips the competition, though it isn't yet releasing official power or torque figures. Within a year, Suzuki also says it will have a hybrid version of the Kizashi on the road, but no details on that powertrain are available yet. The four-pot itself is sure to be lightweight, however, with its aluminum head, block and pistons reducing the front-heavy weight distribution inherent in the front-engine/FWD layout.
Weight distribution is important, because Suzuki is pushing the sportiness of the Kizashi as a primary feature. With a suspension tuned in Europe - including a stint at the Nurburgring - the car is aiming directly at the 'aspirational' Japanese and American carmaker set. Whether it will have the performance chops to hang with the big brands is one thing, but it will also have to meet a high set of expectations when it comes to features.
The offerings inside are a step beyond the standard budget fare, with standard keyless push-button start, iPod connectivity and Bluetooth audio streaming. On the optional list, premium leather uphosltery and three-stage heated memory seats make for a more comfortable commute.
And commuting is where the Kizashi is most likely to feel at home, despite its performance intentions. The car's available AWD system is augmented with Suzuki's Dynamic Vehicle Stability Control (DVSC), which the company claims is an improvement on the standard ESP found in most cars due to its greater degree of driver control. The DVSC system is also available on the FWD version of the Kizashi.
With this slate of initial standard features and options, Suzuki is set to stir up the entry-level sport sedan market, but the question remains whether now is the right time, and whether the Suzuki brand - and the Kizashi name - can push through the economic gloom to reach driver's wallets. On the other hand, people need cars now as much as ever, and scaling back expenses without giving up features may be just the ticket - whatever the car is called.
The 2010 Suzuki Kizashi sedan will be on sale in the U.S. before the end of 2009, meaning a late-year appearance in the flesh, possibly the Los Angeles Auto Show, could be in the cards.