That was my first thought upon hearing the name of Suzukis new up-market compact sedan for the US market. Best known for smaller SUVs, trucks and its great entry-level SX4 AWD sedan and hatch, American Suzuki has taken the wraps off its new Kizashi (loosely translated as something great is coming) 4-door sedan, available in front- and all-wheel-drive.
This is a handsome machine, with swoopy lines fore and [especially] aft that hold and caress the eye. In a class of vehicle where visual boredom and ennui are the order of the day, Suzuki has designed and engineered a machine that is inviting, exciting and well appointed at a rational price.
Lets start with pricing. The 2010 Suzuki Kizashi which hit showroom floors in December 2009 begins at just under $19,000 and goes up past $25K. That isnt unusual, but what makes this car stand out is the quality and quantity of its standard offerings and the petite option list. For instance, the Premium Silver/black leather 2010 Suzuki Kizashi SLS has a list price of $24399 plus $735 destination.
The SLS vehicle has an extra charge of $130 for the delectable near-pewter paint and $125 for floor mats. That adds up to $24,489, not bad for all the items that arent on the extra-fee list.
How about running gear, you ask? Suzuki fits their variable-valve-timing 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder engine in the Kizashi and, in this instance, a well-geared six-speed manual transmission. My sole complaint about this vehicle is that there is a rather long throw between gears, but that might be nitpicking. This mill makes 185 horsepower at its 6500- rpm redline and 170 ft-lbs of torque at 4000 rpm. Suzuki claims 0-60 times of 7.5 seconds.
A very solid chassis includes front MacPherson struts with coil springs and rear multi-link suspension and very precise electronic power steering. Front vented and rear solid antilock disc brakes feature brake assist and the underpinnings make for a lithe little sedan with responsive handling and very good torsional rigidity. That is true, even with the big P235/45R Dunlop tires on 18-inch 20-spoke alloy rims. The ride is taut and lovely on twisty roads and comfortable over the ruts. A delightful exhaust note from chrome-rimmed dual pipes completes the package.
Suzuki is forward thinking in that the Kizashi meets all 2014 crash standards four years early and employs eight airbags (front side and front/rear head curtains) for passive safety protection, along with an auto-dimming mirror. Likely the best part of Suzukis safety push, though, is in its thoughtful and driver-aware running gear it all works so well that the driving experience is enhanced.
The interior of the new 2010 Suzuki Kizashi is a lovely yet businesslike place. With light/dark gray gauges (backlit black & white at night) including a temperature gauge not a given these days the array in front of the driver is excellent. There are dual climate controls for the front seat occupants, who have power sport seats with perforated leather. The drivers 10-way seat includes power lumbar support and three seat memories. Both front sport seats have three-position heaters.
The leather-wrapped tilt/telescope steering wheel has audio controls on the left side; phone controls on the lower left, while the right side handles cruise and the driver info center and odometer duties. Its all very easy to use and quite adaptable. There are automatic lights and a small bi-level central storage with 12-volt plug.
The soft touch pebble plastics throughout the cabin evoke high standards and the Kizashis build quality enforces those standards as well. Seams are excellent and closures are solid. The start/stop button readily ignites the car but there are no remotes in the cabin for either the lighted 13.3-cubic-foot trunk or for the 16.6-gallon fuel tank.
Suzuki made sure to give the Kizashi sedan a back-up beeper and one-touch window for the driver. There is a one-touch tilt/slide moonroof as standard equipment on this car and fog lamps are standard. Elevated back seat occupants arent stiffed, as there are airflow outlets behind the central storage and cupholders in all four doors in addition to those in the pulldown armrest. The trunk has a pass-through for longer items and the rear seats fold 60/40.
Fuel mileage is quite good at 20/29 mpg for the manual transmission top-of-the-line SLS model of the 2010 Suzuki Kizashi, which should allow up to 450 miles over the road. Take into account the size of this machine, which is slightly smaller than its Acura TSX and Mazda6 competition at 183.1 inches length, 71.7 inches width, standing 58.3 inches tall on a 106.3-inch wheelbase. The Kizashi has ample 5.7 inches of ground clearance and a very nice 36-foot turning circle. It weighs 3241 pounds as equipped not a lightweight but with no wasted avoirdupois.
Suzuki gave the Kizashi SLS an exceptional Rockford Fosgate audio system with 10speakers and 425 watts. While its set up to accept XM satellite radio, this particular cars audio wasnt activated. Still, playing the CD or ones local stations around the cabin is effective in the 105.4-inch interior volume.
The driving experience in the 2010 Suzuki Kizashi SLS is a wonderful one, particularly for the enthusiast on a budget. About the only thing this vehicle lacks is a navigation system, but rather than plunking down another $1299, an aftermarket unit could do the job nicely. Suzukis warranty is right at the top of the heap at 7 years or 100,000 miles, but this machine feels so strong and solid yet agile that the warranty is likely to go unused.
While there are many choices in the small-to-mid-range sedan market these days, its time to take a long look at the 2010 Suzuki Kizashi. The sedan itself may be new to the American market, but the brand sure isnt with its off-road vehicles and motorcycles. Suzuki is the 11th largest manufacturer of vehicles worldwide, giving this manufacturer solid credentials. Do yourself a favor and vote against boredom in a compact sedan consider the 2010 Suzuki Kizashi.
© 2009 Anne Proffit