Over several decades, Suzuki has established quite a reputation for itself in the U.S. as a maker of high-quality, high-performance motorcycles and ATVs. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for its cars; while quality and performance claims hold, from our experience, Suzuki's sparse and second-tier dealerships and dealer facilities in the U.S. have always been a handicap—especially recently, when it has strong product, like the excellent 2011 Kizashi Sport we just drove, and the 2011 SX4 Sportback, another favorite. And, potentially, it could tap into its well-received Suzuki Swift hot hatch from overseas.

One potential strategy: Give more of that roaring motorsports heritage to the company's cars. That's what Suzuki has done with the new Kizashi Apex Concept for the 2011 New York International Auto Show. Basically an extreme-motorsports take on the Kizashi Turbo idea that's been teased for some time, the Apex gets a strong Garrett/Honeywell 2871 R ball-bearing turbocharger, waste-gated to a conservative 8.5 psi.

It's all held down for reliable track duty with high-nickel housing, an oil-and-water-cooled bearing system, and lightweight iconel materials for the cart turbine wheel. An air-to-liquid intercooler provides charge air cooling and short ducting for quick throttle response and less throttle lag.

Altogether, the setup makes between 275 and 300 horsepower from this boosted version of the Kizashi's stout 2.4-liter engine.

Trim and detailing on the Apex Concept derives from the Suzuki GSX-R Superbike. Highlights include a "burnt asphalt" finish for the 19-inch lightweight performance alloy wheels, and the Yokohama S.Drive 245/35-R19 tires have nanotechnology micro-fiber compound that will aid both wet and dry traction. The concept gets the automaker's Euro-spec HID headlamps as well.

Inside, the Apex Concept are black-leather seats and trim, with Laser Blue Alcantara suede-like for the steering wheel, seat inserts, and accents.

We see Suzuki thinking out loud with this concept: Can the brand extend its two-wheel motorsports halo to four wheels? Would the brand simply be better off making this its emphasis? Your comments are of course welcome.


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