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2010 Suzuki Kizashi Review

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SEE ALSO: Suzuki Specs and Prices- Suzuki Buyers Guide

Suzuki’s New 2010 Kizashi: Combines A Great Driving Sport Sedan With Outstanding Value


By Marty Bernstein
The Auto Channel
Detroit Bureau

Two years ago at the Tokyo Auto Show, after seeing the Kizashi concept car, I asked the president of Suzuki during an interview, “Why is the world’s largest brand of small cars moving into larger vehicles?” Frankly, his answer while vague was positive as if I’d struck a responsive chord.

Now I know why.

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Last week I saw and drove the new real world 2010 Suzuki Kizashi at its U.S. introduction and now understand his reluctance to respond. Suzuki, the second biggest selling auto brand in Japan and the manufacturer’s of arguably the fastest motorcycles and great outboard engines in the world, has created an all-wheel-drive sedan that is world class.

World class? Yes, world class within the very competitive category of midsize vehicles and that’s a rather big category with big name brands. The Kizashi (pronounce it “Kee-Zah-Shee”), has good looking exterior styling with flowing design cues, an interior – front and rear – that says first-class comfort and quality, and the Kizashi was totally engineered by Suzuki including platform, powertrain and driveline which certainly adds considerable value.

This is not a cushy and sluggish transportation appliance; it is a true sport sedan that rides, drives and handles like a sports vehicle. This Kizashi was benchmarked against the Acura TSX, VW Passat and Alfa Romeo 159.

Journalists were told the powerplant is a 2.4-liter, 4-cylinder, 16-valve DOHC engine which pumps out 185 hp @ 6,500 rpm with 170 lb.-foot torque @ 4,000 rpm. Two transmissions are available, a six-speed manual transmission with a gear box that is smoother than silk and an automatic continuously variable transmission. I drove both and prefer the stick version.

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After driving it fairly hard on some very nice hilly country and curing roads in North Carolina and Virginia, at a driver change stop, I said, “Wow, I just remembered this is a 4 cylinder car … it was damn near perfect.” Not a Porsche or Ferrari, but this Suzuki doesn’t claim to be one. It’s a sports sedan that is fun to drive without paying the big bucks of the latter.

The driving experience in North Carolina and throughout the U.S. had been tested and validated by Suzuki engineers determined to make the car road ready and worthy on Germany’s Autobahn, Switzerland’s Alpine corners, the cobblestone roads of rural England and the legendary Nürburgring. (Watch the video!)

Kizashi’s unibody construction of embedded aluminum with reinforced front and rear suspension makes for a very stable ride and agile handing with almost no roll or noise. The ride itself is very quiet. The Akebono brakes provided great stopping power when tested at 60 mph to full stop.

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The interior of the new Suzuki halo car is exceptional. Materials are good looking, non-reflective with a nice tactile feeling. The dash and instrument panels are well designed and easy to read. Other controls, HVAC, infotainment, etc. are within quick reach. Steering wheel is leather wrapped has an easy to-grip-diameter and has controls built-in. The Rockford Fosgate audio system is especially good with excellent dynamics.

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I did not like the HVAC controls being located low on the center console rather than the radio knobs – they’d just be easier to reach, even with steering wheel controls, but that’s a bit picky. Seating is comfortable, but the front of the seat could either be extended or possibly tilted up for better support under the knees.

For potential owners who are climatically challenged – as in snow country dwellers – the all wheel drive and special underbody panels will ease the pain of winter driving. And the Kizashi has three-stage heated seats, heated mirrors, rain-sensing windshield wipers and a rear seat pass-thru for skis.

Gas mileage numbers vary slightly depending on the wheel size of the model selected, ranging fro 21/31 manual FWD with 16-inch wheels to 23/30 CVT FWD with 17/18-inch wheels.

Three trim levels are available with MSRPs starting under $20,000 and will be in dealer showrooms later this year. This is one to thoroughly check-out. The tag line for the Suzuki Kizashi’s advertising will be, ‘premium without the premium’ -- this not hype or ad-speak superlative, from my perspective it is fact.

SEE ALSO: Suzuki Specs and Prices- Suzuki Buyers Guide