SUZUKI KIZASHI REVIEW
Suzuki Australia has finally branched out beyond its staple of small off-roaders and compact cars to bring us the 2010 Suzuki Kizashi. Strikingly handsome, and its first foray into the mid-size sedan market, the Kizashi is an important car for Suzuki.
It is also a little bit different - there is a sporting edge to its lines and character that sets it apart from most others in the sector. As the range-topper, the XLS comes generously equipped as well as carrying some quite upmarket aesthetics.
Virtually everything. The Kizashi is an entirely new product line for Suzuki, and is the company’s first mid-size passenger car to be sold in the Australian market.
The sole powerplant on offer – a 2.4 litre naturally-aspirated petrol inline four – is based on the Grand Vitara’s 2.4 litre petrol, but everything else about the Kizashi is box-fresh and unique to the model.
" class="small img-responsive"/>What’s the appeal?
A reasonably roomy interior, edgy design, high equipment levels and a sporty drive are core to the Kizashi's appeal.
Its pricing has it edging the expensive side of the scale, but given the feature list that comes standard with the XLS badge, it represents good buying value.
What features does it have?
The Kizashi XLS carries a great deal of equipment for its $34,990 retail price. Standard on the XLS are features like dusk-sensing xenon headlights, rain-sensing wipers, front and rear parking sensors, a trip computer, a sunroof, foglights, keyless entry and ignition, cruise control, dual-zone climate control and an auto-dimming rear view mirror.
Both front seats also have power adjustment (4-way for the passenger, 10-way for the driver), and the driver’s seat has three memory positions.
Leather is standard on the XLS, and covers the seats, door cards, gearknob and steering wheel. Both front pews are also heated.
An MP3-compatible AM/FM CD tuner plays music through nine speakers and one subwoofer, and a USB input allows tunes to be played from a memory stick or portable music player.
" class="small img-responsive"/>What’s under the bonnet?
A 2.4 litre petrol engine supplies 131kW of power at 6500rpm and 230Nm of torque at 4000rpm. Two gearboxes are available, one a conventional manual (which we tested) and the other a constantly-variable transmission (CVT).
The manual has six speeds and a light throw to the gear lever. The CVT has a tiptronic mode that allows the driver to shuffle between six virtual ratios, either through two wheel-mounted paddle shifters or a plus-minus gate on the gear selector.
Power is taken to the front wheels only. Some foreign-market Kizashis are available with a front-biased all-wheel drive system, however that particular drivetrain option has yet to be offered on Australian-delivered models.
How does it drive?
The steering is firm and direct, the ride is taut and the engine, when paired with the manual transmission, is eager to rev.
Ride quality on the larger 18-inch alloys of the XLS (the base XL gets 17-inchers) is pretty firm, and the low-profile rubber isn’t as compliant over rough roads and corrugations as some might like.
With peak power occurring at 6500rpm and peak torque coming in at 4000rpm, the 2.4 litre engine needs to be worked hard for rapid point-to-point driving. Steep hills will also necessitate a downshift, and a full load of passengers requires more revs and gear-changing to keep the engine on the boil.
The Kizashi is a competent handler, and it’s surprisingly enjoyable around a corner. There’s understeer and body roll if it’s pushed too far, but for the most part the firmish suspension and nicely-weighted steering are a pleasing combination.
There is a bit of rack rattle on choppy roads though, and some mild torque steer at full throttle. The suspension is pretty noisy over big bumps too.
Outward visibility is generally good, but the thick A-pillars do hurt vision around corners.
The 2010 Suzuki Kizashi XLS features excellent interior materials." class="small img-responsive"/>The 2010 Suzuki Kizashi XLS features excellent interior materials.What did our passengers think?
Interior space is about par for the mid-size segment. The front seats are accommodating and comfortable and rear legroom is more than adequate, but taller passengers may find headroom a bit lacking in the back. A bit peculiar, given the Kizashi’s long, flat roofline.
The cabin isn’t wide enough for three adults to sit comfortably across the rear bench, but it’s fine for children or very short trips.
A pair of air outlets at the rear of the centre console provides ventilation for back seat passengers, and there are two fold-out cupholders housed within the rear centre armrest.
Interior quality and feel?
Interior trim fit and finish is great, and our XLS tester came with no squeaks or rattles.
The quality of the dash plastics is very good. The grain pattern and colour was totally consistent between the door cards, upper dash and lower dash, despite each surface being made of different types of plastic.
The fine-grained leather upholstery isn’t the best around, but it’s soft and comfortable. WE also liked the leather-padded door grips.
" class="small img-responsive"/>Luggage space?
There’s a total of 461 litres of boot space with the rear seats up, but Suzuki doesn’t specify how much extra space is liberated when the 60/40 split-fold rear seatbacks are dropped.
The boot floor is nice and flat, but the seatbacks don’t fold flush, creating a big step that may frustrate attempts to load large objects.
A ski port behind the centre armrest adds some extra flexibility, though, and there are a few tie-down points for cargo nets. Unfortunately, the gooseneck boot hinges intrude into boot space when the lid is shut.
How safe is it?
With six airbags on board (front, front-side and full-length curtain),three-point belts for all passengers (pre-tensioning belts up front) and a strong passenger compartment reinforced with high-strength steel, the Kizashi has good passive safety credentials.
ANCAP testing has yet to be done, but under the US NCAP regime the Kizashi has been awarded a full 5-Star crash safety rating.
Active safety equipment is comprised of ABS, EBD, brake assist, traction control and stability control.
" class="small img-responsive"/>Fuel consumption and green rating
Suzuki claims that all Kizashi variants will consume an average of 7.9 l/100km on the combined cycle, irrespective of transmission.
At the end of our time with the car, however, fuel consumption was averaging 8.8 l/100km. That said, a lengthy period spent in peak-hour traffic saw fuel economy drop markedly, and a couple of spirited stints along winding roads didn’t help the cause.
To be fair, even with our real-world result coming up short of Suzuki’s claim, the Kizashi consumed no more fuel than a Camry (probably less) and it’s still well under Ford’s claims for the petrol-powered Mondeo models.
In terms of greenhouse gas emissions, the Suzuki Kizashi is rated as a 6.5-star car under the Federal Government’s Green Vehicle Guide. Its 186g/km CO2 emissions earns it an 8.5-star air pollution rating.
" class="small img-responsive"/>How does it compare?
All of them are priced around the $34,000 mark and most offer everything the average consumer could want in a mid-size car. Of the group, the Kizashi, Mazda6, Octavia, Maxima, i45, Camry and Mondeo are the most compelling, with the Kizashi, Mondeo and Maxima good value in terms of equipment levels.
Assessing each on fuel economy (a key concern for mid-size buyers) sees the Kizashi, i45, Octavia and Mazda6 as the most frugal, largely on account of all (bar the i45 Elite) having a manual transmission in their line-up. Of any of those four, you can’t really go wrong.
The Suzuki Kizashi is available in five colours: Snow White Pearl, Premium Silver Metallic, Fervent Red, Super Black Pearl and Prussian Blue Pearl (seen on our tester).
All colours bar Snow White Pearl cost extra.
The Suzuki Kizashi XLS manual retails for $34,990, which translates to a $38,235 on-road price in Victoria (according to Suzuki’s online cost calculator).
Opting for the automatic adds $2000 to the list price, while metallic or pearlescent paint costs extra.
" class="small img-responsive"/>Our verdict
For its first ever entrant into the tough mid-size segment, Suzuki has done a good job with the Kizashi.
It may not be as gorgeous as the original concept car, but its design is eye-catching and it has its own unique personality – a definite advantage in a market segment often characterised as “bland”.
The passenger compartment offers enough space for four people to travel in comfort, it’s generously equipped in XLS form and the drive is reasonably engaging.
Small details such as the thick A-pillar and the rear seatbacks that don’t fold flush work against it, but that’s balanced by the Kizashi’s excellent build quality.
The Kizashi represents strong value, and is a handsome, well finished and refreshingly new entrant into the mid-size sector. Take off those blinkers and be sure not to overlook this option on your way to the Mazda or Toyota showroom. The Kizashi XLS is most definitely worth a look.