Suzuki scales up with Kizashi

The Suzuki Kizashi is one of the more curious cars for sale.

With a 2.4-litre petrol engine, switchable four-wheel drive and a six-speed CVT gearbox, it’s a saloon car like no other. It features a huge equipment list and a sophisticated suspension system so you’re getting a lot of car for your money.

Think Suzuki cars and you’ll probably think of buzzing superminis and Grand Vitara SUVs. The idea of Suzuki producing a car that might compete with an Audi or even an upper specification SEAT or Skoda doesn’t seem particularly credible. That is until you run the rule over the firm’s Kizashi. It’s a good looking car and a strong seller in the US and Australia.

The Kizashi is an unusual and talented vehicle. The i-AWD four-wheel drive setup is a very smart system able to direct up to 50% of torque to the back via an electromagnetic coupling device that controls a series of clutches. It can even counter over and understeer via a torque vectoring facility. The engine is a development of the Grand Vitara unit and is a little vocal when extended, but the ride and handling are well-judged, even with the winter tyres fitted to the test car thanks to a strut front and multi-link rear suspension setup. At cruising speeds the engine is nicely muted, with only some wind noise around the huge mirrors disturbing the peace.

The Kizashi is a really handsome piece of vehicle design. The muscular bulging wheelarches and the sculpted tail pipes combine with a classic long bonnet, stub tailed silhouette with an aggressively rising beltline.

The interior design is neat without offering too much that’s particularly ground breaking. Some of the materials aren’t up to the standards of the entry-level cars of the premium brands but it feels far from built down to a price. The one shortcoming really only applies to very tall drivers as the sunroof robs you of an inch or so of headroom. The boot looks small but is a reasonable 461 litres.

There’s a natural inclination to a sharp intake of breath at the thought of a Suzuki that costs nearly £23,000 but the Kizashi is seriously well equipped. Just the fundamentals are quality, the all-wheel drive system, clever CVT transmission and sophisticated suspension being features that its rivals will often lack. You’ll spot the handsome 18-inch alloy wheels and the full leather interior, extras which could easily tack a couple of thousand pounds onto the price of some other cars.

It doesn’t stop there. You’ll get seven airbags, high intensity discharge headlights, an electric sunroof, ESP stability control, front and rear parking sensors, electric front seats, of which the driver’s seat is 10-way adjustable, keyless entry, an eight speaker stereo with subwoofer, cruise control, USB port and audio controls on the steering wheel. The only option available is a touch screen sat nav. That is a lot of gear for £23,000.

If the Kizashi is indeed a statement of Suzuki’s capability, then consider me convinced. It’s a genuinely good car. With a low emission diesel engine and a hatchback it could be a real sales success.

l The Co-operative Motor Group in Mansfield is holding a special preview open weekend starting on 21st February. As well as the new Suzuki Kizashi, you’ll also be able to view the new Suzuki Swift Sport. For more details, please call 01623 595373