2011 Suzuki Kizashi: A sign of the future, today
By Mike Blake, Carlisle Events
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Very seldom do we see a car line in America that carries a foreign model name. More often than not, cars that bear an ethic name in their land of origin are renamed something more Western-sounding, for American consumption.
But with the mid-size Suzuki Kizashi, you get a new all-wheel-drive sport sedan that delivers a blend of dynamic performance with trendy design aesthetics, and with its original Japanese name.
The Kizashi (pronounced “Kee-Zah-Shee”), carries the Japanese name for “omen,” “sign” or “warning.” Could Suzuki be warning other automotive manufacturers that they plan to be important players in the mid-size sport car market?
The Kizashi is positioned to become Suzuki’s flagship and moves the Suzuki brand upscale without abandoning the company’s traditional emphasis on content and value.
For 2011, Suzuki adds a Sport trim to the GTS and SLS models, with a host of external and internal modifications that include a more muscular front fascia (with chrome accents) and lower grille; body side sill extensions; lower body side molding with chrome accents; a trunk mounted spoiler; custom lightweight 18-inch alloy wheels appropriate to a flagship vehicle and typical of more expensive sport sedans; a unique sport steering wheel and contrasting stitching on its leather seats (SLS only), shift boot and parking brake boot.
Assembled in Sagara, Japan, Kizashi exceeds Japanese government regulations on size and engine displacement for compact cars, and thus is characterized as a mid-size. The Kizashi Sport SE measures 183.1 inches long, 71.7 inches wide and 58.3 inches high on a 106.3-inch wheelbase. Ground clearance is a low 5.7 inches.
Standard exterior installs include projector beam headlamps, body-color dual power remote-controlled outside mirrors, rear window defroster, side marker lamps, its signature honeycomb grille and Supermanesque “S” on the front.
Powered by a 2.4-liter DOHC 4-cylinder engine that puts out 180hp and 170 lbs-ft of torque, the multipoint injection fuel distribution is efficient, but there isn’t a great deal of low-end torque, while passing acceleration is good and uphill brawn is steady.
The automatic CVT moved my test Kizashi from zero to 60ph in 9-seconds flat en route to a 17-second quarter-mile, but the manufacturer says the automatic is quicker, possibly by a full second in the dash.
EPA rated at 23mpg in city driving and 30mpg on the highway, my test vehicle averaged 24.7 in mixed-use driving.
From a performance perspective, Kizashi moves and handles well, and the FWD Sport GTS is a solid auto-cross executor, while the AWD version modulates twisties well enough for most drivers. The i-AWD system allows drivers the ability to switch between AWD and 2WD for better fuel economy.
Electronic rack-and-pinion power steering is responsive, and the front suspension employs Independent MacPherson strut and coil springs, with a multi-link rear suspension to smooth out most road irregularities. In fact, Kizashi’s sport suspension is very firm, but the low ride height and ground clearance make even slight bumps noticeable
Interior measurements come in at a cozy 39.3 inches of front headroom and 37 inches in the back seats, 41,7 inches of headroom in row one and 35.6 in row two, with 55.5 inches of shoulder room for the driver and passenger and 54.6 inches for rear seat inhabitants.
Standard interior niceties include cloth seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel, dual-zone automatic temperature control with rear vents, in-cabin microfilter, driver information center, keyless entry and pushbutton start, power windows and door locks, 7-speaker AM/FM audio system with XM availability, steering wheel audio controls, USB audio input, digital clock, cruise control with steering wheel-mounted controls, HomeLink wireless control system, LED ambience lighting, map lights, courtesy lights, cargo area lights, glove compartment light, sun visors with extensions and illuminated vanity mirrors, front and rear cabin lights, power remote trunk release, front and rear passenger assist grips, split-folding rear seats with center pass-through and 10-way power driver seat with 3-position memory.
Safety items consist of an electronic stability program, Bosch anti-lock braking system with electronic brake force distribution, brake assist, brake-shift interlock system, dual front advanced airbags with supplemental restraint system, front and rear side-impact airbags, side curtain airbags that cover front and rear, side-impact door beams, energy-absorbing trim on pillars and roof-side rails, foot-protecting design, knee bolsters, tire pressure monitoring system, rear child seat tethers and anchors, child safety rear door locks, vehicle security system with immobilizer and center high-mounted stop light.
The 2011 Suzuki Kizashi is base priced at $18,999 plus $745 in freight for an invoice of $19,744. My test SE based at $21,899, plus freight and $130 for the Black Pearl Metallic exterior paint mated to a Black cloth interior, for a sticker of $22,744. On-board options included a sunshade ($67); and XM radio ($590) for a final sticker price of $23,431.
Colorful dash trims, cargo nets, snowboard carrier, bike carrier module, roadside emergency kit, nose mask, chrome moldings, special license plate frames and sunroof wind deflector are some of the additional options Suzuki offers to spiff-up your Kizashi.
Kizashi an omen … a sign of the future for Suzuki.
> Visit www.CarlisleEvents.com for more on the automotive hobby.
Mike Blake, former editor of KIT CAR magazine, joined Carlisle Events as senior automotive journalist in 2004. He's been a "car guy" since the 1960s and has been writing professionally for about 30 years.
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