The Kizashi is to play a significant role in the Suzuki Motor Company’s plan for growth. Unlike the hatchbacks and 4x4s for which the Japanese car maker is known, this is Suzuki’s first family saloon, and is a genuinely fresh and different entrant into Europe’s traditionally crucial Mondeo class. However, Suzuki has a big ask going up against the big guns of Ford and Vauxhall, not to mention alternative offerings to the Mondeo and Insignia that come from Skoda, Volkswagen and Mazda.

The biggest hurdle in the UK for the Suzuki will be that there’s no diesel engine on offer, which at a stroke will rule out the Kizashi for the majority of the class faithful. The only available engine is a 2.4-litre, four-cylinder petrol unit with 176bhp and 170lb ft of torque, mounted crossways under the bonnet and mated to a continuously variable transmission driving all four wheels. 

It allows the Kizashi a fairly unique position in the UK market, offering both an automatic gearbox and switchable four-wheel drive for less than £22,000, in a class where the combination can cost more than £30k, but it lumbers the Kizashi with decidedly underwhelming fuel economy and CO2 emissions numbers.

Suzuki’s UK distributor expects to sell just 500 of these compact four-door saloons in its first year – in a segment where the most popular models will hit 50,000 units.

Top 5 Compact saloons

  • The Jaguar XE - the big cat's new compact exec
    Jaguar's new four cylinder 2.0-litre Ingenium diesel engine comes with either 161bhp or 178bhp outputs

    Jaguar XE

    1
  • BMW 3 Series saloon
    BMW 3 Series is priced from £24,975

    BMW 3 Series

    2
  • Ford Mondeo Titanium 180PS

    Ford Mondeo

    3
  • The 2015 Audi A4

    Audi A4

    4
  • Mercedes-Benz C-Class
    The C-Class shares a lot of its looks with the new S-Class, furthering its desirability

    Mercedes-Benz C-Class

    5

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Audi Q2 1.4 TFSI 150 S tronic
    First Drive
    29 May 2016
    We head to Havana to find out how the new Audi Q2 is shaping up ahead of its November launch
  • Seat Leon 1.4 EcoTSI FR Titanium
    First Drive
    27 May 2016
    High-spec new Titanium FR trim is temptingly good value, particularly on the semi-enthusiastic 1.4 EcoTSI petrol
  • Kia Niro
    First Drive
    27 May 2016
    The Kia Niro will be one of the greenest cars in the compact crossover class when it goes on sale later this year. We drive it to see what else it has to offer
  • Car review
    27 May 2016
    Can the turbocharged successor to the 458 raise the bar again?
  • Car review
    27 May 2016
    The big-in-every-way Bentley SUV lands. We assess the impact