From £20,965
Has the style, refinement and driver appeal to take on the best

Our Verdict

Suzuki Kizashi 2012-2013
Can Suzuki challenge Korea’s budget brands with its new saloon?

Can the Suzuki Kizashi challenge Korea’s budget brands?

  • First Drive

    Suzuki Kizashi 2.4 CVT

    Suzuki’s family debutant is likable and good value, but incomplete.
  • First Drive

    Suzuki Kizashi 2.4 Sport

    Suzuki’s first family saloon shows promise as a niche alternative to a boring four-door hack
19 November 2009

What is it?

This is Suzuki’s first ever crack at the D-sector, the Kizashi. It's a smart, premium-feel four-door that’s smaller and a touch heavier than a Ford Mondeo.

Suzuki originally planned a whole new family of Kizashis, but the global economic crisis put a stop to all that and the only version out so far is this four-door saloon with 2.4-litre petrol engine.

At present its main markets will be America and Japan, because in the current economic climate Suzuki says it wants to take it slow and steady with Kizashi, its most ambitious model to date.

This 2.4’s on the market in Tokyo for the equivalent of £18,600. Good value? Sure, but that's still big money for a Suzuki. Can it justify it?

What's it like?

Dynamically, the standout is the chassis. Whether it’s driving through town or attacking some good B-road corners, the Kizashi feels crisp, poised and super responsive - a real quality act.

Suzuki has come up with a taut, Eurocentric chassis – front struts, rear multi-link – which is all-new. Steering, at just 2.6 turns lock to lock, is both accurate and quick, while overall body balance and control are outstanding.

You can go late, hard and deep into a bend and the Kizashi is still there with you, strongly resisting understeer or body lean, staying resolutely on line. Then there are the brakes: pedal feel and modulation are first rate.

One (minor) dynamic fly in the ointment is Suzuki’s insistence on faddish 18-inch wheels. They're fine for grip and roadholding, but these meaty Dunlops take the edge off the Kizashi’s motorway ride, which is overly firm and knobbly. At low to medium speeds, though, the Suzuki’s ride is sportingly firm but perfectly okay.

The Kizashi’s 2.4-litre engine, tried here with a continuously variable transmission, is smooth, refined and free-revving. Also, with 184bhp on tap, the Suzuki rarely feels slow. The CVT, with steering wheel paddle shifters, is one of the best yet from Japan and is good for economy. However, it blunts top end pace, so keen drivers may well prefer the optional six-speed manual ’box.

Inside, spec is high and the standard leather seats are stylish and very comfortable. Cabin space is excellent all round. Doors shut with an upscale thunk and cabin trim and plastics are well up on repmobile class. Suzuki, in fact, benchmarked BMW, Audi and VW, which explains the strong, solid Germanic feel to the interior as a whole.

The instruments are nice and clear, but maybe Suzuki took the Teutonic thing a bit too far as the dashboard is a pretty dour affair.

Outside, the Kizashi is also a looker, with a sleek, high-waist profile, nicely balanced front end and twin exhausts faired into the rear bumper. With a BMW-like 'Bangle bustle' boot rounding things off, it’s not totally original, but it works.

Should I buy one?

Exterior and interior Suzuki Kizashi pictures

Suzuki is probably not the first company that springs to mind when the call goes out to produce a credible new Mondeo rival from scratch. But on this evidence you’d be surprised.

The Kizashi turns out to be bang on target: good looking, agile, refined, fun to drive, a car that can truly give the Mondeos and Insignias of this world a run for their money.

Skeptical? You’re maybe not alone there, but the fact is, straight out the box, the Kizashi ranks as an extraordinary effort. It's a crying shame a car this good is not on its way to the UK. Sure, it would be a bit of a curio, perhaps, but the Kizashi is a cracking drive.

Peter Nunn

Join the debate

Comments
18

20 November 2009

It's interesting comparing this to the family hatch group test, and also Chevvy write-up. For the money, this appears to pffer a better proposition than either Koreans or the establsihed European brands in a band below. It looks like Suzuki have been lying low and learning from the mistakes of it's competitors; even if the whole package is a bit derrivative. For instance, the front is very similar to Toyota's new Avensis, the side a heavy dash of C-Class and more than a nod to BMW at the rear. Also, can't help thinking from the pics that the interior is a mish-mash of old school Audi with the architecture of the cabbie's favourite: Carina-E. But, from reports so far, it sounds to have the ride/handlinh advantage over the Koreans whilst offering the same value.

However a 2.4 petrol for theEurop market, especial at this level is a bit of a no-no. I can only see this swiping sales from teh larger Korean models, which, over here at least are relatively few. Of course, that's not what it is designed for, and it should reposition Suzuki on the US market.

For here, it needs GM's smaller petrol and diesel engines.

20 November 2009

I like the look of it, and in my mind, this is the car the Legacy should of been. Oh well...

20 November 2009

Even though I will never be able to understand why the area around the headlights has to be so big when the headlights themselves are getting ever smaller, but that aside, if my memory serves me right, would have to be Suzuki's best effort yet. In between some mediocre designs and this one, they have managed to produce some real monstrosities in terms of automotive design; of course, still haven't been able to out do the Prius though.

In short, their best effort yet, which can be improved. Having said that, would any body want to drive a Suzuki which costs in excess of £18000? I have my doubts.

20 November 2009

The car looks fine, very similar to a Passat at the front. Though as others have said the petrol engine is not suitable for the UK.

Also not suitable for the UK, Peter Nunn, is the US spelling of sceptical in the summary of your test. Keep to UK spellings please.

20 November 2009

I like it... Look like a Passat/Jetta at the front but none the worse for that.

Certainly it would have a mountain to climb in badge obsessed Britain but would be an interesing choice.

[quote slipslop]Also not suitable for the UK, Peter Nunn, is the US spelling of sceptical in the summary of your test. Keep to UK spellings please.[/quote]

I think we'll add "eurocentric" to that. Yuk.

20 November 2009

I think Suzuki have done a fine job, the car looks quite germanic, both interior and exterior look good and well designed. The price is very good too, £18k thats a mildly warm Focus or Astra territory and I know which I would rather have. There shouldn't be any quality issues either a Suzuki do a sterling job with the latest Vitara.

20 November 2009

[quote AwakeSpectator]Having said that, would any body want to drive a Suzuki which costs in excess of £18000? [/quote] depends who's picking up the tab.

21 November 2009

The Kizashi (Prounounced KIZZ-AH-SHI) is a great car that should have been out 2 years ago, instead of that rubbish it replaces in the US market the Suzuki Forenza=The US Version of Top Gear's Reasonably priced car.

Top Gear should either replace the Reasonably priced car with a Kizashi or a Cruze. The last 2 versions (Suzuki Aerio=US Spec Leana, and the Forenza) were overpriced rubbish. These guys are like Hyundai 5 years ago, they need to let people know they are a good make now through a marketing blitz. However, in typical Suzuki fashion they will blow this opportunity and they will be forced to pull out of the US Market (They will pull out in 2 years if sales do not improve), or they will be bought out by WV, and GM will get Crumbs.

21 November 2009

Its got all the tools to compete with the New Hyundai Sonata (Appearing Q2 2010), New VW NMS, or Buick Regal (Opel Insignia), in terms of fit and finish, but the engine tech is outdated compared to a Sonata, or the VW. The Kizashi only gets 30 MPG. (US) Which for a D Car is not impressive anymore.

Its equivalent to the Buick though.

I dont know Suzuki's track for Europe, but the Kizashi is advertised on the American website as the beginning of true affordable luxury that will raise the entire Suzuki Marque to that standard.

So, I guess Suzuki is following Hyundai and VW upmarket?

21 November 2009

"You can go late, hard and deep into a bend and the Kizashi is still there with you, strongly resisting understeer or body lean, staying resolutely on line." Just need to add....... Piling in hot to a particularly damp switchback I lifted off smartly, felt the back end go light, enjoyed the fertile budding of a full on slide. I simply gave it a dab of oppo and I was away. The Suzuki SX4 1.6 SLX saloon is a bitch. And I spanked it.

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