Something great is coming, that is what Suzuki is telling me with the arrival of its all-new sport sedan Kizashi (pronounced Kee-Zah-Shee) model. So let me get this straight, this new vehicle is the something great or this car is the messenger telling us something great is coming?
Either way, in my opinion something great is already here – the 2011 Suzuki Kizashi SLS Sport. Many hold strong to the “first impressions are usually right” theory and my first impressions of this car are very positive.
I remember Kizashi arriving in concept form a couple of years ago and looked forward to it coming into the press fleet as a production unit. Well, it is here and it is a huge improvement over past sedans brought to the North American market by the automaker and it is offered at a competitive price with a great warranty. And it looks GOOD.
Suzuki aims the Kizashi sport sedan squarely at the Audi A4 and Acura TSX models. While I don’t think many Acura and Audi customers are ready to head over to the Suzuki showroom, I do feel the Kizashi stands a good chance of causing a few ripples in the Euro-spec sport sedan segment and with a few tweaks here and there might just catch the others off-guard.
Highlighting the Kizashi are its strong styling front and rear while offering a host of creature comforts inside. The sport packaging gives the vehicle very good road manners although I don’t feel it is quite ready for any racing venues. Suzuki offers front or all-wheel drive in Kizashi and even our fully laden front-drive sport model with leather and all the goodies came in right around 25 grand, well under the competition.
Our tester had the sport-tuned suspension, sport aero body kit, sport wheels and enhanced brake system and a killer 425-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system with satellite radio.
So what needs tweaking? Our car featured the six-speed manual transmission, which was very welcome to get any sort of sport-type performance from the only engine offered in the Kizashi – a 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder generating 185hp and 170 lb. ft. of torque. And the clutch was perhaps the wimpiest I had ever experienced in a passenger car – ever. Perfect for beginners and folks with no lower extremity muscle tone but lifeless for the masses. And perhaps they could find a few more mpg on the highway than our tester’s 29.
All-in-all though the new Suzuki Kizashi SLS Sport is a good-looking, good-driving, good-value automobile, and with a few improvements in the powertrain would announce to the world that something great is already here.