THE KIZASHI SEDAN is a complete about-face for Japan’s fourth largest vehicle manufacturer, having focused its previous efforts on compact and outdoorsy autos. Essentially, it’s a premium C-segment saloon, priced to compete with range-topping derivatives of the Toyota corolla, Mazda3 and Chev Cruze, plus perhaps lure existing premium compact buyers from the seats of their 3 Series BMWs and Audi A4s. Don’t expect sand boards, mountain bikes and kite surfing apparel to feature in the marketing hype for this car. Rather it’s likely to trumpet the supremely low levels of NVH (noise, vibration and harshness), the sumptuous materials and textures inside, the comfy ride and a comprehensive array of modern conveniences.
Just two derivatives are available, manual and CVT auto, both mated to a 2.4-litre in-line four that drives the front wheels. Despite being sourced from the Grand Vitara, in the Kizashi the J24B engine makes an impressive 131kW and 230Nm and is efficiently tuned for a claimed combined fuel cycle of 7.9l/100km, with a carbon footprint of 183g/km. Performance and handling impress, with the car’s zero to hundred sprint claimed at 7.8 seconds in the manual, 8.8 in the CVT. When thrown into a turn it grips tenaciously thanks to the 235/45R18 rubber, but does suffer quite a bit of body roll. Still, it’s a case of horses for courses: the Kizashi does what it says on its luxury tin. Visually it holds no surprises, with a front end that is clearly Suzuki. In profile and three quarter views it could be a Japanese Jetta, with a ducktail reminiscent of the 1 Series Coupe. I like it.
At R295900 for the manual and R310900 for the CVT version, the Kizashi dispels any doubts as to its premium position, though that’s a lot of money for a Suzuki and I wonder if the South African public is ready to fork out that kind of loot. No fault of the car, just that there are so many other options in this price range, including the slightly bigger, similarly priced and specced Hyundai Sonata. Then again, nothing cures an onslaught of buyer’s remorse quite like a standard features list best described as generous. Cue excellent seven-speaker sound system (with subwoofer) with MP3 capability (USB and Aux) all controllable via satellite controls on the three-spoke leather-trimmed helm. Cabin materials are well chosen and there is no shortage of cowhide, although a finer grain on the dashboard plastic would have been more convincing. Self- levelling auto headlights (HID), dual-zone climate control, three-position seat memory, sunroof and a wealth of safety kit also come standard. It’s a lot of car with flagship status from a vibrant Japanese manufacturer with a good reputation. The deal is sealed by a 3-yr/100 000km warranty and 6-yr/90 000km service plan. The name is fun to say, too.