Final Drive: 2013 Suzuki Kizashi car test drives suzuki motoring memories final drive car culture car culture
Final Drive: 2013 Suzuki Kizashi car test drives suzuki motoring memories final drive car culture car culture
Final Drive: 2013 Suzuki Kizashi car test drives suzuki motoring memories final drive car culture car culture
2013 Suzuki Kizashi. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Mark Stevenson

During the 18th and 19th centuries, fears of being buried alive emerged, as cholera, an infection that can throw its host into a coma, became a widespread illness of concern. The public viewed the fear with genuine possibility. Coffin makers soon began building security coffins, which allowed someone buried alive to signal their undead state with a bell above ground attached to their finger or toe.

Suzuki’s Canadian operations may have died in March 2013, but the subsidiary was buried long before then. After years of rebadged Daewoos, lacklustre reception of a compact pickup, and dwindling national marketing, Suzuki’s North American operations were put to rest attached to a bell.

That bell was the Kizashi.

There was nothing particularly wrong with Suzuki’s mid-size sedan. You could get it with a manual. Handling was pretty impressive for its class. Hell, it was even handsome, though it did look a bit like a rounded Jetta. Had the Kizashi been on a dealer lot of any other automaker, it would have sold double, triple, or quadruple what it did.

But, it’s hard to sell a car when nobody knows it exists; harder yet when people don’t know the manufacturer still exists.

“Suzuki stills sells cars?” people would ask. “I thought they just made motorcycles.”

The Kizashi was supposed to change all that; reintroduce the brand to an unknowing public by selling an exciting, “sporty” alternative to the Toyorolets and Fondas they’d become accustomed to. Yet, the brand itself was dumb (as in unable to speak), as American and Canadian subsidiaries were given miniscule budgets to market the erstwhile contender.

Last summer, I finally had a chance to give the Kizashi a go for a week, thanks to Eric Corkum, owner of Metro Suzuki in Dartmouth (the same dealership that sold us, a devoted Suzuki family, many vehicles in the past). The example offered was a ‘loaded up’ demo with navigation, Bluetooth, leather seats, all-wheel drive, and a continuously variable transmission.

Final Drive: 2013 Suzuki Kizashi car test drives suzuki motoring memories final drive car culture car culture Final Drive: 2013 Suzuki Kizashi car test drives suzuki motoring memories final drive car culture car culture
2013 Suzuki Kizashi. Click image to enlarge

Mechanically, the Kizashi reminds me of the Sonata – the 2.4L four-cylinder engine is a little rough and didn’t really like to be revved, but everything was well sorted. The suspension was definitely tuned to the stiffer side, giving the Kizashi sporty handling without sacrificing too much in ride quality (something Hyundai still hasn’t figured out to this day). Yet, all positives were instantly nullified by the CVT, especially as it needed to send power to all four wheels.

Final Drive: 2013 Suzuki Kizashi car test drives suzuki motoring memories final drive car culture car culture
Final Drive: 2013 Suzuki Kizashi car test drives suzuki motoring memories final drive car culture car culture
2013 Suzuki Kizashi. Click image to enlarge

Throughout the week, I would jump happily into the Kizashi, drive completely content around town, and enjoy the experience. That is, until I got on the highway and put my foot to the floor. Instead of going faster, the accelerator translated gasoline into noise. The further you pushed the pedal, the more engine noise it produced, with no discernable difference in acceleration.

A few years ago, while driving a manual-equipped Kizashi in Texas, this lack of acceleration was not the case. While it was no sports car, it at least had the gumption to get out of its own way. Needless to say, the Texas auto journos didn’t give the Kizashi much attention, with it being for’n and all.

Inside, the Kizashi was equally handsome. Seats were firm and comfortable. Switchgear was of good quality and easy to find during my first drive in the car. Even the navigation was dead simple, mostly thanks to a partnership with Garmin. Suzuki couldn’t seem to get Bluetooth right, though, as my phone was unable to pair with the car, a deal-breaker for millennials Suzuki was looking to court at the time.

With all the quality instilled in the Kizashi, it sure lacked the magic of older Suzukis. Our Sidekicks always felt as if its parts were connected in some kind of mechanical homogeneity, assembled with much thought and purpose, in order to perform a symphony of hydraulic pressure and internal combustion. In comparison, the Kizashi was just a collection of parts, calculated on a spreadsheet, approved and stamped, to be screwed together like any other consumable.




About Mark Stevenson

Mark Stevenson is a former IT professional turned freelance automotive writer and news editor for Autos.ca. He's a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada and former member of the Texas Automotive Writers Association (TAWA). Mark spends an inordinate amount of time on motorcycles and resides in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia with his two dogs - Nismo and Maloo. You can find him on Twitter and Facebook.