Suzuki Kizashi, 2010–2013. Bottom: 2011 Suzuki Kizashi Sport. Click image to enlarge
Review by Justin Pritchard
Vehicle Type: Compact sedan
History/Description: Suzuki Canada’s president, Seiichi Maruyama, told me back in 2009 that it’s pronounced “KEY-zashi”, not “KAH-zashi”. We were chatting on the Kizashi’s pre-sale media launch, and Maruyama often smiled with a modest proudness when talking about the new Suzuki sports sedan. This machine was a big deal for his brand, and he was incredibly excited and passionate about it.
Translated from Japanese, Kizashi means ‘something great is coming’. This Kizashi was a unique and sharp sedan that flanked trail-ready products like the Grand Vitara and XL7 in showrooms, while giving the brand a bigger presence in the mid-size sedan segment. Kizashi held models like the Malibu, 6 and Legacy as its competitors – even if its smaller-than-those-guys sizing might make it a worthy alternative to a Civic, Corolla or Jetta, too. In any case, Kizashi was on sale to Canadians for only a few years before the brand ceased automotive business operations in Canada.
Upscale feature content included automatic climate control, heated leather, Bluetooth, memory seats, parking radar, a Rockford Fosgate stereo system and more. One touch opens and closes both front windows, and Kizashi returns three blinks for every tap of its turn signal lever. The Kizashi was full of thoughtful and upscale touches like this.
Engines / Trim: Look for a 2.4L four-cylinder on all models, generating 180 or 185 horsepower depending on the year. Front-drive models could be had with a six-speed manual, while all AWD models got a CVT transmission with manual mode. Kizashi came with front-drive as standard and AWD as an option early on, before AWD was made standard. S, SX and Sport trim grades were applied to models from simple to basic.
So, how does a 180-horsepower sedan with no gears pull off the promise of sporty dynamics touted by Suzuki as its biggest party favour? Kizashi’s engineers say it’s all under the car. They benchmarked Volkswagen and Alfa Romeo for stability and handling, and set off to create the best chassis in the class. The goal, simply, was to give drivers a more entertaining and involving experience than they’d find elsewhere.
What Owners Like: Common likes include the upscale looks both inside and out, good materials selection and overall appearance and character. The six-speed manual transmission is a favourite among driving enthusiasts, and audiophiles love the standard USB audio port. On a test-drive of an early model, your writer noted a heavy and locked-on character to the steering, which itself is mischievously light and eager. Big steering motions happen with little steering input, and it all feels nicely, naturally matched to the weight and size of the car. So yes – Suzuki largely had this thing nailed when it came to dynamics.
What Owners Dislike: Common gripes include trunk hinges which eat up trunk space, the lack of an available up-level engine, and a sporty and firm ride that some drivers find harsh. Your writer’s testing notes suggest that Kizashi can be stiff and abrupt on some surfaces, but those who appreciate a good bend in the road won’t mind the trade-off. Some owners wish for better fuel-economy on AWD-equipped models, too.
Some owner reviews on www.autoTRADER.ca
Suzuki Kizashi, 2010–2013. Click image to enlarge
The Test Drive: Start your Kizashi test drive with a full walk-around, inspecting the paint and panels for signs of chipping, scratching and dents. Some owners complain of poor durability from the Kizashi’s paint-job, a common complaint of many new cars and possibly the cause of eco-friendly paint processes.
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A check of the tires and wheels for signs of damage, condition and finish wear is also advised. Note that tires should be worn evenly across – any excessive wear on the inside or outside of the tire treads may indicate an alignment issue that should be fixed. Look for signs of curb-rash on the Kizashi’s sporty alloy wheels, and call any higher-than-expected levels of wear into pricing negotiations.
On board, scrutinize the cabin for any damaged or missing trim pieces, especially around the lower portion of the seats. Confirm proper operation of all electronics, including the Kizashi’s communication and multimedia systems.