Suzuki South Africa has now followed its Australian, Japanese and US relatives by launching the all-new Kizashi locally. Parting with conventional Suzuki tradition, the Kizashi is a larger sedan instead of a hatch or an SUV. And its target is one that’s hard to beat. But value being one of Suzuki’s mottos, it sure will give it a hard run for its won…
Kizashi has a tough road ahead. Previously king of this segment was the dreary yet highly popular Toyota Camry. Since its demise a gap arose, until the arrival of current top dog the Hyundai Sonata. Other contenders include the ever-punchy Mazda6 and the never-say-die Volkswagen Passat.
Not a large pool then, but certainly one with enough depth to drown an unsuspecting newcomer. Suzuki is confident it not only brought the armour, but also the arsenal to start a true pigeon fight in the coop. Mainly we are talking about its design, the interior, a raft of features and the engine, a naturally aspirated 2.4-litre 4-cylinder.
In sketching the Kizashi, Suzuki went for a dash of athleticism and a dose of style. That imposing front grille flanked by large headlights makes a statement of presence. The side profile is smooth and unassuming, while the rear completely flips the script and gets all creative. Overall the car looks sturdy and solid. It runs on standard 18-inch alloys with 235/45 ZR18 low profile tyres which add to its sporty ambition.
The word Kizashi means “something great is coming” and one does feel a slight sense of occasion near the car, especially when the engine starts up. Twisting out a heady peak torque figure of 240Nm at 4000rpm, mixed with 131kW of power at 6500rpm, something great almost comes out. With claimed figures of 7.8 seconds for the 0 – 100km/h sprint in the standard 6-speed manual and a full second later for the CVT gearbox, Kizashi is by no means a rice rocket. Nor has it claimed to be, so it’s fine. But average fuel consumption numbers of 7.9 litres per 100km and a top speed of 215 km/h are very respectable for its type and size. Incidentally Suzuki says it’s the fastest car they have ever made.
The interior boasts nice features such as a music system with an auxiliary port for devices like iPods, dual-zone climate control, a trip computer that displays info like how long to go before the tank is empty, driver’s seat has a memory function and 10-way adjustment, all-round electric windows, a leather-covered steering wheel with satellite controls, sunroof, parking assistance and more. All these are included in the listed price by the way.
In terms of suspension, Kizashi sits on McPherson struts up front and a multi-link arrangement at the rear. Pretty much par for the course these days. Just to make sure, they tested the car over many different types of roads, including everyday backroads, freeways, and the infamous Nürburgring;s Nordschleife where every aspirational sports car is put to the test.
Safety is expectedly a major issue everywhere and so Suzuki has provided for it via soup alphabet like ABS with EBD, ESP, six airbags and others that minimise the severity of an impact with a pedestrian for instance. With so many pedestrians being killed by cars all over the world, this has become a real source of concern.
Kizashi is entering what is simply a dying segment. Except for the Sonata, very little else shifts any units here. Essentially then, it will take on neighbour Korea’s sales sensation. I had hoped that price would be a major factor but it seems Suzuki has opted for the higher ground, presumably to appear more premium than Sonata. It was always going to be difficult killing that elephant on an affordability level, so hopefully Kizashi has other tricks in its bag to neutralise the incumbent and steal away significant sales.
2.4 SLX manual (R295 900)
2.4 SLX CVT (R310 900)