With the new 12 registration plate in operation from 1 March for the UK’s peak sales month there is a lot of competition to attract buyers looking for value money. The new Suzuki Kizashi might be that motor.
Now Suzuki’s new D-segment (Mondeo land) Kizashi four door saloon is not going to have a huge effect on sales, only 500 units are destined for the UK this year but every little helps.
Get a FREE SUZUKI KIZASHI Brochure
Looking for a new car then why not start with a glossy SUZUKI KIZASHI brochure?
Although the Kizashi is new to the UK, it is not new elsewhere with over 25,000 global sales so far in Japan, USA, Australasia and India.
The biggest drawback for the UK market is that this new model, priced at £21,995, is only available with a petrol engine and here, in this sector, diesel engines are the best sellers by a significant margin.
The 2.4-litre, 176bhp, four cylinder unit also only comes with a CVT automatic transmission at launch, and with a 2WD/4WD function.
So for fleet and business user chooser customers the CO2 emission of 191g/km means a relatively high benefit-in-kind tax liability of 28 per cent. And road tax for retail and business users is an unhealthy £445 in the First Year rate and then still £245 for the second year onwards.
These are much higher tax figures than the Vauxhall Insignia or Ford Mondeo mainstream models. Suzuki is planning a manual transmission model, and a diesel engine is on the cards, but neither is likely soon.
There is of course the opportunity to sell the Kizashi to Suzuki’s loyal band of retail buyers who want a larger car and not an out-and-out 4WD SUV such as the Grand Vitara.
The business user-chooser customer who actually owns their business might also be tempted as the car looks very smart and sporty. It is well equipped and it a break away from the commonplace volume selling competition.
Another plus, or negative point, depending on people’s requirements, is that the four door saloon is a ‘compact’ D-Segment saloon at 4,650mm in length and almost 200mmm shorter than the sector sales leading Vauxhall Insignia.
It might be smaller but the rear seat legroom is still good, as is front space, only the headroom, because of the standard fit sunroof, will not appeal to drivers a little over six feet tall.
The rear seats fold to extend the load carrying versatility but in this mode the rear axle and suspension points intrude significantly into the load area. With the rear seats in place the boot has a capacity of 461-litres, which is average in the class but useful enough.
Kit levels and interior
Where the Kizashi really scores is its value for money purchase price and the high level of equipment; plus it has the two or four wheel drive function operated simply by a pushbutton.
In addition to the electronic stability programme and 18-inch alloy wheels, the saloon has seven airbags including one for the a driver’s knees, leather upholstery, electric front seats with driver’s seat three position memory function, heated front seats, electric glass sunroof, electrically operated windows and door mirrors, air conditioning, cruise control and an eight speaker Radio / CD system with Bluetooth and USB port.
The interior trim finishes are soft touch and look good quality and only the fascia sound system control panel looks dated. A sat/nav system is not included but is a dealer fit option.
Design and styling
Outside, the Kizashi looks sporty with its wide front and rear track stance with sculpted and flared wheelarches, meaty front and rear bumpers, linked by curved sills, and up front is a prominent Suzuki family face grille flanked by stylish sports headlights and under bumper foglights.
At the rear twin triangular exhaust tailpipes show a sporty clean pair of heels to other motorists. Given this car is Suzuki’s first move into the D-segment it really looks the business and they deserve considerable credit for that.
Drive and handling
The new model is also very comfortable with a compliant ride even though it has 18-inch alloy wheels as standard, which were fitted with Winter tyres on my test drive, which generally gives a firmer and noisier ride.
Suzuki has done a better job in the ride and handling department than many of its competitors. The steering is brilliant with lots of feedback and lots of front end grip, so it is engaging to drive.
The weak link however is the powertrain, apart from the 2/4WD facility which is first class, a 2.4-litre petrol engine is not going to be ideal for many buyers and the CVT auto transmission is also not a first choice option for the majority of traditional buyers in this class.
Still with only 500 units available it will be a niche product and I can see motorists who only drive a few thousand miles a year not being worried by the extra costs in CO2 based taxes.
By offering an automatic transmission and a 2/4WD facility the Kizashi claims a fairly unique position in the UK market, unless customers are willing to pay £30k or more.
The 176bhp and 170lb-ft of torque four cylinder engine should be acceptable but linking it to the CVT continuously variable auto gearbox makes it slow to respond, lethargic for acceleration, pulling away into fast moving traffic and similar situations.
The use of the tiptronic automated manual shift gearlever or paddle shift levers marginally speeds up proceedings but it always felt more inclined to do things at its own pace. Once in ‘the cruise’ it was fine and it’s really smooth and easy to drive in slow moving town traffic.
Top speed is 127mph and zero to 62mph takes officially 8.8 seconds but was closer to 10.0 seconds by my reckoning.
Two and four-wheel drive systems
Fuel consumption in the Combined Cycle is officially 34mpg but the best I could get from, my test car was 29.8mpg. Now that wasn’t recorded with the car being driven very hard due to the ice and snow. But those conditions were perfect to experience the two and four wheel drive system and that was impressive for grip and so easy to use.
In two wheel drive traction is mainly directed to the front wheels with a small proportion to the rear under acceleration. In four wheel drive form there is a 50-50 split of driving power to the front and rear wheels.
That 2/4WD function is so good, the sporty looks of the car really quite appealing and the ride and balance of the car very good. I just wish the Kizashi had the engine and gearbox to make the most of its handling abilities.
The car wanted to play, its heart didn’t.
Suzuki Kizashi 4WD Saloon
Engine/Transmission: 2.4-litre, four cylinder, normally aspirated petrol, 176bhp, 170lb ft of torque from 4,000rpm, 6-speed CVT auto, selectable two and for wheel drive.
Performance: 127mph, 0-62mph 8.8 seconds, 34mpg Combined Cycle, ( 29.8mpg on test), CO2 191g/km, VED road tax £4456 First Year rate then £245 per annum second year onwards, BIK company car tax 28%.
Insurance group: 26E.
Dimensions/capacities: L 4,650mm, W 1,820mm, H 1,470mm, boot space 461-litres with rear seats in place.
For: Great looks, high specification, fine-handling, first class steering feedback and grip, comfortable, easy to use 2/4WD system.
Against: Not a good combination of a petrol engine, CVT auto transmission and all wheel drive, needs a diesel engine for more appeal and lower running costs.