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Suzuki Kizashi Sport AWD road test

by Mark Walker

14th January, 2011

Home > Road Tests > Suzuki

Suzuki Australia launched the Kizashi during 2010, acclaiming it as their flagship model. The new sedan represents Suzuki's debut in the mid-sized segment. This new model was initially launched with front wheel drive only, with an all wheel drive variant called the Kizashi Sport AWD added in August 2010.

The respected Japanese brand ended 2010 on a 'high' with a record Australian sales result of 24,789 units which is partially attributed to the addition of the Kizashi and its participation in an extra market segment. Suzuki is looking positively toward 2011 with the Kizashi enjoying a full year of sales and the much anticipated launch of the all new Swift.

The Kizashi is made in Japan and at the time of writing is available in three variants. The entry level Kizashi XL, the mid-spec Kizashi XLS and the range topping Kizashi Sport AWD.

Suzuki has found an excellent balance between performance handling and comfort. Suzukiís engineers developed the Kizashi by covering thousands of kilometres on wide array of roads including challenging country roads in the United Kingdom, German autobahns, the famous Nordschleife at the NŁrburgring in Germany and Death Valley, USA. Their pursuit of producing a driverís car has produced an excellent result. We tested the Kizashi Sport AWD in and around Sydney including a rewarding drive north on the Great North Road.

The Kizashi Sport AWD newcomer has an impressive presence. The styling is unique to the Sport AWD and suitably sporting in intention. Amongst the most striking features are the 10-spoke 18" alloy wheels, which are exclusive to the Sport AWD. This model has a lower ride height, sitting 10mm lower than the 2WD variants and whilst this doesnít seem like much, it gives the car a more aggressive stance and improves the driving performance.

At the front, the Sport AWD gets a sports front bumper bar complete with a chrome mesh lower grille and neat chrome fog lamp bezels. The sports side skirts look at home on the car. At the rear, a discreet spoiler is fitted to the boot lid and over sized chrome exhaust surrounds are further signals of the cars intentions.

The styling is well balanced and looks both sporting and luxurious. Visually, the chrome features including chrome highlights at the base of each door add to the prestige appearance of the Sport AWD.

The most significant engineering advancement for the Sport AWD is the inclusion of Suzuki's active all wheel drive system called i-AWD. This system uses data captured by the ESP sensors to calculate when to increase or decrease torque to the front or rear wheels and it will also provide counter steering assistance. This is designed to ensure smooth acceleration and cornering without interference from under steer or over steer.

The driver has the option of selecting i-AWD or remaining exclusively in 2WD. A light is illuminated on the information display in the centre of the dash when i-AWD is selected and the mode can be changed at any time, even whilst on the move. The switch is conveniently located on the dash next to the steering wheel. The Kizashi is well balanced in both 2WD and AWD formats and offers an excellent driving experience in both modes. Our preference is for the added safety and confidence of the all wheel drive mode and that is what you are paying for with the Sport AWD.

The Sport AWD is powered by the same 2.4-litre DOHC in-line four cylinder engine featuring in all Kizashi models. This engine debuted in 2008 in the Suzuki Grand Vitara. The engine has a power output of 131 kW at 6,000 rpm and torque of 230 Nm at 4,000 rpm.

The Kizashi Sport AWD accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 8.8 seconds which is not fast. It is actually no faster than the base model Kizashi XL and this is perhaps the only slightly negative aspect of the Sport AWD. Nevertheless, the performance is adequate, especially when considered with the entire package. For example, on the plus side, the fuel economy of the Kizashi is excellent with Suzuki claiming (combined cycle) consumption of 8.4 litres per 100 km in the Sport AWD. During the test, the best result achieved was 9.1 litres and this was using both front wheel drive and AWD mode.

The Kizashi Sport AWD is only available with a continuously variable transmission. This is an intelligent automatic gearbox which also allows manual changes using the paddles mounted behind the wheel or the gear lever in the centre console. The theory behind the CVT is to ensure the engine revs and fuel economy are optimised and acceleration remains smooth. The paddle shift is very responsive. However, the CVT will resume control when a gear change is necessary if you don't make the paddle change in time. As with many cars, the paddle change is a bit of fun but most people are likely to barely use it.

The Sport AWD is 10 mm lower than the other Kizashi variants and benefits from a centre of gravity which is actually 15 mm lower. This reduces body roll further and adds to the responsiveness of the steering with improved turn in and directional change. The steering is precise and has a sporty feel. The ride is smooth and cabin noise is minimal.

Inside, the Sport AWD is very similar to the XLS variant. The overall cabin quality is high and well-specified. Suzuki has a reputation for building vehicles that last and the Kizashi no exception. Parts of the dash are perhaps biased towards durability and value rather than luxury but this doesnít take away too much from a very well designed vehicle.

The Kizashi Sport AWD sets itself apart with silver stitching in the leather seats, gear lever and hand brake lever. The luxury features include electric heated front seats with memory settings, dual zone climate control, rain sensing wipers, auto-dimming rear vision mirror and a tilt/slide glass sunroof with sun blind. The inclusion of one touch power windows on both front windows instead of simply the driverís window is a convenient bonus. The Rockford Fosgate sound system is excellent and pumps out 425 watts of sound. Better than average radio reception is standard also - we were still getting Sydney FM stations crystal clear over 100 kms out of town.

Keyless entry and keyless start/stop are standard. This feature is becoming more common in the market however it is generally reserved for higher priced vehicles. You still need the key in close proximity of the car. However, you may chose to leave it in your pocket or hand bag as it suits you. Front and rear parking sensors are also standard. The sensors are very conservative but can be turned off at the driverís discretion if you prefer no assistance. A rear view camera is available as a dealer fitted accessory if you want added peace of mind.

The Sport AWD comes standard with Bluetooth connectivity and it's one of the most simple to pair with a phone and comes with controls mounted on the steering wheel spokes. Itís as much a safety feature as a convenience in todayís mobile world.

Suzuki's Kizashi Sport AWD gets supportive leather seats, front and back. Both front seats are heated and electrically adjustable. The driverís seat is electrically adjustable 10 ways and has a lumbar adjustment and memory. The passenger seat is adjustable in 4 directions.

Although the Kizashi is a five seater, the realistic capacity is two adults in the front with two adults or three children in the rear. The rear leg room is adequate for adults. Storage capacity is also very reasonable. The boot space is 461 litres and swallows two sets of golf clubs comfortably. The rear seats can be folded down for additional cargo capacity although they do not fold completely flat. There is also a ski hatch in the centre of the rear seat which can be opened to cope with long narrow items.

The Kizashi gained a 5 star safety rating by US NCAP. In addition to the i-AWD system, the Sport AWD is built standard with safety features including anti-lock braking system, electronic brake force distribution (EBD), brake assist system, traction control, vehicle stability control (ESP) and six airbags (driver and front passenger airbags, front side airbags and side curtain airbags).

The Kizashi Sport AWD has a manufacturer's list price (MLP) of $39,990* plus on-road costs. The entry level Kizashi XL is currently priced from $29,990 drive away (conditions apply - check conditions with a local Suzuki dealer on this limited offer).

Suzukiís all-new sedan is a compelling well rounded package boasting distinctive design, high build quality, very high specification that strikes an excellent balance between performance, luxury, comfort, safety and value. It is an excellent first effort in this segment by Suzuki and will compete on merit in this very competitive segment.

NOTE: * MLP (manufacturer's list price) excludes options, dealer delivery fees and the various statutory charges. Additionally, all prices, fees, charges and specifications are always subject to change without notice.

More Suzuki News ..... here.

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