Suzuki Kizashi 2.4-litre CVT 4WD15 | 11 | 2011Scotcars rating

    Suzuki ready to go head-to-head with Audi and capture 'discerning buyer' with new Kizashi


    It won’t be here until the New Year, but I predict it’s going to come as a pleasant surprise to many people. The Kizashi (apparently it’s a Japanese word for ‘optimism', or ‘a sign of great things to come’) is a radical new departure for Suzuki, dipping an automotive toe into the highly competitive mid-sized saloon D-segment of the market for the first time. But what they’ve done is very clever – taking the top of the range four-wheel-drive version with all the extras and offering it at way below the price of any serious competition. They’re also being cautious. There will be only 500 available in the UK, and only around 100 will be coming to Scottish buyers.

    There’s only one model and a choice of only four metallic colours – white, grey, silver and black — so it will be a niche car aimed at discerning buyers. Suzuki has an image of who that is – a male in his mid-50s, who drives a low average annual mileage, who likes the security of four-wheel-drive and wants to be just that little bit different. It’s certainly worked elsewhere in the world – 23,000 of varying specification have already been sold in North America, Australia, Switzerland, Norway, Spain and the latest market of India over the past 18 months.   

    On the Road:

    Build quality is first class and the 2.4 litre petrol engine, taken from the Grand Vitara but with added horsepower, is very versatile. Coupled with a really smooth CVT transmission — which can also be driven manually with the steering wheel paddles or gearstick — it is a delight. I took it over some demanding roads around Loch Long in Argyll and it dealt admirably with gradients and bends, happily returning some grunt when needed.

    The adaptable four-wheel-drive system, which was first seen in Suzuki’s SX4, is designed to give added security and safety in slippery conditions on the road, rather than handling serious mud-plugging. It can be switched off through a dashboard button while the car’s moving, with power sent only to the front wheels. It certainly felt safe, secure and sure-footed while I was behind the wheel.  

    Comfort and Safety:

    The UK version is highly equipped with seven airbags, leather seats, electric heated memory front seats, electric glass sunroof, cruise control, eight speaker audio with Bluetooth and USB port. The only option is a touch-screen sat-nav system. Because of the low numbers being brought to the UK, it's unlikely to go through an NCAP safety rating, but the safety tests in Australia — which are similar to NCAP — gave it 34.8 our of 37. It is aimed directly at Audi’s A4 and Suzuki say the equivalent 2.0-litre quattro SE with the same specification would cost more than £33,000. Even the Subaru Legacy, with a much lower range of equipment, costs more than £27,000 compared to the Kizashi’s expected sale price of around £23,000.  

    Would I buy one?

    I’m certainly impressed by the price, the quality and the performance. Does anything else matter?

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    Alan Douglas

    Quick Stats
    Price OTR/As Tested tbc (estimated £23,000)
    Engine / Power: 2393cc 6-speed CVT / 175bhp
    How fast?: max 127mph / 0-62mph 8.8secs
    How big/heavy?: L4650mm W1820mm H1470mm / Weight 1625kg
    How thirsty/CO2?: Combined 34mpg / CO2 191g/km
    InsGP/Road tax: Gp27 / Band J £245
    Alternatives: Audi A4 Quattro; Subaru Legacy

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