Tweaked for the US
Styling is vital to the new Suzuki, writes NEIL McDONALD
THE most important new model in the history of Suzuki has taken a huge hit before it reaches the showrooms. The Kizashi has been shrunk and softened from the aggressive concept car that won fans at motor shows worldwide.
The production version is 130mm narrower and sits on a 150mm shorter wheelbase and the shape has been softened to appeal to conservative buyers in the US, its biggest target audience.
The payback is an 80mm increase in height, to improve headroom, though this has taken some of the edge off the design.
Suzuki pictures show a huge change from the teaser cars, which evolved from a sporty hatch to an all-wheel-drive crossover before the close-to-production version last year.
The reasoning is simple: Suzuki’s first mid-size car must face up to volume sellers such as the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord and Mazda6 in the sub-$30,000 class, so size is critical, particularly in the US.
The Kizashi and Camry are the same width and height but the Suzuki is 165mm shorter overall and has a 75mm shorter wheelbase than the popular Toyota.
Suzuki Australia general manager Tony Devers says the car looks smaller but still has a large cabin.
‘‘It actually looks good in the metal and a lot more aggressive in the flesh than the photos,’’ he says.
The car’s full specifications will be released at the Frankfurt Motor Show, but Suzuki has said it will come with an alloy 2.4-litre four-cylinder in front and all-wheel drive.
The four-cylinder is shared with the Grand Vitara and will be mated to a sixspeed manual gearbox or continuously variable transmission with paddle shifters.
A V6 all-wheel drive and turbo diesel are expected and Suzuki is developing a hybrid version.
Visually, Suzuki says the car is a combination of Japanese and European design.
The front retains the concept’s deep grille but is softer and the slim-line eyebrow headlights have given way to larger headlights and conventional foglights.
The short boot, short overhangs and sweeping roofline remain faithful to the concept.
The Kizashi will reach local showrooms in the second quarter of next year.