Tweaked for the US

Styling is vi­tal to the new Suzuki, writes NEIL McDON­ALD

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News -

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.

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