Kizashi to be a true stayer
IN THE future, the Suzuki Kizashi will become the Datsun 1600. Go to a rally meeting and see how many Datsun 1600s are still running around.
They have a great little chassis, excellent handling and bullet-proof mechanics. The same could be said for the new Kizashi, the first mid-sized car from the Japanese manufacturer and possibly the future favourite of amateur rally drivers.
Now Suzuki has given the Kizashi a sportier look and added all-wheel drive, but still kept the price under $40,000. The Kizashi Sport AWD costs $39,990, which is $3000 more than the topselling XLS with continuously variable transmission.
That puts it in competition with the slightly larger Subaru Liberty, which starts at $35,490 but equivalent equipment level models are over $40,000.
You get more than just AWDfor the extra $3000.
Outside there is a newlook grille with black chrome mesh, bigger air dams, new 18-inch alloys, chrome side highlights and fog light surrounds, a rear boot spoiler, side skirts and 10mm lower suspension with stiffer springs.
In the cabin there is a new leather steering wheel with chromed accents, a silver double-stitching highlight on the leather seats and trim and Bluetooth with controls on the steering wheel and the ability to play your music. This is all on top of a very high level of specification in theFWDmodels.
The car retains its 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, but there is a strong push from Suzuki Australia to introduce a turbo-powered unit, such is their belief in the chassis to safely handle the extra power.
On the styling front, for some, there may be a bit too much bling, but sports drivers quite like that.
I think it’s a handsome cab with enough touches of chrome bling to make it look a step up on the top-spec XLS without overdoing it.
Take it for a drive and words such as refined, quiet and poised come to mind. But when we took the standard Kizashi on Carsguide
In the cabin there is a new leather steering wheel with chromed accents, a silver double-stitching highlight on the leather seats and trim and Bluetooth
Car of the Year testing in November, we were surprised by the lack of lateral grip from the Yokohama low-noise tyres on wet hot- mix asphalt surfaces. So I went searching for similar surfaces in the rain to see if the lack of grip in the AWD model led to the same squirmy handling we experienced in theFWDmodel.
While the Yokohama tyres are still compromised for wet lateral grip, the AWD system works overtime to reduce the oversteer and understeer shenanigans.
In countersteer situations, the power steering also lightens the wheel weight to help you correct a skid.
Apart from the tyres, my only other concern is the gearbox. It is one of the better continuously variable transmissions I’ve tried with a quick response and little flaring. However, I heard it groan a couple of times when pushed. It would be nice if Suzuki offered their six-speed manual gearbox from the standard model and truly earned that ‘‘Sport’’ tag.
That said, what is the verdict? The car is so quiet, you can afford to slap on some decent rubber that makes a bit more road noise but provides more assuring wet weather grip. Given Suzuki’s reputation for reliability and this car’s excellent handling charac-teristics, in 20 years there’s a good chance you could still be running it competitively at your local rally track.