2010 Suzuki Kizashi Preview

FAST FACTS
  • New midsize sports sedan
  • Standard 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine
  • Standard 6-speed manual transmission
  • Standard 4-wheel-disc, Akebono anti-lock brakes
  • Standard sport suspension tuning
  • Standard stability and traction control
  • Optional continuously variable transmission (CVT) with shift paddles
  • Optional all-wheel drive with up to 50 percent of power going to the rear wheels
  • Optional 18-inch wheel-and-tire package
  • Standard cloth sport seats
  • Optional leather with 3-stage heating and memory seat positions
  • Standard keyless push-button start
  • Optional streaming audio via Bluetooth
  • Standard dual-zone climate control
  • Optional 425-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system
  • Eight airbags come standard: dual front, front side, rear side, and side curtains
  • Navigation, park assist, rain-sensing wipers, rear camera are optional
  • Engineering drives included the Autobahn, Alpine roads, English cobblestones, and the Nurburgring
  • Hybrid model in development for later debut
  • Kizashi is Japanese for "something great is coming"
  • Built in Sagara, Japan
  • On sale in winter of 2010

Introduction

2010 Suzuki KizashiDon't count Suzuki out just yet. Though rumors swirl about whether the Japanese motorcycle, marine and auto maker can weather the current economic storm and continue to market its limited model lineup through a shrinking dealer base in the U.S., Suzuki steadfastly sticks to its guns, reminding us that it has remained profitable through the recession, that its quality has dramatically improved in recent years, and that its residual values are rising to parity. For 2010, a new ad agency with a new "Full Speed Ahead" tagline solidly ties Suzuki's model lineup to its motorcycles and marine business, as well as the "confident explorers" who choose Suzuki when the whistle blows and-yabba, dabba, doo-it's time to have some fun. Couple this optimism with industry predictions that auto sales will increase 45 percent over the next two years, and Suzuki's own assertion that "thrift is on the rise" as a result of consumers who've been burned by cratering home values, shrinking 401K accounts, and increasing credit rates, and the company feels the time is ripe to cement its transformation from supplier of small, inexpensive modes of transportation to purveyor of fun, lifestyle-oriented vehicles. Enter the 2010 Suzuki Kizashi.

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2010 Suzuki Kizashi

Design

According to Suzuki, "the world doesn't need another boring midsize sedan." Instead, what the world needs is "a world-class sports sedan that the average person can afford." The 2010 Kizashi, in Suzuki's opinion, is that car. Translated from Japanese, Kizashi means "something great is coming," and the automaker used the moniker on a series of concept vehicles that previewed this production sedan.

Development targets for the all-new Kizashi were the Acura TSX, Alfa Romeo 159, and the Volkswagen Passat. Suzuki wanted to build a car with personality and character that blended upscale design and craftsmanship with performance, and the Kizashi's real-world proving grounds included Germany's Autobahn and Nurburgring, Switzerland's Alpine mountain roads, and England's cobblestone streets.

Exterior styling aims to convey an upscale presence despite tidy dimensions. Suzuki calls it bold, aggressive, contemporary and lean, specifically calling attention to the available multi-spoke 18-inch alloy wheels and integrated dual-outlet exhaust. We see hints of Volkswagen up front, a bit of Nissan Maxima in the back, and plenty of Acura RL in the greenhouse, doors and decklid. We also see wheels that are gonna take forever to clean when covered with brake dust.

Inside, Suzuki wanted to craft an upscale look and feel that would appeal to enthusiast drivers aspiring for a luxury sport sedan but budgeted for a Camry. Soft-touch dash and door panel materials exhibit sophisticated graining and appropriate matte finish, and standard cloth sport seats are included for front passengers. Controls and switches look good and, more important, feel good when used. Suzuki says it has also made extensive use of soundproofing to quell unwanted noise, without eradicating what enthusiasts consider music to the ears.

2010 Suzuki Kizashi

Hardware

When the 2010 Suzuki Kizashi arrives in dealer showrooms this winter, it will have a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine under the hood. Horsepower and torque figures are not finalized just yet, but Suzuki says it's "more potent than many competitive best-sellers." A 6-speed manual transmission is standard, and a continuously variable transmission with paddle shifters on the steering wheel is an option. Power is transferred to the front wheels or, as an option, all four wheels through an intelligent all-wheel-drive system that is activated using a button on the dashboard. Suzuki says up to 50 percent of the engine's power can be transferred to the rear wheels.

The Kizashi is equipped with 4-wheel-disc anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution, and Suzuki is quick to point out Akebono as the supplier-the same company that makes the brakes for Japan's bullet trains. A sport-tuned suspension is also standard, with high-performance shocks. Offered as an option are an 18-inch wheel-and-tire package, complete with performance rubber.

At the Kizashi's unveiling in California, a reporter asked whether Suzuki was considering other powerplant variants, such as a V-6 engine, and spokespeople replied that more news on that front would be forthcoming in the fall. The company does say, however, that it's working on a hybrid version for debut later in the model's run.

2010 Suzuki Kizashi

Safety

Suzuki is proud of the 2010 Kizashi's eight standard air bags: two in front, two side curtains for both rows of seats, and side-impact air bags for each outboard occupant. The company also notes that the Kizashi meets federal pole safety standards for 2014, and that its new midsize sports sedan is equipped with a standard stability control system to help avoid sliding into a pole in the first place. Additional safety-related features include available all-wheel drive, park-assist sensors, rearview camera and rain-sensing wipers. Plus, the rear headrests can be folded forward for an improved view out of the backlight.

Technology

Details on the 2010 Suzuki Kizashi's available technology remain light as this is written. We know there's a standard dual-zone climate control system and keyless push-button starting, that an available Garmin-powered navigation system is on the options list, and that the available reversing camera is likely to display what's behind the Kizashi on the navigation screen. Streaming audio, Bluetooth and iPod compatibility are confirmed, and audiophiles will be able to order a 425-watt Rockford Fosgate sound system. Other details will be available closer to the Kizashi's arrival in showrooms.