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Motoring: Kizashi could have been better

Nauman Farooq | Interrobang | Sports | September 20th, 2010

Suzuki is one of those brands popular in Asia, but almost nonexistent in North America. Suzuki is hoping to change that with the introduction of their mid-size sedan, the Kizashi. The last time Suzuki had a mid-size sedan in the Canadian market, it was a rebadged Daewoo, and it was called the Verona.

The Verona was a decent car, but hardly anyone bought it. It is a rarer sight on our roads than a Lamborghini Gallardo. Suzuki is hoping that the Kizashi will do a lot better, but is it any good? From a styling point of view, it certainly is. Most cars in this segment look dull, but not the Kizashi. This is a very attractive car and plenty of people complimented the car while it was in my care. They were even more surprised when they looked inside.

The interior is not only spacious, but also well built. The quality of every surface is top notch and that was surprising for a car in this class. Then there are the seats, which look great and are very comfortable to sit on. If you travel long distances, you will like the Kizashi.

You will also like this car if option packages annoy you, because the Kizashi has none. All models sold in Canada have the same equipment (including the great Rockford Fosgate stereo), have the same engine and gearbox and have all-wheel drive. The only thing you get to pick is the colour.

The Kizashi is a one-flavour model and you will either like it or not. I'm not entirely convinced and here's why. My first issue is with its engine. It has a 2.4-litre, four-cylinder motor that produces 180 hp and 170 lb/ft of torque. On paper, the power output seems adequate, but in reality, this car feels severely underpowered and, thus, is not fun to drive. I also don't like its CVT automatic gearbox, which, when being pushed, sounds like a weed whacker. If you are after performance, this won't please you.

Handling is much better. Not only is the chassis and suspension set-up quite good for the twisty stuff, the steering feel is excellent, in typical Suzuki fashion. All-wheel drive (which is engaged by a dash-mounted switch) also helps in traction, especially in wet weather.

Ride comfort is adequate, although it does bang and crash over bumps more harshly than you would expect.

You will also have to pay more than you expect, the Kizashi in its one and only trim (which sadly does not include a navigation system) is yours for $29,995.

That is a lot of money for a car that is at best adequate — a Bminus, you could say.

Suzuki has high hopes for the Kizashi, and only time will tell if it will be a sales success. I like this car, but it could have been better.
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