Kih-Za-Shee. Not Keeshasha, Kezhasee, or Kissahee. Definitely not Ke$ha either…eww. This is the 2010 Suzuki Kizashi SE All-Wheel Drive and it’s a good car with a weird name. The name does have a purpose beyond confusing old men and young women, as it roughly translates to “omen” or “warning” in English. The Kizashi is basically putting the rest of the automotive world on notice that they are building serious cars.
Can this Suzuki contend with the rest of the competition? Absolutely. Should you rush right out and buy one if you are in the market for an affordable sports sedan? Um, lets talk about that one for a minute.
As I said at the beginning, the Kizashi is a good car. It has great exterior style which seems to be influenced by other automakers without flat-out copying them. The interior is understated without feeling too cheap. Overall, this Suzuki has a great level of fit and finish for a vehicle which starts below $20,000.
My problem with the Kizashi lies with the powertrain. The only available engine is a 2.4L inline four-cylinder which produces 180 hp (185 hp when equipped with a manual transmission) and 170 lb-ft of torque. This sounds like it should be more than acceptable but the CVT is not up to the task. I have never liked driving CVT equipped cars, but the one in the Kizashi is truly awful. The car constantly seems like it is working harder than it should be to maintain highway speeds. The one saving grace for this transmission is that you can select “gears” if need be. This is a must when you want to pass on the highway. I really want to drive the manual-equipped car because I think it will work much better with the four-banger under the hood.
The transmission woes should have killed my enjoyment of the Kizashi, but I’m still enamored with the car. The steering is crisp and responsive. The interior is comfortable and the center stack has a clean, minimalist appeal. The USB port had no problem reading my old iPhone (which is now just sees iPod duty) and the seven-speaker audio system sounded surprisingly crisp for a vehicle at this price point.
If you can ignore that CVT (the manual is just as good in terms of fuel economy), the Suzuki Kizashi is a great entry-level sporty sedan. It has everything you would need in an affordable daily-driver, without being a soul-sucking econo-box. It looks good from all angles plus it gets about 30 mpg on the highway. If I were to purchase one however, the first place I would stop is the parts department. Suzuki often supplies bolt-on performance parts for some of their other vehicles and the results can be dramatic. I had the pleasure of driving a Suzuki SX4 a few years ago that was modified with all dealer-available parts, and I still think about that car to this day. It was some of the most fun I’ve had behind the wheel.
The Kizashi starts at $18,999 and the SE All-Wheel Drive version begins at $22,749. The Suzuki pictured here is well-equipped as is, so it just has optional floor mats and premium metallic paint to add to the bottom line of $23,739. Standard features include performance tuned suspension with KYB shock absorbers, a multi-link rear setup, dual-zone climate control, a USB port, and a 10-way power adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar support and memory settings.
Suzuki is quietly building good cars. Their SX4 is their sporty jack-of-all-trades, the Equator is a stylish compact truck, and the Grand Vitara is a mid-size SUV with real truck guts underneath. The Kizashi is now here and it has turned their volume up many notches. If they bring the Swift over, they are going to have a lineup which you should be looking at. These are good cars, built well, and with great warranties. If your inner-Hoon needs more speed (let’s be honest, of course it does) then Suzuki can help you out there as well.