Something great is on the way
Suzuki Auto South Africa has upped the ante for medium-sized cars with the addition of an exciting newcomer to its passenger car line-up.
First unveiled in concept form at the 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show, the Kizashi has evolved into a desirable four-door sedan that represents an enviable combination of contemporary design, keen performance and involving driving dynamics.
While the Kizashi has already become a significant player in markets such as Australia, Japan and the US, it made its SA début in August this year.
Kizashi is Japanese for ‘something great is coming’ – an apt description of a car that breaks new ground for the Suzuki marque, both locally and globally. It also underlines Suzuki’s intention to expand its automotive horizons beyond the compact car segments it has contested so successfully over many years.
Development and design
From the outset, the development of the Kizashi medium sedan revolved around the five key elements representing the Suzuki ‘Way Of Life’: forthrightness, value, sportiness, spirit and excitement.
This ensured that the Kizashi, while breaking completely new ground, would retain its conceptual and emotional connection with the Suzuki brand and its core values.
As a result, the Kizashi development programme focussed on creating an emotionally appealing sedan for active people, while offering a dynamic driving experience.
Aesthetic design, thrilling performance and eco-friendliness were also considered key attributes in creating an emotional bond between the Kizashi and its target customers.
As the exterior design took shape, its elegance and athletic appeal reflected the engineering team’s resolve to combine a chassis tuned for involving road manners with smooth refinement. Engine development focussed on both performance and eco-friendly attributes.
That the production car exceeded the design and development team’s every expectation only serves to underline that Suzuki’s prowess extends well beyond its reputation as a small-car manufacturer.
The Kizashi truly delivers, especially in dynamic terms. Its appeal extends beyond the usual straight-line performance figures and delivers a driving experience that seamlessly fuses design, performance and dynamics.
The new sedan combines the best of European-style design with Japanese craftsmanship. Viewed from the front, the sedan is distinguished by a wide stance and a curved bonnet line that expresses athletic presence and forward motion.
The headlights emphasise the car’s width, while the front grille’s mesh design and dark finish looks both modern and aggressive.
In profile, the long 2 700 mm wheelbase, combined with a particularly compact overall length of just 4 650 mm, emphasises the Kizashi’s short overhangs and sporty profile.
Taut shoulder lines running from nose to tail underscore the car’s lean and muscular contours, again expressing both dynamic prowess and refinement. The standard 18-inch alloy wheels and 235/45 R18 low-profile tyres strike a further sporty note.
But there’s also a sense of quality, conveyed by details such as chrome-plated bezels on the indicators, piano black garnishes on the B-pillars, and glossy black beltline mouldings.
At the rear, the core visual elements include an integrated bootlid spoiler and twin exhaust tailpipes, both of which underscore the Kizashi’s athletic personality. Attention to detail is evidenced by the way the cylindrical theme of the tail light clusters matches the design of the headlights, while also creating a three-dimensional impression.
Inside, the cabin’s contemporary layout and smart finishes create an inviting, upmarket ambience. Key elements include an elegantly executed centre console, premium-grade controls and seats, and extensive tactile and visual refinement.
The interior cladding and finishes reflect the Kizashi’s premium status. The instrument panel combines symmetry and a sense of flow, emphasised by the matt metallic finishes and inverted L-shaped details.
The sporty three-spoke steering wheel is trimmed in leather and incorporates backlit switches to adjust the audio system, cruise control and the readout of the information display.
The main instrumentation consists of two cylindrical dials framing an information display. The display shows instant and average fuel consumption, fuel tank range and average speed. It also incorporates a low fuel warning and a battery replacement reminder for the remote key fob.
The audio system, including FM/AM radio, CD and MP3 playback functions, was custom-designed for the Kizashi, and features seven speakers and a subwoofer, as well as a USB port for iPod connection. Dual-zone climate control air conditioning is standard.
The Kizashi’s seats combine generous dimensions with exceptional support, and are electrically operated. The driver’s seat offers 10-way adjustment and a three-position memory, while the passenger seat has a four-way adjustment scope.
The front and rear windows are electrically adjustable, with a one-touch opening and closing action for the front windows, and an anti-pinch feature which prevents objects or fingers from being inadvertently caught in the window.
The Kizashi also delivers on the utility and practicality fronts. The boot has a generous 461-litre capacity, while the rear bench seat’s folding seatback is split 60:40.
A full array of storage spaces for smaller items includes an illuminated glove box, a double-layer compartment under the centre-console armrest, and an instrument-panel centre box that’s ideal for an iPod, as it also houses the USB port and power socket. There is also a convenient sunglasses holder.
Other standard feature highlights include auto-activating headlights and windscreen wipers, a sunroof, a photo-chromatic rear-view mirror, leather upholstery, self-levelling High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlights, and front and rear parking assistance.
The Kizashi is powered by a 2,4-litre in-line four-cylinder engine, designated J24B. While based on the Grand Vitara’s power unit, the twin-cam engine has been comprehensively updated for its role in the new flagship.
Those updates have resulted in excellent output figures. Maximum power comes to 131 kW at 6 500 r/min, coupled to a torque peak of 230 Nm at 4 000 r/min. The engine is also highly efficient, and achieves a combined-cycle fuel consumption figure of 7,9 litres/100 km. That translates into CO2 emissions ratings of 186 and 187 g/km for the manual transmission and CVT models respectively.
This combination of power and fuel efficiency is further emphasised by measures that include maximised intake-valve lift, a variable intake system and a plastic intake manifold that reduces intake air temperature increases.
Varying the effective length of the intake manifold optimises midrange torque delivery at lower engine speeds, while boosting power at high revs.
Measures to reduce noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) include extensive use of insulating materials and seals, as well as employing a balance shaft, acoustically tuned manifold passages and dual high-capacity exhaust silencers.
The standard transmission in Kizashi is a six-speed manual gearbox with a smooth, positive action and a short throw to enhance the sporty characteristics of the car.
A new, efficient Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) takes the place of a conventional automatic gearbox as an alternative to the manual transmission.
Proof of this innovative transmission’s efficiency is the fact that it achieves fuel consumption and CO2 emissions figures of 7,9 litres/100 km and 187 g/km respectively.
The performance figures of both models vindicate the Kizashi’s sporty disposition. The manual-gearbox version sprints from 0 to 100 km/h in 7,8 seconds, and reaches a top speed of 215 km/h.
The CVT-equipped model covers the 0-100 km/h acceleration test in 8,8 seconds, and has a top speed potential of 205 km/h. These figures confirm that the new Kizashi – regardless of transmission choice – is the fastest production model Suzuki has launched to date.
CVT in detail
The CVT constantly changes the relationship of engine to car speed, resulting in an infinite number of ‘ratios’. It is perfectly matched to the Kizashi engine, and varies engine speed as required to ensure optimum power and fuel efficiency.
Acceleration is quicker than that of a conventional automatic while also delivering superior fuel economy. A traditional gear shift lever allows drivers to engage fully automatic mode.
However, manual shifting between six pre-set, virtual gears is also possible, using shift paddles behind the steering wheel that makes changing gears even more intuitive and involving.
To maximise driving pleasure and economy, the CVT has several control modes which are automatically activated according to driving conditions.
These include a Normal mode, which keeps speeds at the optimal level for fuel efficiency; and a Start mode, which maintains lower gear ratios for strong off-the-line acceleration.
There’s also an Acceleration mode, which employs hundreds of shift maps to deliver linear acceleration; and a Downhill mode, which provides engine braking.
Chassis and suspension
An exceptionally rigid steel unibody is the starting point for the Kizashi’s superior handling and smooth ride.
The body’s high rigidity is achieved through the use of straight under-floor members, and comprehensively reinforced joints, while the pillars, and the engine and suspension mounts, have also been strengthened.
The front suspension employs McPherson struts with a cradle-type frame which contributes to a lower centre of gravity and improved dynamics.
Floating suspension mounts with bushes improve comfort and reduce noise, while a stabiliser joint on the strut assembly benefits vehicle stability. Extensive use of aluminium allowed further reductions in unsprung weight.
The rear suspension consists of a multi-link arrangement including an upper arm, lower arm, a control rod and a trailing arm.
The multi-link layout contributes to a lower centre of gravity and allows a lower floor panel position, improving vehicle dynamics and comfort. The suspension frame is mounted to the body using a bush to improve comfort and quietness.
Suzuki engineers also took aerodynamic efficiency to an entirely new level by attaching plastic cladding to the entire under-floor area, creating a smooth surface to suppress wind noise and further improve fuel economy.
Superb braking performance is supplied by the all-disc Akebono brakes, produced by the same company that supplies the braking system for the famous Shinkansen Bullet Train.
An extensive chassis and suspension development programme, conducted in diverse conditions over thousands of kilometres, included cold weather trials in Minnesota, and hot-weather evaluation in Death Valley.
In addition, the Kizashi’s handling was honed on challenging country roads in the United Kingdom and on the autobahn in Germany, as well as on the famous Nordschleife of the Nürburgring racing circuit.
The result is a true driver’s car that reflects the highest levels of handling prowess and ride refinement yet achieved by the Suzuki product development team.
The high levels of safety inherent in every Kizashi begin with a light, energy-absorbing body. Structures that absorb and disperse impact energy are combined with a deformation-resisting cabin in line with Suzuki’s proprietary Total Effective Control Technology concept.
That strong body shell is complemented by an array of active and passive safety technologies. These include:
• Three-point seatbelts with pre-tensioners and force limiters.
• An anti-lock braking system (ABS) with front and rear discs.
• Electronic brake force distribution (EBD).
• Electronic stability control (ESP) with traction control.
• Six airbags, including head protecting side curtain airbags.
Kizashi also incorporates high levels of safety for pedestrians, including a safety zone between the bonnet and the engine, allowing the bonnet to deform and absorb impact if a pedestrian comes into contact.
This works in combination with the low front bumper design, and deformable garnishes and windscreen wipers, to maximise pedestrian safety in case of an accident.
Suzuki Kizashi 2.4 SDLX Manual R295 900
Suzuki Kizashi 2.4 SDLX CVT R310 900
The recommended retail price includes VAT and the relevant CO2 emissions tax, and incorporates a three-year/100 000 km warranty, a six-year/90 000 km service plan, and a three-year roadside assistance package.
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