All-new Suzuki Kizashi saloon claims to be a drivers' car with four-wheel drive and sharp handling. But is it any good?
The Kizashi has its merits, particularly the sharp handling, stylish looks, four-wheel drive and extensive equipment list but there are plenty of other more rounded choices out there for buyers. With no diesel option and with the CVT gearbox, buyers might be better off with the larger Skoda Superb 2.0 TDI 4x4. If you're looking for petrol-powered driving thrills, a front-wheel drive Octavia vRS costs about the same price too.
It’s time to welcome an all-new Suzuki to the UK in the form of the Kizashi – a four-wheel drive Skoda Octavia-sized saloon. It’s already on sale in America, Australia and India but now Suzuki is introducing 500 to the UK as a halo-model for the brand, but is it a fitting one?
Due to the limited run of cars Suzuki is only offering the Kizashi in Sport trim with a 2.4-litre petrol engine and a CVT gearbox. That means lowered suspension, an aerodynamic bodykit and a 177bhp engine that emits 191g/km of CO2 and manages just 34mpg.
Those figures aren’t exactly company car friendly – which counts for a lot in this segment but the Kizashi does have its upsides. It actually handles extremely well with very little body roll and a suprising amount of grip. The ride is firm but not too uncomfortable and rewards the driver with a sense of agility that’s quite rare for a car this size.
But it really needs a better engine and gearbox to complete the package. When we drove this car earlier in the year, we thought the six-speed manual was a great match so this CVT gearbox is a real disappointment.
Refinement is good at low speeds but floor the throttle and as the revs rise the engine becomes deafeningly loud and refuses to change up until the red-line – even if you back off the throttle slightly. Using the paddles to change gear is better and allows the car to feel as quick as the 0-62mph time of 8.8 seconds suggests it is.
On the plus side the cabin is a nice place to be, with leather lining the steering wheel, gearstick, handbrake and door panels as well as the seats. Soft-touch plastics cover the doors and lower-part of the dash too. There are no optional extras either so everything in here is included in the sub-£23,000 asking price including the heated, electrically adjustable seats, cruise control and electric sunroof.
It’s big enough to carry adult passengers in the back seats too with plenty of knee-room, and there’s a spacious 461-litre boot too. The only problem is a slight lack of headroom for people over six-feet tall.
The Kizashi fills a niche and it does have enough going for it for Suzuki to sell 500 units. It’s also a great way for the brand to show they are capable of producing good cars other than SUVs and superminis, but in the future there needs to be frugal diesels and manual options.