Going into this with bipolar expectations (high because the press and automotive industry spoke so highly about it, and low because I have yet to drive a Suzuki that I thoroughly enjoyed), I arrived at Suzuki headquarters to pick up this 2012 Suzuki Kizashi Sport iAWD. The absolute first thing I noticed upon seeing the car is how sharp-looking this seemingly-ordinary midsize sedan is. Strictly speaking, it’s the best looking sedan in its class, followed by the sporty-looking new Camry in SE guise.
I had quite a few decisions to make this week. However, by far the most difficult one to make was whether or not to review the Kizashi from a the point-of-view of an informed automotive enthusiast, or as a midsize utilitarian commuter vehicle which is by far one of the most “boring” automotive classes to even speak of. I decided to do both.
The Kizashi is superbly equipped. This top-level “Sport iAWD” model came with leather-laden seats, an intelligent key system, a power tilt/slide sunroof, a most excellent Rockford Fosgate sound system, and best of all, all-wheel-drive. However, stickering at $32,995 with a Suzuki badge on the steering wheel, I personally felt as though all of these features should be taken for granted. All of this is especially considering that the Toyota Camry SE V6 and the Subaru Legacy 2.5i Limited cost less than the Kizashi!
Powered by a 2.4L DOHC inline 4-cylinder working hard to push out 185 horsepower at 6500 rpm; driven by a CVT transmission, the Kizashi is no racecar. We were able to propel the car (with iAWD off) to 100 km/h in a leisurely 7.4 seconds. It’s right on par with the other 4-cylinder Japanese midsizers, but the highest-trim level most definitely needs either a turbo or V6 option. The Kizashi was actually a surprisingly sharp handler, even with iAWD off. It was an absolute blast to careen through the corners as it seemed to enjoy every moment of it. The steering is light yet precise with just the right level of feedback.
With Suzuki in a position to have to move the majority of its vehicles upmarket in order to compete, I was monumentally excited to do a full test of this “game-changer”, and you know what? I came out with the car having exceeded my expectations. Then I looked at the price tag. $32,995 as-tested for this car is an absolute insult to the consumer. With the Toyota Camry SE V6 (including leather, sunroof, and the V6 engine) priced at $32,160, and the Subaru Legacy 2.5i Limited, identically equipped, at $32,895, who in their right mind would give the Suzuki a second glance? This probably explains why there were exactly 27 Kizashis sold in Canada in all of January 2012. However, something that could impact my opinion on the price competitiveness of the Kizashi is the fact that Suzuki dealers are currently offering tremendous rebates on the car nationwide.
Okay, so with that out in the open, and taking price out of the equation, what did I think of the car? Again, just to reiterate, I absolutely love the car. It’s infinitely more engaging to drive than a Camry, it comes with more standard features than the Mazda6 and Nissan Altima, and the iAWD is close to, if not on-par with Subaru’s.
Quick Takes from the Team:
The Kizashi blew away all my expectations. It is comfortable, the fit and finish is sublime and I still cannot believe how the tightly equipped the vehicle is. I may go as far as to say that it is almost a perfect commuter vehicle. I observed an average of 8.7L/100KM combined city and highway with air conditioning on, leaving me impressed. Unfortunately the car does suffer from some wheel throw after going over some bumps, second-gear in the CVT does bog on acceleration, and I do wish it had a turbocharger. However short my time with the Kizashi was, I just couldn’t help but feel like I’ll miss my little friend. Verdict: Loved It.
The Kizashi handles beautifully. It’s the ideal car to drive in traffic; the seats are comfortable and the stereo sounds great. Steering response was absolutely mind-blowing. Also, it has the perfect amount of trunk space for my day-to-day commute. It certainly could use a LOT more power though; for $32,000 this car is ridiculously underpowered. Verdict: Needs more power; is the ideal commuter car otherwise.
As a passenger for the duration of time spent with the Kizashi, I was never uncomfortable. The ride was smooth and enjoyable. The audio system is by far the best I have heard in a stock vehicle and the integration with my friend’s iPhone is seamless. Unlike the Ford Sync system, I never once had to reset the phone due to issues playing audio, or taking phone calls via Bluetooth. It just works. The audio is clear, the bass is crisp and unlike most cars available, you are not tempted in the slightest to go with an aftermarket system. Verdict: I personally recommended it to a friend to buy