Suzuki Kizashi 2.4 Sport review

Luke Madden
16 Nov 2011
Verdict:

Suzuki tops its UK range with a new sports saloon, the 2.4-litre Kizashi. As fun to drive as its smaller cars?

Evo Rating: 
Price: 
c£23,000
For 
Looks, handling, standard equipment
Against 
CVT gearbox, wailing engine

What is it?
 
A new halo-model and 'a true driver’s car' from Suzuki, the Kizashi is already sold in America, India and Australia but now it’s coming to the UK for the first time. It's a sporty saloon that sits somewhere between the slightly smaller Skoda Octavia and larger Ford Mondeo with prices starting at just under £23,000.
 
Technical Highlights?
 
Suzuki sees the real selling point as the standard four-wheel-drive setup. The Kizashi is front-driven for most of the time but torque can be split 50/50 between the front and rear wheels if needed. Then there’s the one single engine option, which is a 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol – a development of the four-pot used in the Grand Vitara – but with an extra 20bhp resulting in a 177bhp total. Performance is modest, with the 0-62mph sprint taking 8.8sec while the top speed is 127mph.
 
What’s it like to drive?  
 
The Kizashi’s chief engineer may describe it as a 'true driver’s car' but in reality the driving experience is split right down the middle.
 
The handling is actually pretty good and you’ll find a sense of agility and levels of grip more familiar to Suzuki’s Swift Sport than an Octavia-rivalling saloon. The steering is nicely weighted but occasionally a little inconsistent and it could do with a bit more feel too.
 
But then there’s the engine-gearbox combo. Suzuki has chosen to only offer the Kizashi with a CVT ‘box and it’s not a great fit for the 2.4-litre engine. Floor the throttle and there’s a consistent high-pitched wail as you try to accelerate and it doesn’t let up until the deafening red-line at 6000rpm. The best thing to do is take control of its 'ratios' yourself using the steering-wheel mounted paddles. Having driven a snappy-shifting six-speed manual version earlier in the year we were a little disappointed not to see it available as an option; it would fit far better with the driver's car tag.
 
How does it compare?
 
Suzuki's press conference flashed up the £33,000 Audi A4 Quattro and £27,000 Subaru Legacy as potential all-wheel-drive rivals but there are definitely more fitting cars out there. If you’re looking for a petrol-powered car with a sporty side then the front-wheel-drive, 197bhp Skoda Octavia vRS is a far more convincing proposition. Prices start at £20,330, there's manual and automatic gearboxes and the choice of a saloon-like hatchback or a roomy estate. Both its performance and economy figures trump the Suzuki's and, being related to the VW Golf GTI, it's great fun to drive too.
 
Anything else I need to know?
 
Suzuki is planning on selling just 500 Kizashis in the UK but all come fully-equipped with everything from cruise control to heated leather seats. With that amount of kit and those striking looks for £23K, there might just be enough in this package to sell all of them.

Specifications

Engine In-line 4cyl, 2393cc
Max power 177bhp @ 6000rpm
Max torque 170lb ft @ 4000rpm
0-60 8.8sec (claimed 0-62)
Top speed 127mph
On sale January 2012

Read more about:

Experience the thrill of driving every month with evo magazine, devoted exclusively to the greatest performance cars in the world. If you're passionate about performance cars then evo is your ultimate monthly read.