Whats in a Name? The 2010 Suzuki Kizashi
by Jim Corbran
Although Suzuki might have thought itself clever in the naming of its new midsized sedan, careful examination of its English translation might have gotten the Japanese carmakers’ marketing people thinking a bit differently. “Kizashi” roughly translates to “something great is coming.” You’d think they’d have gone for something closer to “something great is here.” But I guess that’s why they’re in marketing and I’m sitting at a keyboard. What do I know?
The Kizashi (pronounced “Kee-Zah-Shee,” as Suzuki feels they need to remind us in every press release—which again makes me wonder about their marketing department. If potential buyers aren’t sure how to say your name, it’s a bad name, and Suzuki Kizashi doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue) isn’t entering a new market segment for Suzuki. A few years back they were selling a similarly sized, five-passenger sedan, the Verona, a rebadged Korean Daewoo. This time around, it’s an honest-to-goodness Suzuki, built in their own brand-new manufacturing facility in Sagara, Japan. That alone gives the Kizashi a leg up on the problem-prone Verona, as Suzuki’s quality reputation for their own cars is quite good. Add that to Suzuki’s excellent warranty (100,000-mile/seven-year powertrain limited warranty, fully transferable, with a zero-dollar deductible), and you’ve got a winning combination. The Daewoo-built Suzukis of the past, the Verona and the Forenza, may have helped spark that warranty offer, and probably helped sell some cars, but Suzuki’s own cars—the SX4 and Grand Vitara—carry the same warranty which for them is icing on the cake.
The Kizashi is a handsome car, especially compared to the Verona, but also compared to other cars in its class. Suzuki, in some of its press materials, cites the competition as: Nissan Altima, Honda Accord, Acura TSX, and VW Passat CC—some pretty heady company for sure. And looks-wise, I think it holds it own with all of them (although it’s definitely not ground-breaking, it’s certainly inoffensive). It’s also roomy, comfortable, and affordable. Prices for the front-wheel-drive Kizashi S, with a six-speed manual transmission, start at $18,999. The top-of-the-line all-wheel-drive SLS with a CVT (continuously variable) transmission lists for $26,749. Not bad at all. Especially for an all-wheel-drive sedan. And Suzuki is quite familiar with AWD, as it’s been selling the popular SX4 for a number of years to rave reviews. The AWD system on the Kizashi is Suzuki’s 3-Mode Intelligent All-Wheel Drive (i-AWDTM), which allows the driver to select via a dash-mounted switch how power is delivered to all four wheels depending on road conditions—from two-wheel-drive for maximum fuel efficiency, to all-wheel-drive for rainy days, to four-wheel-drive for maximum traction on ice and snow.
Equipment? All Kizashis come with a 2.4-liter DOHC inline four-cylinder engine, mated either to a six-speed manual (21/31 miles per gallon) or a CVT (23/31 miles per gallon — both mileage figures are for the base S model). The manual version is rated at 185 horsepower, while with the CVT the engine puts out slightly fewer horsepower at 180. Front dual advanced, front and rear side, and front and rear curtain airbags are an all Kizashis, as are four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, electronic stability program with traction control system, projector headlamps, SmartPass Push-button keyless ignition and entry, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, tilt/telescoping wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control with rear vents, and a 60/40 folding rear seat with pass-through. A seven-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system with USB port is standard on the S and SE models, while GTS and SLS models get a 425-watt, 10-speaker Rockford-Fosgate premium AM / FM / CD / MP3 playback system. The two top-line models also have 18-inch alloy wheels, one-touch power tilt and slide sunroof, fog lamps, and integrated Bluetooth with audio streaming and wireless mobile phone integration.
So, with the Kizashi, not only is Suzuki out to make us forget about the Verona, they also hope to make a splash in a market outside their usual comfort zone— quirky small sedans or SUVs. They are, after all, huge in Japan. And wouldn’t mind at all if they became huge here, too.blog comments powered by Disqus
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