Small cars have been Suzuki’s forté, but the new medium-sized Kizashi shows that the company is not just about dinky little runabouts and SUVs. Although it’s the first car of this size from Suzuki, you’d swear they have been doing this sort of thing for ages. Like its stablemates, the Kizashi is sporty in design – note the short overhangs and standard 18-inch alloy wheels with 235/45 ZR18 tyres – and dynamics. It exudes the marque’s characteristic quality feel, with a comprehensive range of comfort and convenience features as standard (dual-zone climate control and USB iPod connectivity, for instance).
Power unit is a 2,4-litre twin-cam four-cylinder that is based on the Grand Vitara’s engine. Suzuki says it has been comprehensively updated for its role in the new flagship: 131 kW at 6 500 r/min and 230 N.m at 4 000 r/min. Economy is 7,9 litres/100 km and a CO2 emissions measure of 183 g/km.
The standard transmission is a six-speed manual; however, our brief test drive with the Continuously Variable Transmission left us seriously impressed. In performance terms, we’d actually choose it over the manual – and there’s no economy or emissions penalty, either. Besides full auto operation (with Normal, Start, Acceleration and Downhill modes), the CVT offers manual shifting between six pre-set, virtual gears, using shift paddles behind the steering wheel. The CVT is slower to 100 km/h from standstill than the manual (8,8 seconds versus 7,8), though, and has a marginally lower top speed.
Competitive edge: Keep it quiet. Suzuki says its engineers also took aerodynamic efficiency to an entirely new level by attaching plastic cladding to the entire underfloor area, creating a smooth surface that both suppresses wind noise and improves fuel economy.
Price: R295 900 (manual) and R310 900 (CVT), including 6-year/90 000 km service plan and three-year roadside assistance package.