By on February 9, 2011

Maybe it was my lukewarm review. Or maybe it was because Suzuki’s most ardent attempt to date to appeal to Americans connected with only 6,138 of them last year. Despite the unintended acceleration media circus, Toyota sold more Camrys in the average week. Whatever the reason, Suzuki revised the Kizashi after just one model year, transforming the two top trim levels into “Sport” models. Substitute a six-speed manual and front-wheel-drive for the previous test’s CVT and all-wheel-drive, and the 2011 Kizashi certainly deserves another look.

The Kizashi’s sheetmetal hasn’t changed, so the exterior styling remains much less distinctive than the car’s name suggests it ought to be. That said, the “Sport” tweaks—a tasteful body kit, thinner-spoked wheels—highlight the car’s tight, athletic proportions and make its exterior almost memorable. I remain thankful that the then-new corporate front end introduced with the 2007 XL7 went no further than that SUV. Still, something about this car should mark it as a Suzuki, aside from the oversized S on the grille.

For a car priced in the mid-20s, the Kizashi continues to have an exceedingly well-appointed interior. Luxuriously upholstered door panels, a woven headliner, switchgear that’s a cut or two above the mid-20s norm, compartment lids that open with a dampened glide, and thorough red backlighting all contribute to a look and feel suitable to a car costing at least $10,000 more. Once the benchmark, the latest Volkswagen sedan interiors aren’t even close. The “Sport” revisions include a mildly restyled steering wheel and white stitching on the black leather seats. The latter serves to lighten up the almost overwhelmingly black interior. Would red stitching have been sportier, or at this point too much of a cliché?

Suzuki similarly aims to impress with the Kizashi’s features list, and generally succeeds. Especially nice to see at a $26,000 price: three-stage heated leather power front seats, memory for the driver’s seat, a 425-watt Rockford Fosgate sound system, keyless access and ignition, rain-sensing wipers, and rear air vents.

Even before this year’s “Sport” revisions, Suzuki pitched the Kizashi as a driver’s car. The firm-yet-comfortable front buckets fit the bill, with side bolsters that (for once) actually provide even better lateral support than their appearance suggests they will. Size-wise, the Kizashi falls between a compact and a midsize, but this didn’t dissuade Suzuki from fitting seats a little larger than most these days, further contributing to the car’s premium feel.

The not-quite-midsize dimensions translate to a rear seat that is just large enough for the average adult. Those six-feet and up will wish for a true midsize. Kids, on the other hand, will wish for a lower beltline. In the Kizashi they struggle to see out. The driver fares a bit better, though the cowl is a bit high, the A-pillars are on the thick side, and the wheel must to tilted up a notch to avoid obstructing the classic white-on-black instruments.

When paired with the six-speed manual transmission and front-wheel-drive, the Kizashi’s 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine kicks out another 5 horsepower, for a total of 185 at 6,500 rpm, and must motivate about 240 fewer pounds, for a total around 3,250. So with a manual transmission the Kizashi is significantly quicker, and feels it. There’s not much power below the 4,000 rpm torque peak (where 170 foot-pounds can be found), so downshifts are a must for brisk acceleration. But in this powertrain the four sounds and feels smoother, with a pleasant zing, so winding it out is a joy. Even though the manual shifter is easily the least refined part of the car, with a clunky, sometimes even balky action, it’s far more enjoyable than the paddle-shiftable CVT.

Still missing, though much less missed with the stick: a more powerful optional engine.

The EPA rates the manual for 20 MPG city and 29 highway, compared to 23/30 with the CVT. The trip computer was wildly optimistic, reporting high 20s and low 30s in the suburbs and 42.6 on one trip, averaging 55 miles-per-hour with a single complete stop. I used a little over half of the 16.6-gallon tank in 176 miles, so the EPA numbers are probably about right.

Last year I suggested that the Kizashi’s chassis needed another round of tuning. With the “Sport,” it got it. Though the changes aren’t dramatic, the revised car handles more sharply and precisely, if still not quite as intuitively as the best sport sedans. Feedback through the steering wheel is subtle, but it’s there. The steering in a Buick Regal turbo (driven while I had the Kizashi) feels light and numb in comparison. The occasional float noted at highway speeds last year is gone, and the “Sport” generally feels more tied down. Better damping than anything from Korea contributes to very good body control when the pavement diverges from level and smooth. With the possible exception of the first-generation Acura TSX, no Japanese sedan has felt more European. The more I drove the Kizashi Sport SLS, the more I liked it.

One mild reservation: the Dunlop SP Sport 7000s might be rated “all-season” tires, but their traction on snow is marginal. The stability control system doesn’t jump in too soon, and when it does operates unobtrusively. Turn it off and the Kizashi remains easy to control even on slick surfaces.

Even with the “Sport” tuning, the Kizashi’s ride remains quiet and polished. Though it can feel a little bumpy in casual driving on some roads, the motions are restrained and vertical rather than poorly controlled and head-tossing. Push the car more aggressively, and the tuning feels spot-on. Highly effective insulation often makes the car seem like it’s going 20 miles-per-hour slower than it actually is. Though this impacts driving enjoyment a bit, it’s a big plus on the highway.

With metallic paint, floormats, and satellite radio, the Kizashi Sport SLS lists for $26,049. (If you can do without heated leather seats and a few other features, you can save $1,800 with the Sport GTS.) The new Jetta GLI will cost about the same as the Sport SLS, but while it will be quicker it looks and feels like a much cheaper car. An Acura TSX is much closer in terms of size, materials, features, and performance—and lists for $4,421 more than the Suzuki. Adjust for remaining feature differences, and according to TrueDelta’s car price comparison tool the non-premium-branded car’s advantage actually increases, to over $5,000. Add in the Suzuki’s 7/100 powertrain warranty that, unlike Hyundai’s, is transferable, and the car is clearly a very good value.

“Kizashi” means “something great is coming.” With the “Sport” revisions, greatness might still not have arrived, but it’s certainly closer. The Suzuki’s exterior and interior dimensions resemble those of the B5 Volkswagen Passat and the first-generation Acura TSX, both of which appealed to people who wanted enough room for adults in the back seat without the bulk of a truly midsize sedan. The Kizashi’s features, materials, seats, ride, and overall refinement are all those of a much more expensive car, and not those of a compact sedan. The engine isn’t any more powerful this year, but (as is often the case) the manual transmission is worth about 50 horsepower in terms of driving enjoyment. The “Sport” tweaks subtly yet significantly upgrade the exterior appearance and the handling. Add it all up and, in Sport SLS trim with a manual transmission, the 2011 Kizashi is definitely worthy of consideration by enthusiasts searching for the attributes of a European sport sedan without a European price.

Suzuki provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

Michael Karesh operates TrueDelta, an online source of automotive pricing and reliability data.

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87 Comments on “Review: 2011 Suzuki Kizashi Sport...”


  • avatar
    ajla

    If you don’t like the new Jetta, buy this instead.

  • avatar
    beken

    A few days ago, I was following a car I thought to be the Kazashi until I got close enough to see it was the VW Jetta.   Are these cars built on the same basic platform?
     
     

    • 0 avatar

      Definitely not related to the Jetta. And it drives much more like the old Jetta than the new, less luxurious one. There was some talk that it’s based on GM’s Epsilon platform, but if so it’s very loosely based on Epsilon.
      Similarly, I had assumed that the 2.4 was based on GM’s Ecotec, but the bore and stroke are totally different. Even without direct injection it’s a little more powerful than the DI 2.4 in the Buick Regal, which is over half a foot longer and much heavier.

    • 0 avatar
      EEGeek

      Isn’t the Kizashi now a good bit smaller than the Jetta?
       
      Also, while I’m no fan of how VW has cheapened the Jetta, in fairness, when you wrote this we didn’t really know yet what the GLI interior will look like.  From what I’m reading today from the Chicago Auto Show, the GLI interior is much improved, and the top-of-the-line model with faux-leather and nav is in the 26K range, similar to Suzuki.

    • 0 avatar

      There’s more rear seat legroom in the Jetta, but the Kizashi is still an inch longer, a couple inches wider, and an inch taller. I drove the Jetta while I had the Kizashi, and the Jetta felt like a significantly smaller, less substantial car.
      So many parts seem cheap in the new Jetta interior that they’d have to change essentially everything inside the car to upgrade it to near the Kizashi. In the photos it looks like the same interior, just with a different steering wheel, different seats, and (real?) aluminum trim.

    • 0 avatar
      TimCrothers

      Karesh, The GLI gets a soft touch dash not the hard crap in the base models.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    I wish my nearest Suzuki dealer was closer than 124 miles away and I had more faith in their ability to remain in the US market.  Perhaps if they’re motorcycle dealerships also had the ability to service their cars?  (I know that’s a logistical nightmare but a man can dream. How did Isuzu handle warranties when they left the market?)
     
    I am very attracted to the Kizashi, and it seems like it hits the perfect mark for me, but again those issues mentioned above would make me hesitate.  Right size, right price, up-level interior, quiet on the hwy, athletic responses, and it would be years before I would have to worry about how a long legged teen would fit back there.  (Perfect for Dad’s commuter car, mom can drive the big CUV/minivan/wagon of her choice.)  How has the reliability been Michael?

    • 0 avatar

      TrueDelta.com only has an initial result based on a small sample size today, but will have an updated result based on more data later this month. It’s not looking like the stat is going to change much with the update.

      Reliability so far is about average, but not far from “worse than average.” Repair trips per 100 cars per year in the low 70s.

      Looking at the reported repairs, a couple of problems seem common. The amplifier has had to be replaced in a few cars, and some trim around the passenger seat in a couple of others. A couple of owners have also reported driveability issues, but not repairs, for the CVT.

      Based on this, the stats will improve once the amplifier replacements fall out of the one-year window as long as no other common problem pops up.

      http://www.truedelta.com/repair_histories.php?stage=pt&bd=Suzuki&mc=967&my=2010

  • avatar
    Steinweg

    I actually like the styling, it’s chunky without being bulky or blockish. I’m glad to hear the materials are of such good quality and I must get over and try out these seats. But I wish they had done something a little more driver-focused and asymmetrical with the dash. That symmetrical look of a Panasonic stereo from 10 years ago, with the pointless shiny trim, is not for me.

    • 0 avatar

      But those controls are very well laid out and (except for the Bluetooth) easy to use. Big knobs for the major functions.
      Even the shiny trim doesn’t seem off to me. There’s not much of it, and at least the trim face of the center stack and console aren’t silver.

    • 0 avatar
      Jonah S.

      The driver layout in my 2006 TSX is suspiciously similar to the Kizashi – storage, materials, trim and all.  Even the swoopy look is Acura-like.  Makes me think Suzuki is rehashing some things here.  To its credit, the Kizashi appears a bit larger and their are more (yah!) knobs to turn on that dash.  The knobs may even have that high-end feel missing from cars these days.

  • avatar
    Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

    It’s a shame the Suzuki motorcycle performance image doesn’t apply to their cars..  Why don’t they have a car equivalent of the Gixxer or ‘Busa?

  • avatar
    doug-g

    I made a statement on some other car blog that America was a lesser place with the demise of AMC and Rambler.  Ramblers were “the” cars for the different folks out there.  Neighbors you never saw and elderly aunts living in the valley with 73 cats were folks who bought Ramblers.  All you had to do was say, “they drive a Rambler” and everyone knew what you meant.  I urge Suzuki to nuture this market and become the Rambler of the future.  Hey, AMC sold 200K-300K a year – a joke back when about all the US had was the “Big 3″ but, pretty decent numbers by today’s standards.

  • avatar
    MikeAR

    Good looking bland car, with nice features but overpriced. I had thought that this was around $20k not $26k. It’s a decent car but there is no compelling reason to buy one. Too bad because it deserves better.

  • avatar
    SunnyvaleCA

    “averaging 55 miles-per-hour with a single complete stop. I used a little over half of the 16.6-gallon tank in 176 miles”

    176 / (16.6 * 55%) = 19.3 MPG.  Given your average speed, rarity of stops, and speed limits in the USA, I would have expected you to hit or exceed highway EPA numbers, not undershoot city numbers.

    I like your reviews, though, so please keep ‘em coming!

    • 0 avatar

      If the fuel gauge is like most, it probably hits E with a couple gallons still in the tank.
      The 42.6 MPG was only for one 5-6 mile segment where I averaged 55 MPH and had just one complete stop. I didn’t average 55 for the entire 176 miles, probably more like 30, with many stops and some full-throttle curve-filled driving to test the car’s capabilities. The last usually yields 9-10 MPG in cars of this class, and even the 29/40 Elantra only managed 12.5.

  • avatar
    godflesh

    Why this over a Sonata?

  • avatar
    rpol35

    Rented one and drove it 1,700 miles in five days. I found it to be very consistent and well suited to all different types of driving scenarios and terrains. Only two issues, the CVT is miserable, it’s like my lawn tractor but sloppier and there’s no telling how viable Suzuki will be (as an auto builder) in the near or long term.

    There are probably not enough compelling reasons to purchase this car over its more entrenched competitors in an overly saturated market segment.

  • avatar

    I hate the Suzuki S. It is like dissonant musical notes, or maybe even fingernails on the blackboard. And, no, nobody is going to mistake that thing for an S-car-go, not with that ugly grill. Fix those two things, and it wouild be decent looking, passable by the standards of today, but no, nothing could make it win a beauty contest.

  • avatar
    akitadog

    Suzuki needs to introduce a true Cooper S/GTI fighter STAT with its Swift! This really is the best way it’s going to get noticed in the US market, or it’s going to slowly fade away and be back to offering bikes only.

  • avatar
    JMII

    Suzuki still sells cars in the US? I thought they gave up years ago. I have not seen a new ‘zuki is a long time, and I honestly don’t know anyone that owns one. Given the fact the US version of Top Gear uses a Suzuki for there “Big Star / Little Car” bit and constantly rips it as a POS means the brand is not moving to the top on anyone must have list. Sorry but $26K for this? Versus a TSX or a VW Passat? No freakin’ way. Sorry but Hyundai has established itself with more brand power then Suzuki.

    • 0 avatar

      The TSX is way more expensive, and this Suzuki will actually run on days ending in the letter Y, unlike a VW.
       
      Also, the SX4 is a great little car, so Top Gear is either being stuck up or just idiots. You see quite a few SX4s around here, actually. They’re slowly eating some of the sales of much more expensive Subarus.

    • 0 avatar
      JustPassinThru

      Yeah – Suzuki seemed to lose it after their Swift and Metro clone were phased out.
       
      It’s too bad, really – I had (really!) three different Metros; and the early 1990s generation were truly driver’s cars.  They fit me, and I’m six-two; and they handled extremely well, given that they were cheap econoboxes.  Gas mileage:  high forties.  I liked the uniqueness of the three-cylinder mill, also – and if I could, I’d buy another in a heartbeat.
       
      Alas and alack.  They didn’t hold up well; all it took was one sticking EGR valve or a popped timing belt to destroy the engine.  Probably this lack of durability, and the tendency of the underbody to rust out, unbeknown to the owner, was what doomed it.
       
      With the current safety standards, the micro-mini econobox as a type was dead; and all Suzuki had left for an identity was the Sidekick and some leftover Samurais.  There doesn’t seem much to make this one stand out, and Suzuki’s reliability is suspect.

    • 0 avatar

      This seems like a competent car. And my neighbours seem to like their SX4 and GV well enough. The problem for me was to remember that Suzuki existed when I was on the market.

    • 0 avatar
      Albino Digits

      I strongly considered this car, but the possibility of a huge loss in resale kept me away. I got a CPO 2008 Acura TSX manual instead. It should hold it’s value longer, be more reliable, and it was cheaper than a new Kizashi. Another car I looked at was a used Pontiac G8 GT. My final decision between the three was probably the most prudent; however, was it the best?

  • avatar
    motownr

    As an employee for a firm that had a Suzuki franchise, I’d be extremely wary of Suzuki.
    There are legitimate questions as to whether or not the company retains sufficient resources, scale, or commitment to remain in the US market.
    The banks are wise to this risk, and you see it in how difficult it is to finance a Suzuki on competitive terms.
    Off daily rental, these probably are a steal like old Daewoos used to be.  The real risk is whether or not you could source parts.

    • 0 avatar

      They have the resources as a company. Sufficient commitment–that’s clearly lacking. When they launched the Kizashi I remarked that, if they wanted to succeed in the U.S. market, they needed to invest a lot more money in marketing and distribution. As is, they’re running a third-rate operation in the U.S., at best.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      I’d never buy one; they’re not going to be around the US market much longer.  Their linkage with GM products has not helped them – just look at Saab’s situation.
       
      The Kizashi’s market space is saturated with good/great cars with more compelling reasons to buy them.  Even the 7/100 transferrable warranty becomes a pain if they leave the US.  I think Daewoo is a very good illustration of the path Suzuki is on in the US.

  • avatar
    twotone

    I’d consider it if it was available in (rear-biased) AWD and manual transmission.

    • 0 avatar

      As you imply, the manual is only available with front-wheel-drive. And when I had the all-wheel-drive car last year I found that the system adds little if anything to the handling. Unlike most car AWD systems you can lock this one in 2WD, so it’s actually 4WD. This enables clear comparisons.

  • avatar
    aspade

    This car says more to me about the competition than it does about itself.   If even Suzwhoki can build a genuinely nice small car then why can’t GM?

  • avatar
    scottcom36

    Maybe a better name would help. Kizashi does nothing for me.

  • avatar
    philipbarrett

    Less performance than the MazdaSpeed3 for a whole lot more $?  Less performance than a WRX (which retains it’s AWD) for the same $?
     
    Am I missing something?

  • avatar
    FromaBuick6

    Sorry.  It doesn’t matter how good most reviewers seem to think this car is.  It’s a bad buy.  I’d be very surprised if Suzuki lasts much longer in this country…good luck servicing or selling it.  Plus, it’s nothing special to look at, it’s not a great bargain, and no one should touch a CVT-equipped car with a ten foot pole.

    • 0 avatar

      Got a fix for the last: the manual transmission.

    • 0 avatar

      I drive a Ford Escape Hybrid with the CVT, and have yet to have a single issue with it after 150k.  I feared the worst when I first got it as a work truck, but have yet to have any complaints. 

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      Most CVTs now have been pretty reliable. It’s only GM’s CVT in the the original Saturn Vue that has had issues. My Audi tech friend has even said that in his experience, the Audi CVT seems to be more reliable than the equivalent auto. A CVT shouldn’t be something to be afraid of. It is mechanically simpler, and as long as the steel belt is made well, it looks like they hold up.

    • 0 avatar

      The CVT in the Escape and other Toyota-like hybrids is a totally different design than a non-hybrid CVT, and actually isn’t that different from a conventional automatic transmission in that it’s primarily a planetary gearset. So there’s no reason to expect the tranmission in the Escape Hybrid to be any less reliable than a conventional automatic. Actually, it should be more reliable, since it includes only one planetary gearset compared to the three or four planetary gearsets in current automatics.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      It is true that CVTs aren’t inherently bad any more than automatics are.  Nissan, for years, has made very reliable ones.  Ford’s Freestyle had one that wasn’t too bad, either—it suffered for dealer incompetence more than anything else.  Audi’s has been pretty good, too.
       
      Now, Honda and General Motors, on the other hand, have real problems making a reliable CVT, but Honda had trouble with traditional ATs as well, and GM has a history of rushing and/or half-baking “different” technologies.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      CVTs on the first gen new Mini were notoriously failure prone.  They went to a 6-speed AT on the second gen.

  • avatar
    mtymsi

    Too bad this car is a Suzuki as otherwise I might consider it. Closest dealer is miles away (in a large metro area). I don’t expect Suzuki to last much longer as a U.S. car brand. The car itself I like, both the styling and the positive review.
     
    A little hard to understand how Suzuki does so well with motorcycles but has done so poorly with cars in the U.S. market. As others have said, I’d be afraid to buy one and then Suzuki pulls out of the U.S. market. Not to mention the lack of dealership close to my home.

    • 0 avatar
      FromaBuick6

      I wouldn’t say they’re doing well with motorcycles right now, either.  Suzuki skipped the ’10 model year in the U.S. altogether, because they had so many left over ’09 bikes.

  • avatar
    MBella

    I think this will be a great used buy in a few years.

    • 0 avatar
      mtymsi

      Only if Suzuki is still selling cars in the U.S. market otherwise what do you do for parts?

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Find an online support group like various “die hards” of other dead brands.  Learn to wrench it yourself and wake up the next morning to find your “man card” is just a little thicker than before.  :P 

    • 0 avatar
      YYYYguy

      I’d imagine there will be a number of manufacturers making most of the aftermarket common parts for Suzuki vehicles for years to come.  If not, I’d imagine that Suzuki of Japan would likely develop some way of supporting the product.  I believe Isuzu supported/supports their product even after the pull out, I could be incorrect though.

      @MBella – I agree.  Probably a good used buy.  These things depreciate like a rock but are built quite well. 

      TTAC needs to run a series on the viability of Suzuki given their numbers.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      Buy parts at your local auto parts vendor or an online site like Rock Auto. I’m sure you don’t buy many parts from your cars dealer.
       
      If Suzuki decides to pull the plug on it’s US dealer network, I will likely be the first inline to buy on of these at blow out special prices. I know that Daewoo was almost giving cars away when they pulled the plug, and with a decent product to purchase, it would be a steal.

    • 0 avatar
      mtymsi

      I was referring to Suzuki specific parts that can only be purchased from Suzuki. For instance, were you in an accident where do you get replacement parts? With the very low numbers this vehicle sells I highly doubt there would be much if anything available in generic after market replacement parts.

  • avatar
    geeman77

    How is the manual driving experience? I have driven a number of different new cars with”pure” manuals, and found varying degrees of ” rev-hang “. When you push in the clutch to shift up, the revs “hang” for a second or two before dropping. Irritating, and not conducive to ultra smooth shifting. My winter beater is a 93 Acura Integra (one of the last of the really good Hondas, I fear…), and the throttle is ultra responsive, blipping up on downshifts, and falling like a rock on upshifts… almost too fast! And Suzuki really needs to update the dealer network… the one in my city is a  bad joke.

    • 0 avatar

      I noticed no problem with rev hang. Smooth upshifts are easy, but the car stalls very easily. So probably a moderately light flywheel.
      The main problem with shifting is that the shifter is a little clunky, and I sometimes had trouble downshifting into third. The shifter in a TSX is much tighter and more precise. But I could live with the one in the Kizashi, which can’t be said for all shifters.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Michael,
     
    Did the suspension tweaks to this car make it into the other Kizashi models, or are they unique to the Sport?

  • avatar
    JKC

    My neck of the woods has a pretty significant population of SX4’s around. The AWD is popular for our winters, and it doesn’t hurt that there are two Suzuki dealers in the area. I haven’t seen as many Kizashis around, but they’re out there.
    If Suzuki can expand their dealer network a bit, they might just be able to make a go of it.

  • avatar
    roar1

    So here is what I know, we delivered over 30 new Suzuki’s in Jan and the customers love them.  Things to know about Suzuki:
    1. 9th largest automaker in the world in 2010
    2. Been profitable every year for the last 40 years.
    3. One of the best backed car on the road because the warranty transfers.
    4. Made major mistakes hooking up with GM over the years.
    5. Today only sells vehicles they make.
    6. They have a hard time supplying vehicles to the world, not enough plant capacity.
    7. They are concentrating on the major markets in the U.S. not every market.
    8. The products they offer are outstanding and the Kizashi is a great car in the catagory.

    roar

  • avatar
    genuineleather

    I came up behind a Kizashi on the freeway the other day and thought the rear end was well-executed and suitably unique; what other midsize-ish sedan has an integrated ducktail spoiler?

    Too bad the front end is droopy and generic (reminds me of the pre-facelift VW Eos and Tiguan).

  • avatar
    bsc

    Michael,
    For the same amount of money, would you get a Kizashi or a 2012 Focus titanium?

  • avatar

    ZZZZZZ…..

  • avatar
    william442

    Michael: Could you please leave the snow out of your reviews? Pictures of snow, yours is the second today, depress me, as do salt covered cars. Come to Florida.

  • avatar
    dougjp

    ” The new Jetta GLI will cost about the same as the Sport SLS, but while it will be quicker it looks and feels like a much cheaper car “.
    Michael, is your GLI review next up? Is there an embargo on releasing it? I wasn’t aware it has already been test driven, much less sat in. I understand that while in the exterior looks department its easy to make that judgment, however from the standpoint of the interior materials and the suspension, you would have had to drive it before reaching this conclusion. That’s because I read the GLI has a different suspension than the cheapo version, and perhaps different interior materials too?
     

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve only seen photos of the GLI. Looking at them next to those I took of the regular Jetta, the interior appears almost entirely the same, including the bargain basement door panels. My guess is that they substituted a few soft-touch parts to appease critics, but they’d have to replace nearly everything inside the car to upgrade it to the Kizashi’s level.
      Similarly, with the exterior, they aren’t changing the sheetmetal or the headlights, which appear downscale to me. You can’t just add different wheels and fascias and expect the resulting car to look all that different
      As for the rear suspension, I actually thought the regular Jetta rode and handled well. So IRS isn’t going to improve the luxury feel of the car. What they’d have to do is make the sort of tweaks that make a luxury car feel like a luxury car. I don’t see this happening.
      Not that a GLI necessarily should feel like a luxury car. It will probably be more fun to drive if it doesn’t. Luxury and fun-to-drive tend to be in conflict.

  • avatar
    kizashi1

    there is nothing wrong with suzuki or the kizashi name some people just be typing bull just for the hell of it and azz kissing of namebrand but a open minded person can see this car is better than a lot of the so called name brands..people just love to follow….suzuki kizashi is a great car i luv mine no buyers remorse …the way some people talk on here you would think they are experts but its just a lot of hear say and speculation…i bought 2010 last may not even 1 issue also did very well in recent nyc snow

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    I wonder if it has a better ride than the slam bang overly stiff suspension of the SX4? My friend bought a 2009 SX4 and got rid of it in less than 4 months. We took a trip in it and only on glass smooth roads was it tolerable. On city roads it litteraly banged over every little disturbance in the road and drove us crazy. The tires were inflated to manufacturer levels.

  • avatar
    Formerlythegreatestdriver

    Personally, I think the Kizashi has to be one of the most under-rated (and unknown) cars out there. And couple this with the lack of the dealership network, it’s sad that such a good car (and yes, I mean it) is not doing great in terms of sales. Trust me, if I was in the market for a 4 door sedan priced in the mid-20s, I would have easily chosen this. Even if the closest dealer was 50-100 miles away. Yes, it’s that good and that impressive. I know of only one person who has bought one, I haven’t heard nothing but impressed comments from everyone who has seen/ sat in it. And they can’t believe that it’s actually a Suzuki!
    But, I’ve decided to forgo any car purchases for the next 2yrs or so, stick with my ’03SVT Focus and my ’06 ‘Stang.
     
    p.s: Do you live around the West Bloomfield/ Clarkston area or something? I can recognize a lot of locales from the pics ;P

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    For how many years have people been predicting Suzuki will pull out of the North American car market?

    We have an ’06 Grand Vitara, which we plan to keep a long time.  Even if Suzuki pulls out, there will always be a supply of parts from the wreckers.  And in terms of an accident, if the parts are too costly to obtain, whether from wreckers or from Japan, then the car gets written off and I get the payout.  No problem.

    There are all sorts of rare/orphan cars around.  Why is this only a problem when Suzuki is in question?  In addition, the GV rarely needs parts to begin with.  At 5 years old, our GV has yet to burn out any light bulb and has the original battery.  It has had 2-3 recall/tsb’s for minor issues (transmission software, idler tensioner pulley, driver’s seat rail bolts), and, and …. I can’t think of any other parts that have needed replacement. Oh, there was a corroding alloy rim replaced and defective leather seat material fixed under warranty. Not bad for a completely new model year.

    As for the Kizashi, I wish they could have done as distinctive and pleasing a styling job as the SX4 and Grand Vitara got.

    I agree with criticism of Suzuki’s North American marketing and dealerships. There are some excellent dealers, but too many unfortunate ones.

    I don’t know if Suzuki is being “absorbed” into VW.  They only sold a 20% share to VW.  Didn’t GM hold that large a proportion only a few years ago? Here’s a quote from a Reuters article:
    “CEO Suzuki repeated that he did not intend the company he has led for three decades to come under VW’s control.

    “I don’t want you to misunderstand: Suzuki is not becoming a 12th brand for Volkswagen,” Suzuki said when asked whether the company might get a German CEO in the future. “I don’t want other folks telling me how to do things.”

  • avatar
    kizashi1

    suzuki aint going nowhere….its just a lot of stupid speculations…and any car company cant just leave its customers hi and dry provisions will to be made for existing car owners and for suzuki this most likely be vw..also remember suzuki is very sucessful around the world parts will be made again suzuki aint going no where…even isuzu parts can still be had and when isuzu folded they made provisions for other dealers to honor there warranties remember they didnt go out of business just stop selling in the us..,,stop the nonsense…and to brandloyalty i hear you but i think kizashi styling interior and exterior is way better than sx4 and gv

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      But bear in mind that the GV and SX4 were styled years before the Kizashi.  Relative to their time of introduction, I think they were more distinctive than the Kizashi was relative to the Kizashi’s launch year.  More of the flavor of the concept Kizashi should have been retained.  To me, it looks like some Jetta or Passat with a Suzuki badge.  Do you have one?

  • avatar
    kizashi1

    yes kizashi styling is jacked from the jetta however i think they were more sucessful in the looks of the car it just looks bigger and stronger than a jetta and honestly the concept car looked nice it wasnt for me…not really into the flash looks but i hear ya and yes im a proud owner very happy with my purchase…everytime i look outside at my kizashi i thinks it looks better im no enthusiast or wanna be but it drives great gets me too work even with the cvt

  • avatar
    PFels

    I bought a left over 2010 Kizashi GTS a few days ago and love it. Comfortable and great road feel and handling. I am guessing Suzuki was working on improving the car throughout the year, as I don’t have any of problems mentioned in earlier reviews. They used 4 motor mounts isolated from the chassis, no vibration and the engine purrs at idle. They reprogramed the firmware for the CVT, it pulls as well as my 2006 Mustang V6, and handles and rides much better.
    There is no electronic limit on the top speed, so I am confident I could show my tail lights to a LOT of more expensive cars, given enough highway.
    Nothing else I know of in this price range has half the features of the Kizashi. I’m not worried about parts even if Suzuki pulls out of the US market, they make and sell more cars in Japan than anyone else and are very profitable.
    The only thing I don’t like is the name. Otherwise, there was nothing in my price range that came close to matching the Kisashi.
    Paul
     
     
     

    • 0 avatar
      rpmnow

      Exactly what I found (I just bought one too). I always research a lot before buying and then actually test drive. This Subaru sedan is, in my mind, the best value on the market for 2012. I love it more everytime I drive it.

  • avatar
    Nick

    Seems decent enough, and with sales like that sounds like there’s lots of room for haggling.

  • avatar
    coro71

    I’m currently looking at this car, last sat. I test-drove the SLS model with the CVT transmission, which I found very very sluggish. I’m currently driving a mazda 3 2010 manual transmission… question, is it worth to change my car? how is the manual transmission? is it comparable to the mazda 3? Thanks

  • avatar
    rpmnow

    I just bought one after a test drive, even with an automatic, after discovering it has more than adequate power for any normal driving conditions. I’m not sure what other bloggers are looking for if they’re not looking to race it somewhere. The comfort and amenities in the Kizashi are impressive – much greater than in any other car I investigated in this price range. Handling and responsiveness are great too. Interior is quite comfortable compared to, say, the Hyundai or Kea counterparts (who seem to be moving ahead of Toyota and Honda at the moment), with much better material quality. Unlike Subaru, in the Kizashi, I don’t have to be in AWD all the stinking time, when I don’t need it, and can therefore get gas mileage up into the range of the Sonata (34 hwy) when in FWD – best of both worlds. And where’s the AWD button / option at all in an Optima or Sonata?

    And with the 100K transferable power train warranty and the zero percent financing… This is definitely the best value I was able to find in a mid-sized sedan. I’m very happy with it and strongly recommend a test drive and comparison if anyone’s in the market for this class. Actually, this one seems to outclass the competition significantly in my opinion.

    As for nonsense speculation Suzuki leaving the country? – that’s all it is – wild speculation with nothing to back it up. They wouldn’t have introduced this model in 2010 for the American market if that was their intention. What’s more, the Suzuki brand in general was the best selling brand in Japan recently for 7 years running and has a massive market across the world. They’re far from going down the tubes anytime soon. As for number of dealerships, there are four in the Denver area including one just a couple miles away. I understand they’re a little more prolific on the East Coast.

    This car is number one in customer satisfaction according to JD power. I could go on and on, but people inclined to be nay-sayers should actually test drive the dang thing first rather than just going with Hyundai because they’re selling more cars at the moment. Who wants to be just part of the sheep herd anyway?

  • avatar
    SuzukiKizashiRocks1

    Hello,

    I just bought a 2012 kizashi Sport GTS AWD. I love this car. My brother, his fiancée, my mother, and my friends love the looks and the ride.

    Please look at one, you will love it.

  • avatar
    coro71

    Congratulations!! Mine is already 1 year old and still love it. I wish it had more hp, thats it.

  • avatar
    Drem

    I’ve owned my SLS AWD (CVT) with Nav for over a year now. I have no legitimate complaints. I don’t really understand anyone’s desire for more power. It has plenty. More power would just get you more speeding tickets and probably more accidents for driving like a tool. The car is sensible in every way.

  • avatar

    I know I’m a little late to this party, but I just traded my Veloster, for a 2012 Kizashi GTS AWD. I think I’m in love with my car. Sounds like an old tune by Queen. It tops my Veloster in every way possible, except mpg’s, and is a much more pleasing car to drive. I’m in Pittsburgh, and regretted trading my Suzuki SX4 for a Veloster after about 5 months, and a few inches of snow. I expect the Kizashi will be much better in the snow than the SX4 (which was very capable), but needed just a bit more power.


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