LOS ANGELES -- Suzuki believes its new Kizashi can take on mid-sized sedan segment leaders. But instead of feeling like a spacious Toyota Camry or Honda Accord inside, the Kizashi seems more like a compact German sedan. Of course, that is not entirely a bad thing. Those German cars have lots of character.
The basics: While the Kizashi's dimensions are close to those of the Hyundai Sonata and Volkswagen Passat, the car's interior feels more like a tight-fitting VW Jetta. The car seems undersized compared with most other mid-sized Asian-brand cars.
There will be no V-6 engine available at launch, making it the only mid-sized car offering just a four-banger. But a snarly V-6 test mule was present at the press launch, which might mean a rolling change. Also, Suzuki is working on bringing out a hybrid gasoline-electric model that uses General Motors Co.'s technology in about 2011.
Suzuki calls the Kizashi a sport sedan, and its strut front and multilink rear suspensions have indeed been tuned for a more active ride. The brake supplier is Akebono, which also provides stopping power for Japan's bullet trains.
Notable features: All-wheel drive is available on all trim levels, at a premium of $1,250. A button on the instrument panel enables the driver to toggle between front drive and awd.
The continuously variable transmission has six preset "gears," or simulated shift points, for drivers desiring more control. The twin muffler pipes are integrated into the rear bumper, a high-class design cue.
Standard features include keyless ignition, eight airbags, 16-inch wheels, four-wheel disc brakes, foot-well lighting, nine-speaker audio system, steering wheel audio controls, dual-zone climate control with rear-seat vents, and split rear seats with pass-through.