February 25, 2011
Weeks go by between my stints in our long-term 2010 Suzuki Kizashi GTS, and every time I get back into this midsize sedan, I ask myself why don't I drive this car more often, because it's really quite good to drive.
But in spite of that, I just haven't grown attached to our Kizashi.
I really don't know quite why, either. I like the way the six-speed manual transmission swaps gears -- the shifter is slick between the gates, the clutch easy to manage. Heel-and-toe downshifting is satisfying.
The handling is good, especially considering this is an unassuming, front-wheel-drive commuter car. The suspension feels soft at first, but rises to the challenge if you want to take a corner, or two, or three, with some enthusiasm.
So I've come up with three possible explanations for why I'm not a Kizashi supporter:
1. The engine is very smooth, but devoid of personality. I like shifting a lot, so slow(ish) cars don't usually bother me, but there's nothing happening with this powerband. It feels flat and I have little interest in going to redline.
2. The steering doesn't have enough feedback. Effort levels are good, but the steering feels more distant and electric than I'd like.
3. There's quite a bit of road noise. Possibly this has increased as the 235/45R18 94V Dunlop SP Sport 7000 tires have aged. A noisy ride doesn't usually bother me that much (see Mazdaspeed 3), but maybe it bugs me more in the Kizashi.
So that's my list. And, no, I won't be driving the Suzuki this weekend.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 19,345
February 18, 2011
I'm a three-pedal guy. Yep, I prefer the additional involvement, work and skill that driving a true manual transmission car requires. For folks like me with 95 octane in their veins, it's just more fun keeping the engine on song on a deserted winding road and clicking off smooth, rev-matched downshifts all by using your own brain and limbs.
That said, dealing with the almost nightly, soul-crushing slog seen above is more than enough to challenge one's allegiance to a DIY tranny. Thankfully, the Kizashi is blessed with a light-effort, progressive clutch and a slick gearshift that make it ideal for urban warriors who still get a kick out of driving a stick.
John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 18, 895 miles
February 05, 2011
For nearly 20,000 miles under our oftentimes heavy feet, our Kizashi has been averaging 23.8 mpg. The EPA estimate for combined driving is 24 mpg, lending credibility to the agency's now more realistic mileage estimates. Yes, that's 3 mpg less than what a four-cylinder Accord with a manual transmission rates, but still not bad overall considering our Suzook spends plenty of time in notorious L.A. traffic.
My dad's in town visiting and escaping the blizzards back east, so tomorrow we're going to hit the road for a day trip up to Santa Barbara. Maybe we'll take a vineyard tour as my girlfriend and I did some time ago (as seen above). On tomorrow's relaxed cruise, I'm hoping to better the EPA's highway estimate of 29 mpg.
John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 18,304 miles
February 02, 2011
It's hard to find something bad to say about our Kizashi. I know some readers are skeptical of our Suzuki Lovefest, but the car is just good. Its four-cylinder winds out with a pleasant growl. Even when you push it, it doesn't really screech or buzz. The six-speed manual slices through its gates smoothly, and the clutch action is almost too light. I wouldn't mind more resistance, but certainly ain't complaining. Even the steering wheel and shift knob feel properly thick and purposeful.
The Kizashi's not trying to fool you with pretensions. It just has the right feel for a car with some surprisingly wide limits. I bet many of my colleagues would vote it the fleet's Most Underrated. But I did find this annoyance, none too minor, after being away from the car for awhile.
From my ideal seat position, my right knee knocks into and rests on the side of the center stack (sorry, the black trousers make for a monochromatic image). And that's not a pliable surface. That's hard, unforgiving plastic. This isn't unusual, as most drivers probably deal with this to some degree. But the Kizashi's center stack does seem to intrude into the driver's legroom more than other cars in the fleet, at least in the way that I position the seat.
After 15 minutes or so, I had to reach down, between my legs, ease the seat back...wait a minute, scratch that. I had to reach down, to the left-hand side of the driver's seat cushion, ease the seat back...(lacks a certain Diamond Dave lilt, I think).
Moving back frees up the knee, but also makes the clutch pedal more of a reach. Workable, just not ideal. And not a deal-breaker. If I owned Suzy, I'd slap a small patch of 3 or 4mm neoprene on the stack and sit upright, watching the bewildered traps of motorists in the rearview, mouthing the vowels: "Key-zah...huh?"
Dan Frio, Automotive Editor
January 27, 2011
Not too long ago, Mike Monticello wrote a post about the stylized tips on our Kizashi. His argument was that the stylized tips made you believe the car had more power than it actually does. While I see his point and agree with him, I like them because I dig the "in bumper" look.
This trend is not a new one. In fact I spied this feature on comrade Takahashi's sweet '57 T-Bird. Yes, the T-Bird has straight pipes through a metal bumper in contrast to the current versions which most are "poser" tips, like the Lexus IS-F.
What do you think? Are they "push up bras" as carguy622 hilariously equated them to, or are they something you really like? Or would you just prefer to see some nice pipes sticking out from under the bumper?
Scott Jacobs, Senior Photographer
January 14, 2011
I was noticing the Kizashi's 20-spoke wheels this morning and I realized that there aren't many company's producing wheels this elaborate. In fact, one in particular comes to mind...
Hmmm, where do you think Suzuki got that idea? Alpina has a history with this style of wheel which dates back to the 70s 3.0 CSL. And it's still using the 20-spoke design today on the B7. Sure, it's not identical, but it's hard to jam 20 spokes in there and have things look unlcuttered or unfamiliar.
Josh Jacquot, Senior editor
January 13, 2011
Last Thursday I got a call nobody wants to get. I had to head back home to say goodbye to an old friend of mine. Thankfully with the Detroit auto show in full swing, there wouldn't be a big demand on cars and I was given the keys to the Kizashi on Monday.
This car has been here for almost a year and I've never been behind the wheel. To boot, it's from an automaker I'd nearly forgotten about. I was coming into it with open eyes.
My eyes were open wide from shock from the very moment I drove north to San Francisco. I've been in a lot of other Suzuki products over the years. Obviously if I can't remember them all that well, it's not saying much for their cars. The Kizashi, however, is a wonderful little car.
It feels like a car that should cost more than it does. It has a refined road feel that is very composed and comfortable. It has nicely balanced steering that felt very progressive for turning input. On top of that, it has a perfectly adequate power plant. I say perfectly adequate because it's just enough power that you'd need to pass and accelerate, without having a lot to spare.
In the two days I had the Kizashi, I never got tired of driving it. It was fun to drive it during the long stretches of I-5, around the busy traffic of Market Street and navigating my way around the steep hills of North Beach. Overall it's wrapped in a stylish packaging that makes this car very attractive. It reminds me of a Mazda 3 in feel and function, but with much better looks.
I just feel as a Suzuki, it's going to be unjustly overlooked. It's like an open secret, which is sad for such a great car. Yeah the shrinking Suzuki network of dealers is a concern, but at this price point, the content you get with that price and just the kind of car it is to drive, I'm going to try to shed more light on the Kizashi.
Scott Jacobs, Senior Photographer @ 16,482 miles
January 04, 2011
It's usually not a good thing to overpromise and underdeliver. Whether in your work at the office, in the sports you play, or with hulking exhaust tips when you don't have the power to back them up.
The Suzuki Kizashi has just such a pair of large, stylized outlets, which might lead you to believe it's packing a feisty turbo-four, or at least a smooth V6.
Neither is true, but at least the Kizashi's 185-hp 2.4-liter four-cylinder provides decent enough oomph and the chassis semi-sporting handling to the point that you don't feel completely led astray. Plus, there's that jazzy-looking body and the Suzuk's great value for the money, $23,614 as-tested.
Look more closely and you'll see the Kizashi's tips aren't actually exhaust tips, but rather just outlets. Behind each outlet lies the true peashooter exhaust. Those big outlets are purely for show.
Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 15,369 miles
January 03, 2011
After 10 months living with our long-term 2010 Suzuki Kizashi I'm convinced it's one of the best cars nobody is paying attention to. In an attempt to solve this problem Suzuki has launched a new batch of TV commercials for the sedan.
What do you think? Are they clever or are they just trying too hard?
Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief
December 28, 2010
Today our long-term Suzuki Kizashi GTS broke 15,000 miles, which means its due for its second scheduled maintenance.
Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief
December 27, 2010
Back in the summer, our friends at Road and Track magazine set a record at the Bonneville Speed Weeks with a modified Suzuki Kizashi. With my friend Sam Matani behind the wheel the sedan set a new record in the Blown Gas Coupe class of over 204 mph putting my friend in the exclusive 200 mph club.
Just another reason why the Kizashi is the coolest car nobody seems to know about.
Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief @ 14,857 miles
December 16, 2010
I've had my first two drives in our 2010 Suzuki Kizashi and will merely echo all the things my astute fellow editors have said: It's perky, responsive and extremely fun to drive (I'm just reacquainting myself with manual transmissions, and I loved this one). I also appreciated the Kizashi's zen-like instrument array. I've pretty much had it with the nav/radio/DVD/DVR/HD/3D clutter. Let's just show the radio station and keep our eyes on the road.
But would I buy one, given the much-discussed dearth of dealer support for service? After reading the comments here, I assumed that there wasn't a Suzuki dealership west of the Mississippi. So I dropped my home zip code into Suzuki's online dealership finder and learned that there are two in Orange County, in cities not far from where I live. (And yes, I would go behind the dreaded Orange Curtain for auto buying and service. If the OC is good enough for John Wayne and the Real Housewives, it's good enough for me.)
Besides, I currently get my 2000 Acura TL serviced at a dealership that's eight (surface street) miles from home. If I were a Kizashi owner who needed service, I'd have to go 14 (freeway) miles. Should that be a deal breaker?
Put it this way: I wouldn't let six miles stand in the way if I was considering the Kizashi among other cars at the excitement/expense intersection Suzuki's marketeers have plotted. On the other hand, Suzuki ranks poorly in J.D. Powers' most recent service satisfaction survey. So I'd have to factor that into the equation. And give the car a few more drives.
Carroll Lachnit, Features Editor @14,724 miles
December 14, 2010
Suzuki's Kizashi continues to be criminally overlooked in the United States but at least it's getting some love Down Under. The car was recently named "Supreme Winner" in something called the 2010 New Zealand Auto Association Motoring Excellence Awards, competing against models by Subaru, Toyota and Volkswagen. The Kizashi also took the top prize in the competition's "Medium Car" category.
The judges gave the Suzy props for having "astonishing attention to detail both inside and out" and praised it for being "refined, quiet and comfortable." Couldn't have said it better myself.
Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor
October 26, 2010
I drove our long-term 2010 Suzuki Kizashi last night and was again amazed by how good certain aspects of this $23,614 car are. Take the electric-assist power steering. I don't know how much money Suzuki is making on each Kizashi it sells, but it's clear someone important (or likely, many someones) decided this car should have good steering and allocated whatever amount of money was necessary so that the engineers could tune it until it felt right.
And so the Kizashi has perhaps the best electric-assist steering of any front-wheel-drive midsize sedan sold in the United States. Effort levels are spot-on whether you're parking or exiting the freeway. The steering is precise, with each input yielding exactly the amount of actual turning you expect, and the medium-quick ratio feels right for the Kizashi's size, weight and moderately sporty personality.
There's even the suggestion of steering feel here -- it's not like a Lancer Evolution, but you have some idea of and connection to what's happening with the Kizashi's front end. It's a refreshing quality in a front-drive midsize sedan, and sadly, one you won't find in many other cars in this class. Forget the other cars with electric steering -- the Kizashi's steering is better than some of the competing hydraulic-assist rack-and-pinion setups.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 12,546 miles
P.S. Now it might appear I parked the car next to a red-painted curb, but this was not the case. This was a metered parking spot and the meter was fed.
October 05, 2010
It's no wonder that four-cylinder engines don't get any respect. Once you open the hood of the Suzuki Kizashi GTS, you find its 2.4-liter inline-4 hiding in a kind of plastic box. It looks like one of those cardboard containers in which you get your hamburger at the drive-thru, doesn't it?
And yet the inline four-cylinder engine has have taken over the world. And for good reason, because a four is all you'll ever need.
Sure, we romanticize the bigger engines, the inline-6s, the efficient V6s and the big V8s. Maybe this is because those intake runners look so sweet, even though what you see these days is usually a cover made from molded plastic instead of the runners themselves.
Yet the application of modern technology has given the lowly inline-4 a dose of magic that enables it to go head-to-head with more complex powerplants.
# Counter-rotating balancers cancel the inline-4's inherent vibration characteristics, making it possible to increase the four's displacement to 2.4 liters from about 2.0 liters without making the whole thing shake itself apart.
# Multi-valve combustion chambers increase specific output while variable valve timing and lift broaden the powerband.
# Assorted anti-friction measures in ring design and metal coatings improve efficiency.
# Turbochargers and superchargers increase power exponentially.
# Direct injection simultaneously improves fuel economy even as it cools the combustion chamber, making possible a taller compression ratio for more power.
# Active engine mounts quell vibration so effectively that it's difficult to detect engine vibration at all.
Not all of these technologies lie within the Suzuki J24B in the Kizashi, which churns out 185 hp at 6,500 rpm and 170 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm, but you can bet they soon will be. We've managed to make it through the era of the wimpy, fragile inline-4s that superseded the bulletproof 2.0-liter fours of the 1980s, and now the four-cylinder is thought to be worthy of serious engineering, since it holds the key to the future of fuel-efficiency. The good news is, the inline-4 can deliver the tractability and civility we prefer on a daily basis and yet also achieve the power output we crave.
Even if it does look like some kind of hamburger in a black box.
Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com @ 11,733 miles
September 29, 2010
Yesterday in the office a co-worker from a different department admitted that she hadn't driven a manual shift car in over 10 years, and asked what might be a good car to use in the re-learning process.
In open conversations like this, our staff isn't shy about throwing out personal opinions, and voices rang out from around corners and behind cube walls.
Last night when I got into the 6-speed Suzuki Kizashi, I was reminded how easy it is to drive, with its confident clutch and forgiving gearbox.
I remembered back 20 years ago, watching a stop light at the top of a slight hill change from green to red six times before I was able to get my 1984 Escort out of first gear. I still shudder at the memory of all those horns honking around me.
What's your story?
Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 11,457 miles
September 28, 2010
Yeah, it's kind of a lovefest around here for our longterm 2010 Suzuki Kizashi, and I, too, am a member of Camp Zook. Or Kizoo. Whatever.
Every time I drive it I come away impressed. It just does so many things right. Ride and handling coexist peacefully, all of the primary controls work with a silken touch, noise is never part of the equation, it feels substantial but not leaden. Refinement is really the car's trump card.
It looks great, too, although photos don't do it justice -- the Kizashi needs the third dimension for its styling to really makes its impression.
This is an attainable car that drives like one that's out of your price range.
What about you -- could you see a Zook in your driveway if you were in the market for a midsize sedan?
Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor
September 22, 2010