8 OCTOBER 2012
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On test with Ted Wilkinson of The Guild of Motoring Writers
Real Deal with Suzuki’s Biggest Model
Shopping around for a new car? Then you may well find that a larger car costs not much more than an average hatch back. Obviously this depends on the package and what looks affordable is soon dropped from the shopping list when a few options are considered.
Not so Suzuki’s 2.4-litre Kizashi saloon, which debuted on the UK market at the start of 2012 and has been on sale prior to that in the USA, it comes with pretty well every piece of executive kit (except satellite navigation) one can envisage and there are no factory options listed. Get lost easily, want navigation? Then the dealer will arrange.
So what you see is what you get at a price that I confidently suggest that disbelief, amazement and excitement could possibly be the reactions that this imposing looking car might generate.
Interestingly, this is Suzuki’s first venture outside of its familiar remit of producing some highly rated small hatch backs and the ever popular Vitara SUV but the product has all round substance, clearly proving that the Suzuki team have done their homework to a very high degree.
At this moment in time Suzuki has indicated that it is allocating only 500 examples to the UK market to test response though when pushed the PR man said that if needed an effort would be made to squeeze more out of the Japanese factory. Providing that the Kizashi message gets through to UK motorists then some midnight oil could be consumed back in Japan.
There is only one version, the 2.4-litre petrol injected 4-cylinder engine being a development of a Vitarra power unit while the gearbox is a CVT selectable automatic and the drive can be either all wheel drive or just to the front according to the driver’s requirements. The lack of a diesel-fuelled alternative obviously limits the Kizashi’s sales potential.
This is definitely no budget machine. Externally it gives the impression of an exclusive sporty saloon and internally the fascia, console and overall trim makes no sacrifices. It is a quality act.
Inside it appears to offer generous accommodation for up to five adults (with average luggage requirements) though front head room might be challenging for the very tall but driver comfort I rated very highly; electrically adjustable seating with heating, a fully adjustable steering wheel and comfortable pedal positioning.
Fascia presentation, instrumentation and other useful information are easy to see and the comprehensive switch-gear is clearly defined. Roof pillars are thin at the front, thick at the rear and the bonnet line drops abruptly which means driver vision is fairly good for a saloon body.
Thus the impression is of a premium grade product that one would expect to perform as such. Certainly the handling, ride and steering response get good marks, the power unit is immensely flexible with good power delivery though I suspect more sporty performance could be extracted if a quick shifting manual gearbox was employed. The CVT automatic unit makes for an easy life but has to be urged to produce anything close to lively acceleration. OK, the transmission is responsive but a tad slow off the starting block, livelier after about 40 mph.
Performance figures claimed by Suzuki give a top speed of 127 mph with acceleration from rest to 62 mph (100 kph) in 8.8 seconds. A carbon footprint of a Euro 5 compliant 191g/km qualifies for VED 1 rating of £250 a year while a combined MPG figure of 34 mpg is acceptable but nowadays not class leading for a car of this size/engine capacity. Oh for a diesel!
Anyway it is not always the fastest or the most frugal that wins all the sales and the overall product and package I suggest is sufficient to attract sales, particularly for those looking for a touch of exclusivity.
Those who have bought a new premium class car will be aware of the costs of the extras and will appreciate the value of this Suzuki.
Here is just a few items that would normally bump up the bill - remote locking with button start, heated electric folding mirrors, leather upholstery, 60/40% folding rear seat with ski hatch, 8-speaker audio system with MP3/WMA function, paddle gear shift, tinted glass/rear privacy glass, cruise control, front/rear parking sensors, driver’s knee airbag, space saver spare wheel, HID headlights and much more.
Viewed from all angles (just note the massive twin chrome exhausts) the Kizashi is a fresh and hugely competitive new kid on the block though my mind is a bit exercised regarding the name…perhaps Hawk or Eagle would be more appropriate for a make that has long offered a range of iconic Swifts!
SOME RIVALS: Ford Mondeo, Vauxhall Insignia, Skoda Octavia, Toyota Avensis, SEAT Exeo, VW Passat.
STAR RATINGS (out of 10)
Ride and Comfort 8
TOTAL: 85 %
On road price from £21,995.
NOTES FROM TED WILKINSON’S MOTORING DIARY
British car sales rose by a stronger-than-expected 8.2% on the year in September, a key month for the auto industry as it marks a twice-yearly change in vehicle registration plates.
Car registrations in September rose to 359,612 from 332,476 a year earlier – exceeding expectations by more than 26,000 cars – the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders industry association said last Thursday. www.smmt.co.uk
AUDI: A revitalised Audi R5 Cabriolet sporting a 443 bhp/450 ps V8 power is due for UK deliveries in early 2013. Order books open later this year when prices will be available. www.audi.co.uk
FIAT: According to information released by motor trade price monitors Glass’s Guide, the high selling Fiat 500 is the 7th best among cars that lose their value the least. Price is from £9,960 on the road for the 1.2 Pop petrol version which BTN has been taking a look at. In many ways it is a reincarnation of the original Mini. A report will follow. www.fiat.co.uk
JAGUAR has finally publically introduced the F type sports car, the recent Paris Motor Show chosen for the launch. First deliveries are not due until Spring 2013. The stunning lightweight two-seater is expected to retail from around£58,500. www jaguar.com
MASERATI: A new Grand Turismo Sport Maserati has been launched. Powered by a 460 bhp V8 engine with a choice of 6-speed manual gearbox or 6-speed automatic, it costs from £90,750 on the road. www.maserati.co.uk
MAZDA: For the first time standard contract hire support terms are available to leasing companies on special edition Mazda models including Mazda2, Mazda3, Mazda5 and two special edition Mazda MX5 sports cars. First unveiling of the new Mazda6 executive car was at the recent Moscow Motor Show. The new model is the second new Mazda after the recently launched CX-5 SUV to benefit from the KODA (Soul of Motion) design theme. www.mazda.co.uk
PEUGEOT: A luxury version of the latest Peugeot 208 model has been revealed. Based on the Geneva Show concept car it is dubbed the XY and comes in head-turning colours including purple and sports plenty of external chrome trimming, special lighting and interior customising. Power is based on 1.6 petrol and diesel units with several transmission options. www.peugeot.co.uk
PORSCHE; According to the Which? Magazine’s recent survey the Porsche Cayman came top in the Sports car section, UK customers rating the model the best brand and the retail network the best in the business. www.porsche.co.uk
ROVER has introduced what it calls “The All-New Range Rover”, the world’s most refined and capable SUV. The fourth generation of the iconic line takes the capabilities of the marque’s flagship to a new level, with even greater luxury and refinement, enhanced performance and handling on all terrains, and significant advances in sustainability. http://allnewrangerover.landrover.com
“Launching the all-new Range Rover represents a major milestone for Land Rover, being the first exciting output from an unprecedented investment in premium vehicle technologies”, said John Edwards, Land Rover Global Brand Director.
“The new Range Rover preserves the essential, unique character of the vehicle – that special blend of luxury, performance and unmatched all-terrain capability. However, its clean sheet design and revolutionary lightweight construction have enabled us to transform the experience for luxury vehicle customers, with a step change in comfort, refinement and handling”.
With order books now officially open and sales scheduled to start in late 2012, the all-new Range Rover will be introduced in 170 markets worldwide. www.landrover.com
RENAULT: Engine production at Renault’s Brazil engine plant is being increased from 400,000 units per year to 500,000 while car production at the car factory is scheduled for a 100,000 uplift from 280,000 units. Brazil is the French car maker’s second largest market. www.renault.com
SUZUKI: Hard on the heels of being rated the Car Buyer’s Hot Hatch of 2012, Suzuki’s Swift Sport model, the £13,499/121 mph hot hatch back has been rated by Auto Express as the best sports model in a 30-car comparison test. www.suzuki.co.uk
VOLKSWAGEN: The Volkswagen up! Compact city car can now be had with a 5-speed automatic transmission. The unit is an automated version of the manual gearbox and costs £595. It is available on the Move up! and the High up! versions apart from the super economy Blue Motion variants. A fully electric up! is due for release in late 2013.
Two new versions of the Beetle model have been launched. A 139 bhp 2.0 TDI diesel at £20,085 and a 2.0 199 bhp 2.0 petrol at £22,295. www.volkswagen.co.uk
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