New car report; A sign of great things to come
One of this year's star performers on the New Zealand automotive sales ladder has been Suzuki, with over a 40% increase in the first quarter of 2010 over 2009.
With around 1,200 units sold in the first three months of the year, the figure sounds impressive. However, the total number alone doesn't tell the whole story as up until now Suzuki has been heavily reliant upon one model, with over 800 of the 1,200 cars leaving their showrooms wearing the "Swift" badge.
Having built a solid reputation for producing very good small cars, with the Swift setting the benchmark in its segment, Suzuki has embarked on a new journey, entering the competitive medium segment with the all new Kizashi.
Suzuki New Zealand execs tell us that a couple of other names were considered for our market, but in the end they stayed with the original Japanese name Kizashi, meaning "a sign of great things to come."
At 4,650mm in length, the Kizashi isn't the biggest car in its segment, but interior space isn't lacking, with plenty of room for five, although taller drivers might find it a bit shy on headroom.
AWD for USA, but not here in New Zealand
New Zealand is one of the first markets in the world to get the Kizashi, which was launched in the USA late last year in All Wheel Drive configuration, but no AWD version is available here, with models for our market being front wheel drive.
Two models are available here, with the entry level GLX model having either a six speed manual gearbox or CVT automatic, while the upgraded Kizashi LTD comes in CVT only.
Suzuki is pitching the Kizashi at the sporty end of the medium segment and with a firm suspension set-up compared with its competitors it manages to negotiate tight, twisty turns with minimal body roll, while still offering a comfortable ride quality.
A great deal of attention has been given to noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) with use of insulating materials and seals in the underfloor, dashboard, pillars and wheel wells. As a result, the Kisashi is both smooth and quiet.
The Kizashi offers an impressively high standard of interior finish, with quality materials being used throughout the cabin.
Powered by an upgraded version of the Suzuki Grand Vitara's 2.4 litre 4 cylinder petrol engine producing 131kW of power at 6,500 rpm and 230Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm, fuel consumption is claimed to be 7.9L/100 km for both manual and CVT versions.
Manual 'box shaves 1 second off 0 - 100km/h time
Performance from 0 - 100km/h is quoted at 7.8 seconds for the manual, which is fairly brisk, but the CVT auto adds another second to that time, reaching our open road speed limit in 8.8 seconds.
The entry level Kizashi GLX gets 17 inch alloys, keyless start and entry, dual zone climate air conditioning, USB port and audio controls on the steering wheel. Cruise Control is offered in the CVT versions, but not the manual.
The LTD adds leather trim, electric heated front seats, 18 inch alloys, electric sunroof, alarm, HID auto headlights, rain sensing wipers, paddle shift on the steering wheel, fog lights, front and rear parking aid and a 425 watt Rockford Fosgate audio system.
Safety equipment includes six airbags as well as stability and traction control. Akebono, the company that provides the braking system for the famous Japanese Bullet train, supplies the brakes for Kizashi, with ventilated front and solid rear discs.
An impressive 1,700kg braked tow rating is quoted across the range.
The GLX model with six speed manual transmission is priced at $35,990, rising to $37,990 for the CVT automatic transmission. In LTD form, Kizashi CVT automatic is $42,990.