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Suzuki Kizashi flagship for 2010


The bold, break-through Kizashi has been shrunken and softened from the aggressive concept car that won fans at motor shows across the globe.

The production version of the Kizashi is a 130mm narrower and sits on a 150mm shorter wheelbase than the original show car and the shape has also been softened to appeal to ultra-conservative customers in the US, its biggest target audience.

The only production payback is an 80mm increase in height, to improve headroom, although this change has also taken some of the edge of out the Kizashi design.

Official Suzuki pictures show a car which has changed a lot from the teaser cars, which began as a sporty hatchback and became a all-wheel- drive crossover before the close-to-production version last year.

The reasoning is simple: Suzuki's first mid-size car must face up against the volume sellers like the heavyweight Toyota Camry, Honda Accord and Mazda6 in the sub-$30,000 class and so size is critical. Particularly in the US.

The Kizashi and Camry share the same width and height but the Suzuki is 165mm shorter overall and it has a 75mm shorter wheelbase than the popular Toyota.

Suzuki Australia general manager, Tony Devers, says the car does look smaller visually but it still has a large cabin.

``It actually looks good in the metal and a lot more aggressive in the flesh than the photos,'' he says.

The car's full specifications are being saved for the Frankfurt Motor Show but Suzuki has said it will come with an all-alloy 2.4-litre four cylinder in both front and all-wheel drive.

The four-cylinder is shared with the Grand Vitara and will be mated to a six-speed manual gearbox or continuously variable transmission with paddle shifters.

A V6 all-wheel drive and turbo-diesel are also expected. Apart from the four and V6 Suzuki is also developing a hybrid version.

Visually, Suzuki says the car is a combination of both Japanese and European design. The front retains the concept's deep grille but is softer and the slim- line eyebrow headlights have given way to larger headlights and conventional foglights. However, the short boot, short overhangs and sweeping roofline remain faithful to the concept.

The Kizashi will hit local Suzuki showrooms in the second quarter of next year. Much of the car's development work was done in Europe with final testing at the famous Nurburgring in Germany.

The Kizashi has a rigid light-weight steel body while both the front and multi-link rear suspension make extensive use of light-weight aluminium to ensure nimble handling.

Inside the cabin follows Suzuki's current family theme with white and red gauges and the use of alloy-look highlights. Equipment includes a premium Rockford Fosgate sound system, push- button start, and iPod and Bluetooth connectivity.

Safety equipment runs to eight airbags, electronic stability control and dynamic control, anti-skid brakes, projector beam headlamps and tyre pressure monitoring.

The Kizashi will be built at a new plant in Sagara, Japan.