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Suzuki Kizashi 2010 review

SOME time in the future, the Suzuki Kizashi will become the Datsun 1600. Go to a rally meeting and see how many Datsun 1600s are still running around. They have a great little chassis, excellent handling and bullet-proof mechanicals.

The same could be said for the new Kizashi, the first mid-sized car from the Japanese manufacturer and possibly the future favourite of amateur rally drivers. Now Suzuki has given the Kizashi a sportier look and added all-wheel drive, but still kept the price under $40,000.

VALUE

The Kizashi Sport AWD costs $39,990, which is $3000 more than the top-selling XLS with continuously variable transmission. That puts it in competition with the slightly larger Subaru Liberty which starts at $35,490, but equivalent equipment level models are over $40,000.

You get more than just AWD for the extra $3000. Outside there is a new-look grille with black chrome mesh, bigger air dams, new 18-inch alloys, chrome side highlights and fog light surrounds, a rear boot spoiler, side skirts and 10mm lower suspension with stiffer springs.

In the cabin there is a new leather steering wheel with chromed accents, a silver double-stitching highlight on the leather seats and trim and Bluetooth with controls on the steering wheel and the ability to play your music. This is all on top of a very high level of specification in the FWD models.

TECHNOLOGY

The car retains its 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, but there is a strong push from Suzuki Australia to introduce a turbo-powered unit, such is their belief in the chassis to safely handle the extra power. The Sport AWD arrives with CVT only.

It has a front transfer case with electromagnetic coupling and a rear differential with a three-link prop shaft linking them. It can be switched on the fly between 2WD and AWD modes at the touch of a button on the dash to the right of the driver.

In AWD, it runs in FWD until the electromagnetic coupler senses slip and transfers torque up to 100 per cent in the direction required.

There is also a type of launch control that splits torque 50-50 for maximum grip and take-off acceleration, when more than 10 per cent throttle is applied and the vehicle is moving at less than 10km/h. There is no centre diff lock and the dampers and shocks are unchanged. It runs on 235mm Yokohama low-decibel tyres to reduce noise.

STYLING

For some, there may be a bit too much bling, but sports drivers quite like that. I think it's a handsome cab with enough touches of chrome bling to make it look a step up on the top-spec XLS without overdoing it. It retains the 18-inch wheels from the XLS, but with new alloy designs and comes in red, black, silver, white, pearl and a new mineral grey colour, but dropping the blue.

DRIVING

Take it for a drive and words like refined, quiet and poised come to mind. But when we took the standard Kizashi on Carsguide Car of the Year testing earler this month (November 2010), we were surprised by the lack of lateral grip from the Yokohama low-noise tyres on wet hot-mix asphalt surfaces.

So I went searching for similar surfaces in the rain to see if the lack of grip in the AWD model led to the same squirmy handling we experienced in the FWD model. While the Yokohama tyres are still compromised for wet lateral grip, the AWD system works overtime to reduce the oversteer and understeer shenanigans.

In countersteer situations, the power steering also lightens the wheel weight to help you correct a skid and the 50-50 weight distribution helps the driver keep some order.

Apart from the tyres, my only other concern is the gearbox. It is one of the better continuously variable transmissions I've tried with a quick response and little flaring. However, I heard it groan a couple of times when pushed.

It would be nice if Suzuki offered their trusty six-speed manual gearbox from the standard model and truly earnt that "Sport" tag.

VERDICT

The car is so quiet, you can afford to slap on some decent rubber that makes a bit more road noise, but provides more assuring wet weather grip. Given Suzuki's reputation for reliability and this car's excellent handling characteristics, in 20 years you can still be running it competitively at your local rally track.

Pricing Guides

$8,999
Based on 29 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$8,750
Highest Price
$12,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Sport AWD 2.4L, ULP, CVT AUTO $8,800 – 12,430 2010 Suzuki Kizashi 2010 Sport AWD Pricing and Specs
XL 2.4L, ULP, 6 SP MAN $8,990 – 9,000 2010 Suzuki Kizashi 2010 XL Pricing and Specs
XLS 2.4L, ULP, CVT AUTO $10,990 – 12,990 2010 Suzuki Kizashi 2010 XLS Pricing and Specs
Pricing Guide

$6,490

Lowest price, based on 29 car listings in the last 6 months

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