Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Suzuki Kizashi - A Japanese Audi

I don't know what Kizashi means but it certainly conveys "from Japan," and Suzuki's premium sedan is. It's as if a well-known manufacturer of motorcycles and small cars decided to build an Audi A4.

The seats, for example, are not only covered in leather, but are beautifully stitched and proved quite comfortable on the hour-long rides to work and back. I would have gladly sat longer if I had a more exotic destination, but alas, that was not to be this week.

The craftsmanship of the dash was, as far as I could tell, perfect, with padded sections and exquisite matte finishes (Audi again). The instrument panel rises up behind the steering wheel and back down gracefully in a simple, clean curve, much like the Audis of the early to mid 2000's. The effect of it all, including the stitched door panels, is luxury absolutely without ostentation.

And, its very quiet inside the Kizashi (sounds like something to do with Samurai, doesn't it?) Hey, Suzuki sold the Samurai small Jeeplike vehicle years ago! The Samurai was and is known as the Jimny worldwide, where it is still sold. Popular in the 1980's in the U.S., the tiny 4wd trucklet tipped over easily, earning it some notoriety. It was replaced by the larger and presumably more stable Sidekick (Escudo elsewhere) which is now known as the Grand Vitara in the U.S.

The Kizashi provides 180 horsepower from its 2.4-liter four. Through the continuously-variable automatic in my test car it zoomed forward energetically with little fuss. Competitors may have more guts but offer no more satisfaction, to my mind.

Like the Audis they resemble, Kizashis are available in front wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive, with manual or automatic transmission. The FWD, manually equipped car starts at under $20,000, including destination charge.

My test car's Deep Sea Blue Metallic paint was well-applied and lustrous, offering the informal elegance of a nice blue blazer. It's tan interior mimicked the tan slacks that would set that blazer off. All that's missing is the brass buttons, although my car did have glistening 18-inch alloy wheels.

Sadly, most people won't consider this fine car when they go looking because they don't know how good it is and don't think "Suzuki" when they head out to the dealerships. I say, don't miss out on this car!

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