After years of lackluster sales and vehicles that haven’t quite resonated with U.S. buyers—the Aerio and Esteem small cars are cases in point—Suzuki is hoping to find a new direction with a stylish new 2010 Kizashi sport sedan that goes on sale at the end of the year, called Kizashi. Although the sedan has been all but confirmed for months, Suzuki made its official announcement for the U.S. market today and included some new details for this new flagship model.
The new Kizashi arrives looking better than any Suzuki sedan we can recall. The automaker declares that the new sedan melds European style and flair plus Japanese craftsmanship and quality; its overall look isn’t particularly groundbreaking, but the athletic stance, big 18-inch wheels, and short overhangs—especially in front—give it a neat, sporty look that clearly evolved from the concept cars of the same name that Suzuki has shown over the past two years.
The 2010 Kizashi will launch with a 2.4-liter in-line four-cylinder engine with lightweight aluminum construction and a balance-shaft system to maintain smoothness. Suzuki calls out its J24B engine as the standard one in the Kizashi; that’s the same same powerplant that the automaker began offering in the U.S. as a more economical choice on the Grand Vitara for 2009.
A six-speed manual gearbox will be standard, though an economical continuously variable transmission (CVT) will be offered for those who want an automatic. Following a recent trend that makes CVTs a bit more enjoyable from a driving perspective, the CVT will include steering-wheel paddle shifters. Front- and all-wheel-drive versions will be offered from the start, and a V-6 version is on the way. In addition, a hybrid version of the Kizashi is under development and TheCarConnection.com estimates it to be less than a year away.
Unlike the Verona, which was built by Daewoo in South Korea and sold in the U.S. through 2006, the 2010 Kizashi will be built by Suzuki in Japan; that’s great news as recent models built by Suzuki have typically had a strong reputation for longevity and reliability.
Suzuki says that the Kizashi “was benchmarked against some of the leading cars in the world,” and the company looked to the Nurburgring in Germany, along with Alpine mountain roads and England’s rural cobblestone roads, for chassis tuning. A multi-link rear setup with “embedded aluminum”—and struts, likely, in front—suspend the Kizashi, while four-wheel disc brakes are standard.
Nothing appears to be omitted on the generous safety equipment list; eight airbags, electronic stability control, and anti-lock brakes are all standard. The available all-wheel drive system in the 2010 Suzuki Kizashi has, like in the SX4, an ‘AWD’ switch that allows better fuel economy when there’s no need for the added traction; in AWD mode, the system splits torque between front and rear wheels based on wheel slippage and throttle input.
Designers kept space-efficiency in mind when penning the interior to “afford comfort and practicality without the wasted space typically found in larger-bodied sedans,” according to the release accompanying the announcement. The enthusiast-themed cabin includes standard sport seats, while luxurious heated leather upholstery with French seams is optional. Top tech features will include iPod connectivity, Bluetooth streaming audio, and a 425-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system.