I’ve never really liked convertibles, and still don’t. It’s just something about the looks, and the fact that it almost always ruins a good coupe. I have had this dislike for a long time; Mustangs should be coupes. The Corvette should be a coupe. The 911 should most definitely be a coupe, and so on and so on. On the other hand, a true roadster or speedster that is born as a topless driving machine, I love. The Shelby Cobra, the Stirling Moss Edition SLR, and cars like the Arial Atom and Caterham are cars that I have always admired and lusted after. Yes they don’t have a top, much like the convertibles I listed earlier, but the difference is that when you design a car as a coupe then chop the top to please a non-enthusiast buyer, you end up ruining the car in both performance and looks--in my opinion.
In 2001, a company that I knew only for their bikes, and I’m not a bike guy, came out with a true speedster concept that not only looked amazing then, but looking back now it would still be a modern and “out there” concept car. This car was called the GSX-R/4 by a company, you might have guessed by now, called Suzuki. Seeing this amazing little speedster led me to investigate the Suzuki brand as a whole, and man, am I glad I did. Here in America, as with many car companies, we don’t always get the best the company has to offer. Suzuki didn’t sell much here in America back in 2001, and nothing worthy of an enthusiast’s attention, unless you like 4X4s, so my interest quickly dissipated. All the way into 2007 was more of the same with Suzuki--great cars overseas and slim offerings in the U.S. Then comes the SX4, Suzuki’s attempt to bring a fully Japanese built, sporty car to America. Granted, the SX4’s 0-60 mph time was 10 seconds and it looks like an egg, but despite this it had Suzuki’s iAWD (intelligent all-wheel drive) system and a chassis built for rally racing. The SX4 was Suzuki’s first step in the right direction. Their second was cutting ties with GM and Daewoo, and now their third big step toward getting an American car enthusiast like me to buy a Suzuki product is the all new Kizashi.
Suzuki is so confident that the Kizashi will win over American car buyers that they have put their money where their mouth is. The new campaign from Suzuki marketing is go test drive the Kizashi, then test drive an Audi A4 or Acura TSX. If you end up not buying the Kizashi, then Suzuki will pay you $100. Granted, it’s more of a marketing campaign to announce who Suzuki really has their eyes set on, but it has gotten the enthusiast world buzzing about Suzuki. So what do we think?
Let’s start with inside our Vivid Red Kizashi GTS. The only optional add-on for this car are premium floor mats and body side molding accents. This is because the Kizashi is packed full of standard features that would break the bank in cars that Suzuki has its sights set on. What you get as standard equipment on the GTS include things like dual zone auto climate control, 10-way power driver’s seat, steering wheel audio controls, a leather wrapped steering wheel and shifter, cruise control, power tilt and slide sunroof, and an amazing stereo. The 425 watt Rockford Fosgate system has 10 speakers including a trunk mounted sub, iPod and MP3 USB port, Bluetooth hands free calling, wireless audio streaming, and a CD player. Crank this sucker up and you’ll be impressed with this factory stereo. The seats are premium cloth and as far as cloth seats go, these are great. You still get good support and a comfortable seating position. The materials used throughout the interior of the Kizashi feel premium and Suzuki did a great job making sure the touch points were spot on. Obviously, a car like the A4 is going to have a better quality interior, but not by a substantial amount. The trunk in this mid-sized car inevitably surprised everyone we showed it to. Despite the exterior looks, which make this car appear much smaller than it actually is, the interior and trunk are very spacious. Many people were not happy with the exterior looks of the car when it was first introduced, mainly complaining about the difference in design from the last concept to final production. This never bothered me because I never have high hopes with car companies bringing concept design into production. Despite this, the Kizashi does look sporty with flared fenders and an integrated trunk spoiler, 18 inch alloy wheels, short overhangs in the front and rear, and even the fake dual exhaust outlets in the rear--it all works together and really does it for me.