2011 Suzuki Kizashi Performance

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Performance
The 2011 Suzuki Kizashi only comes with a four-cylinder engine, but it's a gutsy one that can move this compact sedan plenty quick. The 185-hp, 2.4-liter feels at its perkiest between 2,500 rpm and 5,000, and it provides spirited performance either with the six-speed manual gearbox or available continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).

The manual gearbox is definitely the best of the two, with a smooth, well-coordinated clutch takeup, even if the shifter feels a little imprecise, and a tall fifth and sixth gear bring relaxed high-speed cruising. Zero to 60 mph takes as little as 7.5 seconds. With the CVT, the Kizashi is a less exciting car overall (and the engine makes 5 hp less, technically); it doesn't feel nearly as responsive, even if it can accelerate quickly. In Drive, the CVT takes too long to ramp up revs for brief passes or squirts of power. But paddle-shifters alongside the steering wheel allow access to six simulated ratios on all but base S models, and pre-ordering one of those ratios allows better responsiveness.

With the CVT, the Kizashi comes either with front-wheel drive or the new i-AWD system, which is configured for enhanced cornering and managed via the stability control system.

The 2011 Suzuki Kizashi's powertrains feel energetic but ordinary; however out on a twisty road it has the verve of a pricier sport sedan.

While the powertrain is good but not stellar, the Kizashi is very remarkable—and by some accounts class-leading—with respect to steering and handling. It has excellent steering response; it loads up predictably—and better than most electric-boost units—though it doesn't have much road feel. Overall, though the Kizashi feels athletic, and excellent suspension tuning, body control, and grip give it a nimble, tossable feel. Brakes employ Akebono performance calipers, and they feel strong but a little touchy.

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