Three, it would seem, really is a charm for Suzuki. The 2009 Suzuki Kizashi 3 Concept vehicle, that is. The third in a series of recent concept vehicles, the prototype that the Japanese automaker unveiled at the New York Auto Show, this week, gives a very clear picture of where Suzuki intends to move its brand in the very near future.
Bigger and bolder are two words that immediately come to mind, though Suzuki Vice President Gene Brown referred to the Kizashi 3 as an “athlete in motion.” Whatever you prefer, the show car is the first attempt by a manufacturer best known for its compact cars and trucks to push into the D, or midsize, segment of the market.
There’s a clear family resemblance apparent here, starting with the Kizashi 1, which was first featured at the Frankfurt Motor Show, last September. The bold face, with its metallic black grille, and contrasting S-logo, is vaguely reminiscent of the oversized grilles on recent Audi models. But the chopped roofline is more in tune with a Dodge station wagon.
The white Kizashi 2, revealed last October, at the Tokyo Motor Show, adopted a slightly less truck-like presence, opting for a more rounded roofline and a smaller, yet still quite in-your-face grille.
Now, with Kizashi 3, Suzuki seems to have found the long-sought balance in the design form. The large, metallic crosshatch grille has plenty of presence, but its offset by a rounded hoodline. The roof arcs back in a flow reminiscent of the coupe-like Mercedes-Benz CLS.
The oversized, 21-inch aftermarket-style wheels add plenty of bling, though the huge brake rotors partially hidden behind the spokes underscored the athletic theme Suzuki was seeking. That’s further emphasized by Kizashi 3’s wide track and muscular stance.
Under that curvaceous hood, the 2009 Suzuki Kizashi 3 Concept sports a 300-horsepower naturally-aspirated 3.6-liter V-6. That’s plenty of muscle from such a modest-sized powerplant, confirming Brown’s claim that it was derived from Suzuki’s motorcycle engineering expertise.
The engine is mated to a six-speed automatic with paddle shifters, and is directed into an intelligent All-Wheel-Drive system meant to handle that power.
Officially, it may be a concept car, but Brown made it clear Suzuki wants to enter this larger, more up-market segment, most likely by 2010, which suggests that the Kizashi 3 is very darned close to what we’ll see in just a very few years.
Pushing both larger and decidedly up-market igoing to be a challenge, the executive acknowledged. Even though Suzuki has been posting significant sales gains, in recent years, a production version of Kizashi would be a push, he said, “And there’s no question it would have to be accompanied by the biggest marketing push in our history.”
As to price, Brown suggested that other than the most heavily-optioned versions, a production Kizashi will “absolutely” come in “without cracking $30,000.”
Like Hyundai, which is also aiming to move up-market, Suzuki has recognized it can stretch its buyers’ pocketbooks only so far.