First Drive: 2010 Suzuki Kizashi Page 2

October 15, 2009

2010 Suzuki Kizashi

The 2010 Suzuki Kizashi has a firm yet very absorbent ride; on coarse surfaces, it soaks up irregularities, and even minor bumps don't boom into the cabin as in some other sporty sedans. The Kizashi handles very well overall, with nicely weighted steering that lends some feel of the road—though it tends to feel a bit lifeless on center. The brakes, which are larger than those in rival vehicles and incorporate Akebono calipers, have a firm, confidence-inspiring feel, and they didn't fade appreciably even with heavy use out on the racetrack.

As for the interior of the 2010 Suzuki Kizashi, we'll have more for you soon in a follow-up post, but in brief the Kizashi has a cabin that's comfortable enough for four full-sized adults; surprisingly pleasant, upscale materials; and well-bolstered sport seats on all trims, not just the top model. Controls for the audio and climate control have a positive, high-quality feel with a textured grip (with slightly angled buttons that remind us of Mercedes-Benz interiors), and wouldn't be out of place on a car costing twice as much. The only thing that interrupted the top-notch refinement: the engine can be sound a little coarse and boomy when pushed (though it's vibration-free), and in the pre-production test car we spent the most time in also had some pronounced wind noise around the passenger-side mirror above 70 mph.

Suzuki typically offers few if any options on its U.S. vehicles, instead including a strong list of standard features, and the 2010 Suzuki Kizashi takes that to a new level. Dual-zone climate control, push-button start, and steering-wheel audio controls are offered even on the base S, while top GTS and SLS trims get Rockford Fosgate audio, Bluetooth audio streaming and hands-free calling, plus on the SLS there are some features worthy of a luxury model, including leather upholstery, heated front seats, rain-sensor wipers, rear parking sensors, and heated mirrors. Later in the model year, an in-dash nav system will be optional—though we've found the pop-up Garmin system in other Suzuki vehicles like the 2010 SX4 to be perfectly agreeable. just posted our Bottom Line assessment of the 2010 Suzuki Kizashi. Overall, we love the Kizashi's pleasing materials; quiet, well-isolated cabin, roomy interior and cargo space; maneuverability; and how it succeeds in providing a premium feel at a bargain price. The only downsides to the Kizashi include an engine that's a little gruff when worked hard, headroom that can become tight with the moonroof, and a manual transmission linkage that's not as precise as we'd expect in a sport sedan.

That said, we were quite impressed with this sedan that's competent in all areas and excellent in several respects. But how does Suzuki—a relative unknown—prove its point that this is a great, economical sport sedan and not get lost in the fray? Perhaps the odd model name will help them here, but only time will tell.

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