The eighth contender in our 2012 Car of the Year overview is the Kizashi 2.4 SDLX MT. COTY Judge and Mambaonline Motoring Editor Brent Ellis give us his take on Suzuki’s first large sedan.


The new Kizashi from Suzuki is quite a talking point in the motoring world. Never before has this relatively small Japanese manufacturer built a large sedan like this. And, for their first attempt at a mid-size executive saloon, to produce a car as utterly brilliant as the Kizashi, is highly commendable.

After spending considerable amounts of time behind the wheels of three of these cars, the Kizashi is almost flawless. So much so in fact, that it stands a good chance of coming in the top three when the 2012 Car of the Year is announced in March.


On looks alone this car deserves a “podium finish”. What Suzuki have done is create a car that looks so unique and so bespoke that few know what on earth it is. And then, when people notice the Suzuki badges on the front and rear they only open their eyes wider. It’s a mix of corporate smart attire and Japanese traditional dress, all coming together to create a very pretty machine.

Sharp lines meet bulbous curves, and there are so many interesting design features you can easily spend hours just absorbing the magnificence. Highlights for me are the crafted-looking mesh grille up front, the pretty 18-inch alloy wheels and the car’s bum as a whole – the perky tail gate with its aerodynamically raised third brake light, and the oddly-shaped exhaust outlets, which have been modelled on one of Suzuki’s motorcycle’s exhausts. The overall effect is a car which looks a lot smaller than it is.

That results in a “wow” as soon as you get inside and realise how much space there actually is on offer. Large leather seats mean that passengers are basted in comfort, and the stylish dashboard design with soft-touch finishes and a classy feel, is pleasant to look at. Ergonomics are also great, with quality buttons and switches falling easily to hand. I spent most of December and the beginning of January in this car and I really was sad to have to hand it back to Suzuki. It had found a soft spot in my heart and had (literally) become part of the family.

Comfort and Features

Things are looking good thus far, and they’re only going to get better. The Kizashi was surprisingly comfortable, and I say that in the sense that no matter where I drove it, it was comfortable. Anything from a concrete highway and potholed back roads to a ton of rough dirt road driving over my Christmas holiday, this car never put a foot wrong. And my goodness, even on horrific corrugations, it was superb. One thing I noted was that, despite endless dirty kilometres on roads rough enough to shake your fillings loose, once back on smooth tar the Kizashi didn’t develop even a single rattle or squeak. And this after my blessed grandmother was convinced the car was falling apart! One criticism I do have however is that the driver’s seat squab was too firm and I ended up with numb buttocks after a good day’s driving. There is adjustable lumbar support which kept my back in check. But the buns; well they were rather worse for wear…

Then we get to this car’s specification level. Rather like the Honda Accord, which I consider to be the benchmark for the “underdogs” of this 3 Series/A4/C-Class segment, the Kizashi comes with just about everything as standard. This includes items like keyless entry and a start button, electric windows all round, electric front seat adjustment, full leather upholstery (including the gear lever and multi-function steering wheel), a comprehensive trip computer, cruise control, dual-zone climate control and rear vents, a great CD/radio/MP3/aux/USB/iPod sound system, automatic xenon headlights, front fog lights, rain-sensing wipers, a sunroof, parking sensors front and rear and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror. Besides perhaps satellite navigation, what more could you possibly want from this car?

Ride and Handling

I’ve mentioned the stupendous comfort, but don’t think that the Kizashi is softly sprung and therefore a boat in the bends. After thumping it around a test track at Gerotek (a large vehicle testing facility near Pretoria), I was once again blown away by this car’s talents. You can literally just chuck it into corners, where the fat tyres provide good grip and, if you do overcook things, the car’s stability control sorts you out without a fuss. Steering feedback is also very good, so you can confidently drive with gusto in this car. No surprise really, considering Suzuki used the Nürburgring in Germany to hone the Kizashi’s dynamics. It’s a heap of fun to drive fast, and no less inspiring at normal city speeds.

Performance and Economy

All Kizashi models are powered by a 2.4-litre normally-aspirated 4-cylinder petrol engine, which is sort-of the “recipe” for cars like this – the Honda Accord and Hyundai Sonata make use of similar engines. Mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox and powering the front wheels, the engine produces a decent 131kW and 230Nm – nothing to snigger at. Performance claims aren’t shabby either: Suzuki says you’ll complete the 0-100km/h dash in 7.8 seconds and top out at 215km/h. What I particularly enjoyed, however, was the driveability of this engine. The power peaks at 6500rpm, so if you’re looking for a brisk drive to work, you’ll enjoy throttling it (and it loves to rev). If you just want to drive normally and save fuel as a result though, the Kizashi is beautifully tractable at low revs.

The results of this gentle driving speak for themselves. Suzuki claims the combined average fuel consumption for this car to be 7.9-litres per 100km which sounds rather good for a car like this. But, after a mix of highway cruising and city driving (with a bias on the latter), I returned a truly brilliant 7.5-litres per 100km (it went as low as 7.3 at one point)! Carbon emissions are said to be 186g/km for this engine and transmission combo (Kizashi comes in CVT automatic form as well).


No surprises here – Kizashi is laden with the important stuff to keep you and yours safe. This includes six airbags, ABS with EBD (anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution), ESP (stability control) and traction control. Pre-tensioned seat belts and ISOFIX child seat anchors are also included.


Here’s where the biggest surprise comes in. With all that standard kit, no options to push the price up, great dynamics and a good drivetrain, and including a 3-year/100 000km warranty and a 6-year/90 000km service plan, this car retails for a modest R302 900! That’s it – no ifs, ands or buts. Now I ask you, why are you still lusting after that expensive German option in this segment?

Kizashi goes up against quite an interesting array of manual-transmission cars, from the Honda Accord 2.4 Executive (R360 400), the VW Passat 1.8 TSI Comfortline (R299 900 without extras) and Audi’s A4 1.8T FSI Ambition (R328 180 without extras), to the BMW 323i (R374 071 without extras, and about to be replaced), Merc’s C180 (R359 000 without extras) and the Volvo S60 T4 Essential (R331 600 without extras). Now this situation can be evaluated in two ways. If you’re buying around the level of the BMW and Mercedes, the Kizashi would represent a good alternative and a huge monetary saving every month. That is of course conside

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