Suzuki Kizashi Sport SLS

By/Por Ed Madinya Photos by the author

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WOW! I haven’t had this much fun in a compact car in a very long time. I was thrown for a loop by Suzuki’s little four-banging wonder. The Vivid Red four-door blew my doors off. I’ll have to admit that I didn’t see this coming. When I received the car I thought, “O’kay. Nice looking. Very red — very, very red.”

First I noticed that the red paint screamed louder than Ferrari’s Rosso Corsa FER 300 (Ferrair paint number). Seriously — it did. Then my brows turned upward as I saw the large, urban (as in chain link fence style) blacked-out grill with the shiny “S” on it. Along the side of the car was a chrome feature along the lower body that resembled a Samurai’s mighty sword. Chrome hasn’t been seen on a import car since the mid-eighties. Believe it when I say that back then, chrome was put on because there was an empty space on a cars body panel. Simply put, there was no reason to put chrome on. Now, this slice of chrome made symbolic sense on the Kizashi.

The stance of the car was cool looking and the sport aerobody kit and light alloy sport wheels added some aggresivness to the 4-door sedan. And the answer to your question is: Yes, the Kizashi performs.

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Engine
Standing starts were fair and I could really feel the engine wanting more as i got to higher highway speeds. Suzuki employed their 2.4 L DOHC 4-cylinder engine. The 16-valve powerplant delivered 185 horsepower and 170 LBS-Ft torque. The clean engine bay was a bit tight but all the necessary access was there. What we would also like to see there is about 20 more horses. We are certain that Suzuki will add the horsepower to match up better with their competition.

Transmission
The six-speed manual transmission was a smooth drivetrain component that we really enjoyed shifting and we shifted often as we changed and weaved between lanes—safely of course.

Suspension
The sporty suspension took a mild sedan and made it a joy to drive. Case and point, I usually choose a lane and typically stay in that lane the entire way (20 miiles) to the office. But, in the Kizashi, I wanted to change lanes often and I felt safe in doing so because of the firm and stable ride of the car.

Cornering in the Kizashi was smooth and there was no over steer or under steer. Handling  the corners felt less anxious than other cars we’ve tested because of the 4-Wheel independent and sport-tuned suspension. The car remained planted without much lean around the turns and the car didn’t pull to either the right or the left on straightaways as the car was accelerated.

The sport tuned suspension added another notable benefit. The lowered suspension with tighter coils made the car look aggressive. This solidified the dedication that Suzuki had placed upon adding serious performance in their cars.

Safety
The car featured a solid uni-body construction with a rollover rating of four stars. The car meets 2014 NHTSA crash compliance. Rest assured that the electronic controlled systems, like stability and traction, are standard features. And feel confident that, at posted speeds, the car will utilize Bosche’s anti-lock braking system to bring you to a stop.

The 4-Wheel disc brakes with Akebono components look great as seen through the European inspired, multi-spoke rims. For performance and safety the wheels are mated to All-Season Dunlops (P235/45R18) that add to the car’s stickiness to the road whether straight or windy.

Comfort
The interior was sporty and functional with a 10-way power driver’s seat, dual zone climate control, 425W Rockford Fosgate CD audio with 10 speakers and iPod/USB port. Bluetooth hands-free calling and wireless audio streaming was part of this package. Many of the most used functions were located on or near the sporty, leather wrapped steering wheel that tilted and telescoped. We we’re nestled in the cabin by leather appointments from the front to the back. The heated front seats were also firm and comfortable especially while driving to and from the office in the unforgiving Los Angeles traffic. There was some measurable road noise in the cabin but the noise didn’t compete with the passenger’s comfort or ability to chit chat.

Value
Suzuki packed plenty of features into this compact. We are pleased to mention that this SLS priced in at $24,699. I suggest adding XM Satelite Radio for $350 and $125 for the premium floor mats. Lest I forget to mention, the $745 destination and handling fee will make the total vehicle price $25,918.

True story. One late night after taking some pictures of the Kizashi I decided to stop by the local Alberto’s Mexican Food for a late night breakfast burrito. On my way there, I was pulled over by one of the local Sheriff’s deputy. No, not for speeding but because of the suspicious license plate (Distributor Plate). I informed her that I was reviewing this new car for a magazine column. She was intrigued and asked me what it was as she commented that she had never seen one before. I said this is the new Kizashi by Suzuki. She obviously liked it as she walked around it and later came around and said, “Looks fast.” and I smiled and said, ‘It is.” She chuckled and said, “Go on Sir. Have a good evening. Be careful.”

Among the many other features that this car has, I think the Kizashi also has one other very important characteristic — charm.

No tickets were issued to the reviewer of this vehicle. 😉