With its new sport sedan, the Kizashi, Suzuki could have easily gone after the likes of the VW Jetta, Honda Civic, or Mazda6. Those cars seem like worthy competition, especially considering Suzuki has never had a true contender in the U.S. sport sedan market.
Suzuki, though, has other plans and wants to go toe-to-toe with Acura and Audi. And you know what? I think the Kizashi can hold its own.
First, though, to show how serious it is, Suzuki is offering $100 to anyone living in the U.S. who test drives a new Kizashi and ends up buying a more expensive premium branded 2010 Acura TSX or 2010 Audi A4 instead. That’s a pretty confident move by the little automaker, which is either exceptionally crazy or beautifully brilliant.
On the outside, the Kizashi has squinty headlights and a downright mean-looking grille paired with a sleek silhouette and an aggressive stance that looks way better than the oddly proportioned TSX. The A4 oozes class, which neither can touch, though. In exterior design, the Suzuki places second.
Inside the cabin, the Kizashi does well, but doesn’t deserve to be in the premium class. There’s way too much plastic on the dash. That said, the GTS trim does come standard with a 425-watt Rockford Fosgate sound system, USB port in the dash, Bluetooth, available heated seats, push-button start, and integrated steering-wheel controls. Maybe a hard plastic dash is worth living with to save about $10K over the Audi or Acura. Still, on details alone, Kizashi places third on interior quality.
Now, onto the good stuff: the engine.
A 2.4-liter DOHC four-cylinder producing 185 horsepower and 170 lb-feet of torque lies under the Kizashi’s hood. Buyers can choose front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive and a six-speed manual or a CVT with or without paddle shifters. The A4 and TSX offer quicker acceleration, but believe it or not, the Kizashi just might be more fun to drive. (Chalk that up to the Kizashi’s responsive steering system and sport-tuned suspension!) This one’s debatable, but I wouldn’t fault anyone for placing the Kizashi first here.
And then there is the bottom line: price. The Kizashi starts at $18,999. The Acura TSX begins at $29,310, and the Audi A4 starts at $31,450.
I’m convinced that Suzuki has done the near-impossible with the Kizashi and built a car worthy of premium competition.
I bet Suzuki won’t be paying out too many hundred-dollar bills to new Audi and Acura owners. What do you think?