Power comes from all corners
WHEN first unveiled back in August, Suzuki claimed it had added a “sixth sense” to its classy mid-size saloon.
The all-wheel drive derivative was claimed as a triumph for the sporting driver and raising the bar in some competitive territory.
Perhaps that Sixth Sense was more to do with the movie starring Bruce Willis rather than additional ability…because the Kizashi with power pushing all four wheels may already be dead.
Well, not quite. At the Aussie motor show the same machine was unveiled with an aftermarket turbocharger.
It's a surprising move from Suzuki Australia given the Kizashi Sport AWD is only just out of the box. The car will now be offered to the media to test, while Suzuki will also gauge customer feedback to establish the feasibility of adding it to the Kizashi range.
But for now, the naturally aspirated all-wheel drive four-potter remains atop the Kizashi heap.
This version gains a few extra go-fast bits, like a body kit and bigger alloys, and a few extra trinkets. It costs three grand more than the XLS model...the big question remains: is it worth it?
Virtually identical to the XLS inside, you do get some more sporting touches in a functional yet classy cabin.
Among those extras are some chrome garnishes, silver stitching on the seats, handbrake and gear levers, along with steering wheel mounted controls for Bluetooth phone connectivity.
The same hard plastics are used through the console, but they don't detract from the look and feel which is basic yet extremely easily to use.
Getting your bearings on the stereo and the dual-zone air-conditioning takes little analysis and the cruise control buttons on the steering wheel are equally simple.
The driver's seat has 10-way electric adjustment, while the telescopic steering changes are done manually.
All important cupholders are well catered for, with a large pair in the front in the centre console able to handle drink bottles or they can be stored in the doors. There is also another pair of holders in the centre armrest.
Despite looking smaller than some of its rivals, the cabin space is good enough for four adults. Head and legroom are impressive, and none of the occupants will complain about the ride quality which is quiet and balanced.
On the road
Here's where the major changes are felt.
The Sport is 70 kilograms heavier due to the all-wheel drive technology.
Yet it's the same engine as you get across the whole range, a 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol generating 131 kilowatts and 230 Newton metres, so unfortunately that has led to heavier fuel consumption.
But the payoff comes when you enter the first bend.
There were few complains about the two-wheel drive version, but the Sport has outstanding grip and a more precise steering feel.
That inspired ample confidence and encourages you to work the four-potter hard.
It's only available with a CVT automatic so when the need arises for athletic performance you often have to opt for the tiptronic-style shifters on the steering wheel as the Kizashi struggles to keep up with demand.
From about 4000rpm the engine tends to sing as you strive for additional mid-range punch.
Yet, the additional grip is outstanding. During our week-long test, it was particularly impressive during some torrential downpours.
With the roads awash, the Kizashi Sport sliced its way across the bitumen with consummate ease.
This model is lowered to the tune of 15mm which has reduced body roll and aided impressive changes in direction.
What do you get?
The XLS model on which the Sport is based has some pretty good standard gear, including dual zone climate control air-con, 425 watt Rockford Fosgate sound system, heated electric front seats, cruise control, keyless entry and start system, rain sensing windscreen wipers and auto dimming rear view mirror.
Sport adds 10-spoke 18-inch alloys, mesh lower grille, bigger rear spoiler, new front bumper side skirts, and chromed bodyside garnishes and fog lamp bezels.
The all-wheel drive system is pivotal safety boost, and partners the usual suite of safety gear such as six airbags, ABS brakes with electronic brake distribution, stability and traction control.
This medium-size genre has a few bland offerings, so the key rivals come from the likes of the Subaru Liberty 2.5i Sports sedan ($39,490), Mazda6 Luxury Sedan ($40,905) and Honda Accord Euro Luxury ($43,290).
While sedans don't boast the flexibility of SUVs, families, couples and singles alike will find plenty to like about the Sport.
There is ample room for five (can be a squeeze for three adults across the back seat) and the boot is impressively large.
The back seats do fold for additional cargo space.
The all-wheel drive version is heavier on the juice. You can flick a button on the dash to revert back to two-wheel drive on the highway for marginal consumption gains, but most drivers will average about 8.5 litres per 100 kilometres.
One advantage of the non-turbo engine is decreased insurance premiums, which should be reasonable for this model.
On the Kizashi catwalk, there is no denying the Sport is the prettiest of all.
The additional exterior treatment, lower suspension set-up and the chrome touches give the Sport a tough and athletic presence.
First impressions of the Kizashi two-wheel drive were impressive, and not much has changed with the Sport derivative.
Great interior, even better looks and awesome all-round comfort.
But you can't help but be slightly disappointed with the performance. There is no gain in the 0-100km sprint time, and with the brilliant grip levels the sportier drivers long for extra grunt.
If the turbocharged model gets the nod, power will be boosted to 179kW and 330Nm, or nearly 40%. That may cost another $10,000. It's a big jump, but it might take the car to a level of which it is capable.
Model: Suzuki Kizashi Sport AWD.
Details: Four-door all-wheel drive mid-size luxury sedan.
Engine: 2.4-litre DOHC in-line four cylinder generating maximum power 131kW @ 6500 rpm and peak torque of 230Nm @ 4000 rpm.
Transmission: Six-speed continuously various automatic with steering wheel-mounted paddles for tiptronic-style changes.
Consumption: 8.4 litres per 100km.
Bottom line: $39,990.