Why the Suzuki Kizashi Didn't Deserve to Fail
An overlooked compact saloon that deserved great success
Suzuki Kizashis are rare. Merely 4,667 were sold in Europe between 2010 and 2017 and 20,113 in America. Compare that to the Honda Civic; in the same time frame, Honda sold about 300,000 of them in Europe and more than a million in America. Why did it fail? Suzuki only offered a petrol engine that delivered worse acceleration and efficiency as well as more C02 than competitors. Also, it only came as a saloon, which is the least popular body style in it's size class. Suzuki estimated that they would sell only 500 in its first year. Why did they make, it then, if they predicted poor sales anyway?
For the past 20 years, Suzuki had been making mediocre cars that never really stood out. America had recently been treated to the Verona, Forenza, and Reno, rebadged Daewoo Evanda, Nubira, and Lacetti models. Europe had gotten the Grand Vitara, SX4, and Splash. The only real highlights were the Swift and Swift Sport. Suzuki wanted to show the world that they could produce something that was truly great, and the Kizashi was just that.
Look at those tailpipes!
The car's chassis was engineered to make the car fun to drive. Thanks to its light weight and short wheelbase, the car was agile and easy to throw around. Its steering was firm and communicative and the available AWD kept grip at a maximum. However, Kizashis had a tendency to understeer when pushed hard, but overall the car was responsive.
Also responsive but more surprisingly was the CVT. The CVT mimicked actual gears and even had paddle shifters to select one of the six fake gears. When the car wasn't being pushed, paddle-induced shifts were rather slow, but responses became quicker when driven enthusiastically.
It wasn't just the driving experience that made the Kizashi spectacular. Inside, the car had decent material quality, but the build quality was excellent. Ergonomic issures were nonexistent and the rear seat was surprisingly spacious for a compact, though the vertically gifted may find it a bit snug.
Lastly, another Kizashi virtue was it's value. £21,995 brought all-round electric windows, privacy glass, seven airbags, an eight-speaker audio system, Bluetooth, USB connectivity, cruise control, keyless entry, a dual-zone climate system, and heated leather power front seats.
The car's name likewise was a good choice. "Kizashi" can mean "something good is coming", "omen", or "sign". The Kizashi preceded Suzuki's recent renaissance of great products, especially the Vitara, Ignis, and Jimny.
Fun to drive, reliable, stylish, comfortable, and value-packed, the Suzuki Kizashi is a wonderful vehicle that didn't deserve poor sales.