New Sasol GTC cars set for thrills

The iconic Grand Prix Circuit will present a new challenge to the GTC drivers as they tackle the country’s fastest racetrack on June 16.

Suzuki’s new Swift hatch and sedan in SA

Suzuki kicks off its new model assault with an all new Swift hatchback and standalone sedan called the Dzire.

Suzuki stirs with Kizashi sedan

2011-08-12 15:02


HELLO, HANDSOME: Suzuki's all-new Kizashi is ready to take a stab at the sedan segment. Image gallery

Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Suzuki
Engine 2.4L VVT
Power 131kW at 6500rpm
Torque 230Nm at 4000rpm
Transmission six-speed manual or CVT
Zero To Hundred 7.8sec (m)/ 8.8sec (CVT)
Top Speed 215kph (m)/ 205kph (CVT)
Fuel Tank 63 litres
Boot Size 461 litres
Steering rack and pinion
ABS with EBD and ESP
Airbags six
Tyres 235/45R18
Front Suspension MacPherson strut
Rear Suspension Multi link
Price R295 900 (m)/ R310 900 (CVT)
Kizashi... Rolls off the tongue quite easily, doesn’t it?

This ease is something Suzuki hopes to put to good use as its huge (by Suzuki standards) sedan prepares to make inroads into the heavily contested family sedan market.

The cute little Swift has undoubtedly done much to bolster Suzuki SA’s fortunes (the latest generation of the hatchback was launched in South Africa in March, 2011), but the company hopes its Kizashi will now steer it upmarket into segments unknown.

The all-new Kizashi has just arrived in South Africa and is their “fastest production car launched here”, Suzuki Auto SA’s national marketing manager Francois van Eeden gushed at the introductory press event.

This tidbit is not surprising, given little cars and SUVs such as the Alto, Swift and Jimny have over the years cemented Suzuki’s global status. But why step away from the familiar to try something new? Well, as it turns out, Suzuki wanted to offer something families and young executives could view as an alternative to the standard family sedan fare; as a first attempt at a sedan the Japanese brand is not doing badly at all.

Pleasing to look at, there is a definite family resemblance in the frontal treatment with the rounded bonnet edge and the stylised 'S' sitting prettily on the mesh grille. The profile follows conventional three-box sedan form, although the “integrated boot spoiler” that rises from the boot lid and houses the additional brake light is a neat touch.

CABIN FEVER: The cabin finishes mix soft and harder textures.


There’s not much in the way of variety, though, with the SA Kizashi range getting one model using a tweaked version of the 2.4-litre, four-cylinder seen in the Grand Vitara with a choice of either six-speed manual or continuously variable transmission (CVT). Four metallic colours – silver, grey, white and red – are available.

But driving the car (yes, even with a CVT) proved a rather pleasant experience.

Perhaps it was the result of constant chatter in the car between my driving partner and I but the characteristic CVT drone went mostly unnoticed and was only really discernible when pulling away from stops. Also worth noting is the apparent lack of breathless revving into the stratosphere when performing an overtaking manouvre.

However, those accustomed to a CVT or those not too concerned by its idiosyncrasies should be fine. There are five modes for varying conditions, including Normal, which is the most fuel-efficient, and a Downhill mode that employs engine braking. Handily, the modes are automatically selected so all you, as the driver, need do is steer, apply the throttle, and brake. Should you see fit, you could probably slap the gearshift towards you, or flick the steering-mounted paddles, for some manual-like moves.

The six-speed manual is likely to be the one to get with its reassuringly soft gear action.

Despite the 131-kW billing on the 2.4-litre engine, there didn't seem to be any urgency or edginess from the powerplant on a route that took us through sections of the North West province, although overtaking acceleration (when required) was definitely up to standard.

FROM SCRATCH: Styling the automaker's first "luxury" sedan must have been rather liberating for Suzuki's designers.


And that’s not the only thing that’s soft on the Kizashi.

The ride, although its makers say has a sportier attitude, felt decidedly family-orientated to me. There’s a touch of sport (with enough grip and solidity to not make you wonder as you zip through a bend a bit too quickly whether a pile of understeer will signal your undoing) and a lot of comfort (even on some treacherous North-West province roads with scary-looking potholes). Urban warriors need not worry about the comfort levels, especially in those leather-clad seats.

The Kizashi rides on Macpherson struts with a cradle-like frame up front; the rear it is suspended by a multi-link arrangement.

The evenness of the steering and the feedback provided through it, particularly on faster sections, was reassuring. As a bonus, the brakes on the cars I drove on the launch (Kizashi is fitted with ventilated discs on the front axle and solid discs at the rear) were comfortingly sharp; ABS with EBD and ESP are standard, as are Kizashi’s six airbags.

However, since Suzuki punts the Kizashi as a luxury sedan, it would probably also be keen to boast the car’s comfort features. Starting on the outside, projector head and fog lights are standard. There are front and rear parking sensors; keyless entry and go are standard, too.

There's a leather-covered steering wheel with controls for audio and cruise control and the audio system takes CD's and MP3's. The driver and front passenger seats has power adjustment.
Beefy 18” alloys complete the external look and a full-size spare is housed in the boot.


The Kizashi, at first acquaintance, seems compelling, but whether its fellow C-segment competitors (think Toyota Corolla or Volkswagen Jetta, or, at the higher end Honda Accord and Mazda6) should be concerned, remains to be seen.

Of course, Suzuki is hardly a novice to the vehicle manufacturing game and the Kizashi’s build quality feels solid to match its secure ride and handling. The added padding in the (very quiet) cabin along with the leather swathed across the facia signals the intention to move Kizashi up a notch from its smaller and more utilitarian brethren, although those buying down from larger or more executive offerings (indeed, Suzuki Auto SA is targeting those buyers, too) may be accustomed to finishes that a touch more refined.  

But this sedan’s nomenclature in Japanese apparently means "a sign of great things to come" and this may well be a symbolic statement for Suzuki Auto SA which will, by the end of 2011, have extended its dealer network from 25 to 31.

Prices for the Kizashi include a three-year or 100 000km warranty, a six-year or 90 000km service plan and a three-year roadside assistance programme. They are:
Kizashi 2.4 manual  -  R295 900
Kizashi 2.4 CVT  -  R310 900


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