2011 Suzuki Kizashi Sport SLS new car reviews

Meet the Kizashi. Looks a bit like a VW, drives a bit like a Mazda.

Better than: Suzuki Aerio
But not as good as: Suzuki GSX-R (maybe)
GRM Bang For The Buck Index: 82.54

Suzuki has been making cars for years, but for the most part they've been viewed as being a step below the big Japanese brands. Sure, they offer a lot of bang for the buck, but they aren't going to woo the masses from their Camrys and Accords. The Kizashi is going to help change that opinion.

The production Kizashi may not be as radical as the concept cars that preceded it, but the brand's first midsize U.S. release comes nicely equipped: a roomy interior, lots of shiny bits, and some very modern styling. Our test car even featured an unexpected treat: a manual six-speed transmission.

The only options listed for our Sport SLS test car were the premium floor mats ($125), metallic paint ($130) and XM radio ($350). Everything else, including the 18-inch tires, 10-way power seat, leather interior and Rockford Fosgate sound system, came standard. The base Kizashi starts at $18,999, and all-wheel drive is an option.

Other staff views

Tom Heath Tom Heath
UberDork

The Suzuki Kizashi strikes me as just about the nicest entry level car one could ask for. The suspension and chassis dynamics seemed a little on the soft side for an enthusiast, but no worse than some of the car's peers in the marketplace. The interior finish and material were decidedly higher end than I had expected. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the Kizashi to a friend, but for my money I'd look for something more sport-focused. For daily driver duty, the Kizashi seems like a winning package, especially at this price point.

Per Schroeder Per Schroeder
PowerDork

Wow, what a nice solid car. Plenty of pep, solid-feeling suspension and a very nice interior. If I were to guess, I'd say that Suzuki tried to make an Acura TSX for considerably less money—and they succeeded. Unfortunately, it's got a limited number of variations for options—you can't get a manual with the all-wheel-drive and anything with leather has to come with a sunroof. I realize that I'm on the fringe, but man, that's frustrating for such a nice car.

Scott Lear Scott Lear

Sometimes a car provides genuine surprise. I'd never even heard of the Kizashi until it rolled up in our parking lot for the week: it's an attractive automobile, one that obviously borrows more from the Germans than its Japanese peers in the general styling department. That holds true in the interior as well, which is more Audi/VW than Honda or Toyota. Ours did have the available manual gearbox, but everything in this car, including the shifting experience, was designed to be soft.

That's not our preferred mode, necessarily, but kudos to the Suzuki engineers for crafting the car so well that its softness is noticeable in a good way. The appreciation turns to frustration when you start to push the car--it rolls excessively and doesn't have much in the way of inspired thrust at full throttle--but driven like a "normal" car, the Kizashi is a really pleasant way to get from point A to point B.

David S. Wallens David S. Wallens
Editorial Director

Wow, I really enjoyed it: very nice interior, good seats, plenty of go, smooth six-speed box and really nice styling. Yeah, it look a bit like a Jetta, but that's an attractive car.

If there's any nitpicks, it had just a bit too much chrome for me. Maybe make the trim satin and it's a 10. The steering also felt a little numb off-center, but that seems to be common these days.

Is this your next autocross or track car? If you need a daily driver for a small family and want to shop new, this one is worth a look. No, it's not going to outrun a WRX or Evo, but it's a great effort from Suzuki.

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Comments

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nderwater
nderwater PowerDork
11/16/10 8:56 a.m.

I'll take your word on this one ...but is the Kizashi really one and a half stars better than the Mazda 3s you guys just reviewed?

4cylndrfury
4cylndrfury MegaDork
11/16/10 12:45 p.m.

Id really like to see a comparo with a more sporty version of the Kizashi vs a MS3 or a sported up Altima/Maxima (though I know the Maxima is in a higher class). I momentarily looked away from what I was doing when they talked about the SX series from Suzuki. Now, with some of the press this car is getting, Im starting to really take notice.

integraguy
integraguy UltraDork
11/16/10 9:30 p.m.

There are 2 Suzuki dealers in my area (Memphis, Tn.) and between them they have about 5 or 6 Kizashis (that name puts me in mind of Greek food). Anyway, only 1 car with the 6 speed, and it's the "base/basic" model, without the cruise I want, and all cars are silver.

I realize Suzuki is a smaller player here in this country, but their marketing needs A LOT more work.

alleghenyman
alleghenyman New Reader
11/17/10 9:10 p.m.

I've had a base model with a 6 speed for 4 months and 6000 miles. Handling is excellent - the suspension is a tad soft but it's so well-balanced that there is very little dive, under steer or secondary body motions when driven aggressively. The engine is not super-powerful but it gets out of its own way, the gear ratios are spaced well enough that it can accelerate well and cruise well on the highway. Brakes are great too. Altogether, it feels like a FWD E46 328i sedan. I am planning on autocrossing it just for kicks - it's no FWD M3 but the suspension and engineering generally are very well done.

neon4891
neon4891 UltimaDork
10/27/12 10:46 p.m.

Locally there is a new '12 base, 6spd in white for $15k

So tempting.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
12/10/13 12:00 a.m.

Suzuki has been making cars for years, but for the most part they've been viewed as being a step below the big Japanese brands. Sure, they offer a lot of bang for the buck, but they aren't going to woo the masses from their Camrys and Accords. The Kizashi is going to help change that opinion.

The production Kizashi may not be as radical as the concept cars that preceded it, but the brand's first midsize U.S. release comes nicely equipped: a roomy interior, lots of shiny bits, and some very modern styling. Our test car even featured an unexpected treat: a manual six-speed transmission.

The only options listed for our Sport SLS test car were the premium floor mats ($125), metallic paint ($130) and XM radio ($350). Everything else, including the 18-inch tires, 10-way power seat, leather interior and Rockford Fosgate sound system, came standard. The base Kizashi starts at $18,999, and all-wheel drive is an option.

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