2012 Suzuki Kizashi Sport Road Test Review

Jon Rosner - CAP staff
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Located in Colorado Springs Colorado the Pike's Peak Hillclimb or "The Race to the Clouds" has 156 turns rising 438 metres over 20 kilometres. It's a Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) event, second oldest motorsports race in the US. BIG time stuff.

The race has been run since 1916. 2011 was an important year and saw dozens of classes contested by 150 competitors. Why was the 2011 run so important? Because the 2012 running of "The Race to the Clouds" will be on pavement all the way to the 4,300-metre summit. No more gravel roads, no more huge dust clouds, less treacherous, fangs extracted.

The winning time in 1916 was posted by Rea Lentz driving a Romano Eight at 20:55.40. Drivers from the Andrettis to the Unsers and Rod Millen have run vehicles based on cars from virtually every auto manufacturer worth its salt. No person ~ no car had ever breached the ten minute mark ~ in 95 years of trying ~ in spite of the many running purebred race cars designed only for Pikes Peak with engines generating upwards of 1,000 horsepower.

On June 26th 2011, Nabuhiro "Monster" Tajima blew the record books to bits with a run of 9 minutes 51.278 seconds driving a 910 horsepower Suzuki SX-4 Hillclimb Special. Given that there will be no more gravel, no more radical changes in surface, 2012 will be a very different race.

The underdog driver Nabuhiro "Monster" Tajima won in the underdog Suzuki SX-4 Hillclimb Special. The Race to the Clouds was unforgiving and could be deadly, winning did not come from luck, it came from thorough preparation and incredible driving skills.

The 2012 Suzuki Kizashi SE has an understated conservative presence. The windshield sits flush with the body. A clean curve sweeps up from the base of the windshield to the trunk. The gaps between panels are small and uniform, the paint has no orange peel as is all too common today. The rich blue exterior of my tester gave way to a tan leather interior. A premium near-luxury Nice interior design and extremely good quality for a mainstream automaker, the Kizashi is a cut above. (Photo: Suzuki)
offering, the upscale interior clearly a step above the competition. Plenty of room in front for six-footers in very supportive and comfortable seats. Slightly less headroom in the back as the car is in between a Corolla and a Camry in size. Soft touch materials throughout that fit well with nicely matching colours. Thoughtful touches abound, like sunshade extenders that block the light to simplified radio and heater controls. Stylish yes, and a really, really long list of standard features that are normally found on most everyone else's options list. High-level Volkswagen or Audi attention to details. But this is a driver's car.

A light tip-in of the throttle produces thrust that makes its four feel like a six. 2,692-mm wheelbase, front wheel drive, seats for five. For all the world it felt like a descendant of the legendary BMW 2002 in that it has a superb ride, control, clear feedback through the steering and a balanced chassis. Pushed to the limit the suspension gave and the tires squealed, but at levels far beyond what was logical or prudent for back roads. Nimble moves needed to extract oneself from the locked groupings of commuter traffic were easily achieved. Akebono calipers made the initial bite of the brakes grabby, but were easy to modulate.

The U.S. EPA has rated the stick at the metric equivalent of 11.7/8.1 city/hwy and the CVT automatic at 10.2/7.8 (Canadian figures are less conservatively estimated at 9.3 and 6.8 for the CVT, and there's no manual offered here anymore). There is even a Hill Holder feature and all models are all-wheel drive for 2012. With the six-speed manual tranny tested in the U.S., we saw gas consumption coming in at just under 8.7 L/100km on regular fuel with the 62.8-litre tank. Surprisingly good considering this driver pushed along at a good clip (just testing to see if the car could really hit 100km/h in 7.6 seconds) in both around Motorcycle-style primary gauges look fabulous! (Photo: Suzuki)
town and highway driving. This from a 2.4-litre four-banger pumping out 185 horses at 6,500 rpm with a strong 170 foot-pounds of torque at 4,000 rpm. Not quite what Nabuhiro "Monster" Tajima had in his SX-4 Hillclimb Special, but then do you really want vacuum cleaner levels of fuel pumping power resulting in the need to call the bank for a loan every time you fill the tank?

Supple handling combined with 18-inch alloy wheels on 235/4518 Dunlop low-profile all-season tires made clean work of a few difficult roads and made driving a joy. There are even three positions for the fanny warmers that came with the leather bound seats. Um-mm.... warmth on a cold and rainy day. The only pain was that it took a while for the defroster to pull the fog off the side windows and the side mirrors had to be wiped. Hey, sometimes you have to tough it out.

The Kizashi has been the highest ranked vehicle among midsize cars in the JD Power & Associates' APEAL study. The Kizashi has also been recognized by AutoPacific as tops in consumer satisfaction, two years in a row. Word of mouth and very solid press reviews gave the Kizashi a foothold in the market when launched last year. More so, this scribe has yet to meet an engineer or penny-pincher that doesn't like the idea of a zero maintenance timing chain that should last the life of the engine. I.E. no 100,000 to 200,000 km $1,000 timing belt change needed.

The tie-in to "Monster" Tajima and his record smashing Suzuki SX-4 to the Suzuki Kizashi is simple. Both demonstrated an extraordinary attention to the smallest details that make a winner. What should have been a wildly successful product was allowed to flounder because of a lack of advertising. Suzuki has just stated a real advertising campaign for the Kizashi. And it's about time.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Sedan, Suzuki, 2012, Kizashi, $20,000 - $29,999, $30,000 - $39,999, Midsize,

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page