Kizashi – when Suzuki went large!
One of Suzuki GB’s hardest-working key members of staff is Alun Parry, a veritable powerhouse of a Public Relations executive. He telephoned me one day, in early-2012, and asked if I would like to have a close-up look and drive of a new D-segment model. Naturally, my curiosity is seldom sated and ‘Yes’ was the response.
While at the smaller end of the medium sector spectrum (4.65m in length), the lovely-looking, four-door Kizashi model seemed to be right-sized and was exceptionally well-specified. This was the first of 500 examples allocated to the UK and was pitched at around £23,000.
Featuring seven airbags (including one for the driver’s knees), all leather upholstery, electric memory front seats, with three position heating, a central touch-screen complete with sat-nav, an electric glass sunroof, cruise and climate controls and a corking hi-fi system, the cabin was a most inviting place to reside. For students of Japanese, Kizashi defines as a ‘sign of great things to come’; it had already been on sale in Japan for the best part of three years.
Its stylistically engaging exterior was designed from the ground-up to be a head-turner but driving the car revealed typical Suzuki traits. Its steering was surgically precise. Its ride and handling envelope was sheer perfection, providing comfortable deportment allied to compliant roll-resistance, first-class stability and crisp dynamics. Exceptionally rigid body design allowed the springs and dampers to work properly, while reducing bulk with the use of ultra-lightweight alloy wheels, aluminium suspension and all-round disc brakes, derived by Akebono from the renowned Japanese ‘Bullet Train’, were technological firsts.
However, its drivetrain was from another league. Displacing 2.4-litres across four cylinders, the engine developed 175bhp and around 170lbs ft of torque. Its CO2 emissions were stated as 191g/km, while its Official Combined fuel figure was given as 34.0mpg, neither of which would be acceptable as posted figures these days, as a measure of how far engine technology has come in less than a decade. However, as the engine was mated to a Constantly Variable Transmission (CVT), complete with steering column-mounted paddle shifters that provided five pseudo gear ratios (not bad for a belt-driven, gearless transmission, as well as reactive four-wheel drive, perhaps the figures were not so bad after all. By the way, Kizashi could top 130mph and despatch the 0-60mph benchmark in a mere 8.0s.
Kizashi was hugely impressive but, limited availability would ensure that it would never be a best-seller in a market sector that was already shrinking in leaps and bounds. If you can find an example today, while hardly a ‘classic car’, it will be exceedingly good value, totally dependable and a delight to drive and ride in.
Luscombe’s summary: Our largest model today is a toss-up between Vitara and S-Cross, which is as much a sign of how the new car market has changed, as Suzuki’s self-knowledge, as a leading exponent of the compact car arena.
Next week: Vitara, a car with a multi-purpose past
Suzuki’s dual-camera ‘extra’ eyes
Increasingly, new Suzukis are responsible for introducing advanced technology that is designed to help protect us, highlights Iain Robertson, and ‘Dual Camera Brake Support’ is fitted to Swift, Ignis and Jimny models in SZ5 trim.
In some respects, I have always feared the march of certain aspects of automotive technology. We are so cosseted these days at the controls of our new cars, with air-bags and air-curtains designed to lessen the ‘human ragdoll’ effects inherent to some types of car crashes. Every new car launched is subjected to NCap crash testing and star ratings are issued as a measure of potential survival rates.
Ironically, were we to drive better and more circumspectively, antilock brakes, stability control, distance cruise and even ‘safety cell’ construction would prove unnecessary. Cars would be lighter, more fuel efficient and less expensive. However, human nature being what it is, while accidents should be avoidable, some bumps become inevitable and we simply pile into them, as any drive along a snow, ice, or seasonally fog-bound main road might illustrate…and, of course, it is ‘never’ your fault!
The busier our roads become, with most households boasting at least two cars, contrasting starkly with one-in-three families owning just one car in the early-1960s, one of the greatest perils lies in the conditioning effect of queue-motoring. Unless the driver is thinking constantly about the distance to the vehicle ahead, it is easy to be lulled into concertina clashes that are not dissimilar to tumbling dominoes.
Suzuki worked in close association with Hitachi, the Japanese electronics giant, to design a compact forward monitoring system. In fact two different systems were developed, a more-costly type using milliwave radar is employed on SZ5 specifications of Baleno, Vitara and S-Cross models, while Swift, Ignis and Jimny use what is known as a Dual Camera Brake Support system. With sensors located in the windscreen, behind the rear-view mirror, they provide an early warning of obstructions (including vehicles, pedestrians and larger animals), followed by an early brakes application and, should the driver not react to either, the autonomous braking function will step in to save the day.
The systems work in conjunction with distance cruise, although the former demands that the windscreen be clean for effective operation, while the latter works in any condition.
Luscombe’s summary: The latest versions of the Vitara also feature Blind Sport mitigation in the door mirrors, which warn of overtaking vehicles that might not have been spotted by the driver.
Next week: Suzuki’s winning ways
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