Maruti Suzuki Kizashi – Preview

India’s largest car manufacturer Maruti Suzuki is known more for its small cars and when they try to launch a staid but competent product like the Baleno and price it close to its competitor, Honda City’s territory, it was bound to fail. But then Maruti realized their mistake and got out the SX4. It was priced lower than the Honda City, but had features as well as engine comparable to the Honda. It sold like hot cakes and still does. Buoyed by its success, Maruti decided to launch a Honda Accord and Toyota Camry competitor. Now, this may seem a rash decision and one that will certainly spell the doom for Maruti however the Suzuki Kizashi, was launched earlier in Japan and North America to check the customers reaction. The car literally stole the limelight in all the markets that it was launched. This seems to be a good start and now Maruti looks set to change its image in the Indian consumers minds. The name would be carried across to India and there would be strange responses from all your colleagues asking you to repeat the name of your car.

Looks

The Maruti Suzuki Kizashi in India would be the flagship model of the Suzuki family and it carries the corporate grill for the family face. Its Audiesque grill looks familiar to the Swift and the SX4. It is split by the bumper cladding and below, it houses the air dam. The face somewhat resembles a U shape. The air dam is also split by the U. It carries two diamond shaped fog lamps in it. From the very stance of the vehicle or even the name{it means “upto something”}, it screams aggressive. Strangely, the fog lamps are placed just above the fog lamps, something which is new to the Indian as well as foreign markets. The head lamps are a piece of work having multi-reflectors and clear lens. They would, by far, be the most powerful units in their class and also first in their class to have day time running LEDs.

Moving on to the side profile, it is devoid of any quarter glass except for the rear window. The car somewhat shrinks from the side view. However its sporty multi spoke alloy wheels look stunning and scream sporty and subtle at the same time. The wheel arches aren’t flared and this shows its conservative nature. Maruti are probably trying to hide sportiness with the conventional family sedan looks. The wing mirrors are also huge but don’t have the indicator lights embedded in them.

The rear is the most interesting part of the Suzuki Kizashi. In the past, we have noticed Maruti’s with good looking faces but the plot seems to be lost when they come to the back side. The Maruti Suzuki Kizashi begs to differ. It seems to be derived from the new BMW 1 series. The stop lamp is not placed atop the rear window but above the boot lid. The boot lid sports a spoiler like bump. Overall, the Kizashi looks hewn from a single sheet of metal. The Tamburini pipe like silencers, coated in chrome look every part from a sports car. Mind you, there are two separate pieces. The use of side skirts all around also help in the sporty theme of the car.

Interiors

The low slung interiors would welcome you and the seats would hug you like an old lover. The interiors are unlike any Maruti in the country and this is to be expected, as this is the flag ship model. Even the quality of materials used is un-Maruti like. Everything has a premium feel to it and not one plastic looks out of place. The US and European spec cars sport leather seats but this may be ditched from the Indian market scene as leather seats get very hot in our climate. A more useful polyvinyl Leatherette would be used. A high end feature of the Kizashi is that it would come standard with keyless entry as well as keyless ignition.

Driver’s as well as co-passenger’s seats are heated and have a 10 way adjustable and programmable memory. The steering wheel is a three piece unit and looks similar to one from the Volkswagen Jetta. It is though bigger than the Volkswagen unit. It houses the usual audio, Bluetooth and cruise controls. The only let down that we felt, was in the dials of the car. They look too simple and a bit out of place with the sporty interiors. A more A-star like pop out rev counter would have helped. Other data like fuel efficiency, tripmeter, distance to empty details are shown by the digital interface housed between the rev counter and odometer.

The rear seats is which, is another disappointing feature. The rear passengers have their individual aircon controls. It has a center tunnel intrusion which makes life bit difficult for the middle passenger. The rear seats recline nicely and offer good under thigh support but it is best suited for only two passengers. Three upright would be quite intimate. This even though the Kizashi been wider than its competition. There are many cubby holes around the cabin as one would expect from a big sedan. The boot space is Camry rivaling at 525 liters. It has less suspension struts intrusion and has a lower loading lip. Plus factor in that the rear seats split and fold down completely to reveal about 1237 liters of space.

Handling and ride quality

The Kizashi is based on the Suzuki Swift platform and that isn’t a bad thing to start with. The Indian Swift handles like a dream, not to mention the numerous awards it has won world-wide. Expect the Kizashi to handle similar to its smaller cousin.

Across the globe, the Kizashi is said to have a handling which is in between the class leading Accord and the Mazda 6. Now, that is speaking volumes of its handling. Its ride is between that of the Camry and the Accord. This means that it rides well over all surfaces but the ride is a bit jiggly around the corners. The suspension is said to be more sophisticated than its competition and it upfront sports a Macpherson strut with coil springs while a Multi-link suspension does duties at the rear. Globally, the Kizashi is available in FWD and AWD but in India, it may sport only FWD.

The NVH has been taken care of by Maruti Suzuki making it one of the vehicles with the lowest NVH in its class. Automobile journalists across the world have applauded the near silent ride of the Suzuki.

Engine,Performance and fuel efficiency

The Kizashi would be launched in India with the only engine option that it is available world-wide with, the 2.4 liter 4 cylinder engine. It produces 185 hp at 6,300 rpm and 177 nm of torque at a low 3,800 rpm. It is a DOHC unit having 16 valves and an aluminium piston block head. This makes it a light engine and hence more powerful and fuel efficient. The gearbox used would be a sweet shifting 6 speed manual or a CVT transmission. Both the options would be available. The 3,240 pound sedan is said to cross the 0-100 kmph barrier in under 8 seconds. Now this speaks volumes of the engine’s tractability and powress.

Been a Maruti, expect fuel efficiency to be top notch. The Kizashi is touted to give 11 kmpl in the city and about 16 on the highway. Couple that with a 56 liters fuel tank and this gives you high range. This is  simply the best figures for a sedan in its class. Bringing in a diesel power plant may help bring the fuel bills down. Maruti may plonk in the 1.9 liter multi jet engine from Fiat into this car. Performance may be blunted but the upside is the running costs.

Braking is handled by discs all-round. The vented ones at the front with the solid ones at rear have a 4 channel ABS, EBD and traction control assisting them in retarding the motion of the car. Safety is also in a class of its own with 8 airbags been offered alongwith Rain-sensitive wipers, Adaptive cruise control, reverse camera and energy crumple zones.

Verdict

Suzuki have ventured into the premium luxury segment and this foray should be a marked success seeing the Kizashi’s capabilities. The very fact that it was shown in the Delhi Auto Expo 2010 says that it would be launched in India very soon. It has fuel economy to boot for, decent interiors, good safety and other features and above all a Maruti badge meaning that maintenance costs would be the lowest in its segment. The ride and handling is supposed to be the best in its class. The only factors working against it would be the Maruti badge, price point it would be pegged and the rear seat been not comfy enough to admit three.

The Maruti Suzuki Kizashi price might be between Rs.14-16 lakhs. Here are some Maruti Suzuki Kizashi specifications :

Technical specifications
ENGINE SPECIFICATIONS

Displacement: 2400cc, 4 Cylinder 16 valve DOHC

Engine Type: Petrol

Maximum Power: 185 Bhp

Maximum Torque: 177 Nm

DIMENSIONS

Length: 4660 mm

Width: 1910 mm

Height: 1460 mm

OTHER SPECIFICATIONS

Seating Capacity: 5

Tyre Size: 18″ Alloys

Suspension: Macpherson strut with coil springs at front and Multi-link suspension at the rear

Steering: Tilt and power assisted

Brakes: Front Ventilated disc and rear, solid disc

Gears: 6 Manual, CVT

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