2011 Suzuki Kizashi Sport SLS
You may recall that the Mercury Division of Ford Motor Company was running a series of TV advertisements with an attractive young woman would end by saying, “You’ve got to put Mercury on your list.” Well, Jill Wagner’s winsomeness notwithstanding, Mercury got put on a list all right, but just not the one that people affiliated with the division would have liked.
So since there’s not much of a likelihood that Mercury is going to be running those spots—or any spots—anytime soon, I’d like to recommend to the people who do Suzuki Automotive’s advertising (I’m actually not sure whether there is anyone who does that, which is the point that I’m sort of getting to) that they pick up that line, but swap out, of course, the words Mercury and Suzuki.
Getting on a shopper’s list nowadays is essential. And the comparative invisibility of Suzuki in the U.S. market isn’t doing that company any favors. As has been previously mentioned in this space, with the Kizashi (evidently this is a Japanese word that means “signs,” and you might be thinking, “What the heck does that have to do with a sedan?”, and while I agree that it doesn’t trip off the tongue and would probably be better off with a less, um, exotic name (“Say Sally, what’s that new car you bought?” “It’s a Suzuki Kizashi, Bill.” “No, your car, not what you had for lunch at the sushi place today, Sally”), you don’t drive a name), Suzuki deserves some attention. It is a good midsize car. Surprisingly good.
This is a new variant. And it is sporty, with a 2.4-liter engine that provides, when fitted, as the one Driven did, a six-speed manual, 185-hp and 170 lb-ft of torque, which is more than enough to get after that grocery run. Because it is, after all, undoubtedly the kind of car that is going to appeal to someone with a young family rather than someone who is saving up for a new set of rims, the sportiness of the additions to the base model are there yet somewhat discrete. For example, the inside is fitted with leather, including on the steering wheel and as the shifter boot. There are body side sill extensions, a trunk-mounted spoiler that doesn’t’ scream “Hey! I’ve got a spoiler on my car!”, a modified front fascia that looks more aggro than the standard version, and 18-in. alloy wheels. For those who are really discerning: The car is lowed by 10 mm. Whether you’re going to discover the consequences of that while commuting up I-75 is probably iffy at most, but according to the people at Suzuki, the rigid steel unibody with its reinforced front suspension and multilink rear suspension has been “validated on Germany’s Autobahn, Switzerland’s Alpine hairpins, the cobblestone roads of rural England and”—wait for it—“the legendary Nürburgring.” I can testify to its capabilities in and around southeastern Michigan.
Admittedly, overall the midsize sedan segment is being populated with some really improved cars, from both U.S.-based and international sources. But this one really needs to get on your list, spreadsheet, iPhone, or whatever when you’re shopping for one.
Engine: 2.4-liter DOHC four
Horsepower: 185 @ 6,500 rpm (w/manual trans)
Torque: 170 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Wheelbase: 106.3 in.
Length: 183.1 in.
Width: 71.7 in.
Height: 58.3 in.
Fuel economy: 20 mpg city; 29 mpg highway