When you see only a Suzuki badge on the bootlid and not Maruti Suzuki, you know it’s a direct import. Maruti Suzuki is being very conservative with the Kizashi – it’s a new segment for them and they have not had a good experience with the Grand Vitara. And they are not happy with the sales of the SX4 either – though other manufacturers would be happy with the figures that Maruti Suzuki manages! So, instead of wasting their plant’s capacities on assembling a low-volume product, they have decided to import the Kizashi.
If you book one, it will take you about two months for delivery. And you have a choice of only three colours (black, silver and white), so that Maruti can avoid complex logistics. With the Kizashi, Maruti Suzuki is testing the premium waters. Is it a coincidence that Kizashi means ‘a sign of good things to come’?
It’s a good looking car, all right. Okay, you can be harsh by saying that it looks like a grown-up SX4, but that still doesn’t mean it is bad looking. But in black and silver, it does not have as much presence on the road (it looks smaller than it really is) – the white one is better in that sense. The Kizashi has got the right amounts of aggression and sportiness built into it. It has some strong features, like a pronounced waistline, nicely fitting 215/55 R17 rubber and twin exhausts with stainless steel covers. It also comes with these good-looking alloy wheels that look best when it’s on the move. The bootlid with the inbuilt spoiler is a bit in-your-face, but if millions of Indians could get used to the Dzire’s boot, then this is nothing.
In terms of dimensions, the Kizashi is longer and wider than the Toyota Corolla and the Honda Civic, but its wheelbase is closer to the Civic’s than the Corolla’s. So in terms of positioning, it fits between the Civic/Corolla and the Accord/Camry.
Once I criticised the Grand Vitara for sharing the parts bin with the rest of the Suzukis and yet wearing a hefty Rs 15 lakh price tag. Well, no problems on that front with the Kizashi. It is nicely appointed – I loved the perforated leather seats with electronic controls and memory settings. The beige sections of the dash are padded and the switchgear – I am happy to report – is unique to the car. The central display is right out of one of those high-end hi-fis and is well laid out too. The overall quality and fit and finish is something we are not used to in Suzukis made in India, so be prepared to be surprised. Rear legroom is a little wanting however.
...and the handling too. The Kizashi’s underpinnings are engineered to match its sporty sedan attributes very well. Combined with the superb Yokohama rubber, the handling is quite phenomenal. Grip levels are awesome and you can corner without breaking into a sweat. The ESP is not too intrusive and lets you have your share of fun. Decreasing radius corners are not much of a bother for this car, even at three-digit speeds – it just simply goes. The ride is quite settled; though it’s not plush, it does reasonably well in keeping the rough stuff away. The steering feel goes with the sporty sedan attributes and it is indeed BMW 3 Series-like in terms of feel – now that’s saying a lot. It’s a car that rewards the driver – so if you’re considering buying it, you know what to do.