Suzuki Kizashi EcoCharge hints at hybrid future

The Suzuki Kizashi sedan may eventually get an electric efficiency boost. At least, that's what the EcoCharge concept seems to imply.

The Suzuki Kizashi EcoCharge concept trades a bit of gasoline engine displacement for an electric engine and li-ion battery.
The Suzuki Kizashi EcoCharge concept trades a bit of gasoline engine displacement for an electric engine and li-ion battery. Sarah Tew/CNET

Suzuki's Kizashi is a solidly performing midsize sedan. It produces a reasonable amount of power. It's not terribly efficient, but also not particularly inefficient. There's not much to complain about when it comes to the Kizashi, but not much room for praise either. At the 2011 New York auto show, Suzuki pushed its lovably meh sedan in two very different directions with two very different Kizashi concepts.

The Kizashi EcoCharge concept aims to increase fuel efficiency by as much as 25 percent over the standard Kizashi Sport. It starts by reducing its gasoline engine displacement from 2.4 liters to 2.0 liters--a good first step, but it doesn't stop there. Next, Suzuki's engineers added a liquid-cooled induction electric motor/generator unit and lithium ion battery system to the mix, which contributes as much as 15 ponies to the EcoCharge's 144-horsepower, 127 pound-feet of torque output. Helping the hybrid to reach its 25 percent efficiency gain (coming to about 36 mpg hwy by our estimates) are other efficiency technologies such as engine start-stop, regenerative braking, and low-rolling resistance tires.

Suzuki claims a 25% boost in fuel efficiency over the standard Kizashi.
Suzuki claims a 25% boost in fuel efficiency over the standard Kizashi. Sarah Tew/CNET

The Suzuki Apex concept heads in the exact opposite direction, with a turbo and more power.
The Suzuki Apex concept heads in the exact opposite direction, with a turbo and more power. Sarah Tew/CNET

On the other end of the spectrum is the Kizashi Apex concept, which answers our prayers for a turbocharged variant. A Garrett turbo adding up to 8.5 psi of boost elevates the Apex's estimated output to the 275-300 horsepower range. Other go-fast goodies include an air-to-liquid intercooler, 19-inch wheels shod with sticky Yokohama tires, and a graphic scheme inspired by Suzuki's racing motorcycles. Okay, that last one doesn't actually help the Kizashi Apex go any faster, but even we have to admit that it's pretty cool.

 

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