Prospective owners can opt for an available all-wheel drive system that could potentially boost performance, but doing so also swaps in a continuously variable automatic transmission that would likely drain all the fun out of this mildly sporty sedan. We'd say skip it.
Regarding the Kizashi Sport SLS' interior appointments, about half of our passengers appreciated the Suzuki's leather-trimmed and heated seats, while the rest seemed to find the monochromatic black color scheme of our example car a bit dour, its high dashboard a bit claustrophobic. What we took away from our time with the Kizashi is that Suzuki spends its money in the right places, with fit and finish that are pleasing to the touch, if not to the eye. Our biggest complaint, however, was about the flat "sport seats," which, when combined with the SLS trim level's leather trim, provided very little lateral support during spirited driving. It may have been difficult to get the car's rear end to slide, but it certainly wasn't difficult to get the driver's to.
Standard at our Sport SLS trim level is Bluetooth connectivity for Hands-Free Profile (HFP) and audio streaming (A2DP). However, if you decide that you want to go with the optional touch-screen navigation system, the system will lose its A2DP functionality, which will leave Android and BlackBerry owners stuck with the analog auxiliary input for playing music stored on their handsets. That navigation package is also the only way to add a rearview camera to the tech mix, so perhaps it's not so bad a trade-off for iPhone or iPod owners.
Also standard on the Sport SLS is our old friend, the Rockford Fosgate 425-watt 10-speaker audio system with subwoofer. While still bass-heavy, the Kizashi's system isn't as overwhelmingly boomy as many of the Rockford Fosgate systems that we've tested, making it a good system for rock, pop, electronica, and rap. Fans of light jazz and delicate classical passages need not apply. However, if you're into waking the neighbors, it can be tuned to turn heads with its powerful low-end output. Audio sources include AM/FM radio, optional XM Satellite radio, a single-disk CD player, and a USB audio input with iPod connectivity. Browsing an iPod is handled with a large monochromatic dot-matrix display and a combination of buttons and knobs. It's not pretty and doesn't display very much information at any given time, but overall the system is fairly easy to use and quick to respond once you get the hang of it.
The 2011 Suzuki Kizashi Sport SLS is really only a refresh of a name and an image. Its cabin tech package is good, but not what we'd call standout. We're particularly put off by having to choose between Bluetooth audio streaming and navigation. Most cars add features as you step up, not lose them. We like that the handling, while not sports-car precise, is very communicative and responsive. Power and fuel economy are lackluster. We didn't really expect the automaker to overhaul the power train in one model year, but the fact is that those of you waiting for a turbocharged variant of Suzuki's sedan will simply have to keep waiting.
Our Sport SLS trim level starts at $24,699, which gets you that sport-tuned suspension, Bluetooth wireless, and the Rockford Fosgate system. Also included is an audible rear proximity sensor. Add $350 for XM satellite radio, $130 for Platinum Silver Metallic paint, and a $745 destination fee to reach our as-tested price of $25,924. If you don't care about wireless audio streaming, go ahead and add an additional $1,399 for the touch-screen navigation and backup camera package--that's what we'd do.
|Model||2011 Suzuki Kizashi|
|Power train||2.4-liter gasoline, FWD|
|EPA fuel economy||21 mpg city/29 mpg highway|
|Bluetooth phone support||Yes|
|Disc player||Single-disc CD/MP3|
|MP3 player support||USB/iPod, analog 3.5mm auxiliary input, Bluetooth A2DP stereo streaming|
|Other digital audio||XM satellite radio|
|Audio system||425-watt, 10-speaker Rockford Fosgate|
|Driver aids||Audible rear proximity sensor, optional backup camera|
|Price as tested||$25,924|