Nigel Donnelly

See other Blog articles filed in ‘Tow cars’ written by Nigel Donnelly
   
THERE CAN’T BE many more obscure cars than the Suzuki Kizashi. I’m not sure I’d even seen one in the metal until our test car arrived earlier in the week.

It’s a bit of oddball. There’s only one engine, a 2.4-litre petrol, in a market that’s dominated by diesels. What’s more, all Kizashis are saddled with a Continuously Variable Transmission – a kind of ’box that few drivers enjoy. And it’s a four-wheel drive (or it is once you’ve pressed the switch on the dash), a rarity in a saloon of this size.

The thirsty 2.4 lumbers the car with some pretty dire fuel economy and emissions figures. Expect 34mpg on the combined cycle, with a carbon dioxide output of 191g/km. The Suzuki sits in Band J for VED, with a standard rate bill of £250 per year. That’s not sending the Kizashi out to fight for sales with one arm behind its back, it’s strapping the Suzuki to a chair and letting more efficient rivals knock lumps out of it.

Value pricing

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But before dismissing the Kizashi completely, consider this. It costs £21,995, yet comes with leather upholstery, parking sensors, heated seats, cruise control, an eight-speaker stereo and 18-inch alloy wheels. With 178PS (176bhp), it goes from 0-62mph in a brisk 8.8 seconds.

Many road tests have compared the cabin with those of a Ford Mondeo or Volkswagen Passat and have criticised the Suzuki’s quality and space. In truth, though, the Kizashi sits in between large family cars like the Passat and smaller saloons like the VW Jetta. Make the comparison with the smaller four-doors which the Kizashi is priced against and the interior is more than roomy enough.

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High kerbweight

What really deserves to put the Kizashi on your tow car radar is its weight. Suzuki quotes a kerbweight of 1625kg. The company doesn’t include 75kg for the driver and a small amount of luggage, as allowed by the EU’s kerbweight definition, so it’s not unreasonable to work from a figure of 1700kg. That gives an 85% match figure of 1445kg.

 

We towed a Swift Expression 554 with an MTPLM of 1454kg and found the Suzuki to make a stable tow car in all but the strongest cross winds. Despite the petrol engine’s low torque figure, the Kizashi pulled the Swift from 30-60mph in a respectable 11.9 seconds. Plant your right foot and the CVT gearbox allows the engine to rev up immediately, adjusting the gear ratio to build speed. It makes for noisy but surprisingly determined progress.

 

Even so, I can’t help thinking how much more fun the Kizashi would be with a manual gearbox. The 2.4 petrol isn’t especially refined or tuneful and the CVT’s rev-happy antics mean there’s too much engine noise under acceleration.

 

Pricey at the pumps

There’s no getting away from the poor fuel economy, either. We could only manage 18.2mpg towing around our economy route. On steep hills you could almost see the fuel gauge dropping.

Even so, for low mileage drivers the Suzuki’s modest list price could outweigh the high fuel bills. I still think the Kizashi is an oddball, but perhaps it doesn’t deserve to be quite so obscure.

A full review will appear in the July 2013 issue.

 

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