Maruti Suzuki Kizashi India launch on February 2, 2011

The Kizashi is on its way. Maruti Suzuki India will formally launch its much-expected sedan on February 2, 2011. Maruti Suzuki will export the Kizashi as a Completely Built Unit (CBU) from Japan at an expected price of Rs.14 lakhs – Rs.18 lakhs.

With all the hype and teasing, the Kizashi already has built up a fan following here in India.

“This [Kizashi] is our attempt to be future ready, as we believe the A4 and A5 segment is going to grow. It is small at the moment but the way the economy is growing, this segment is going to be big,” Maruti Suzuki India managing executive officer (Marketing & Sales) Mayank Pareek said. “There are nine million Maruti Suzuki customers at present. Many of them want to move up and have been asking after the SX4, what next? What we are doing here is to provide them options in luxury segment,” Pareek added.

maruti suzuki kizashi photo
Photo: Maruti Suzuki Kizashi

Earlier, analysts predicted that the Kizashi in India to be priced to be in region of Rs 18-20 lakh. This downward revision, then, is a huge step. If the Maruti Suzuki can indeed price this car aggressively to start at 14 lakhs, the company can expect a much wider customer base than it was previously aiming for.

At Rs 14 lakh-Rs.18 lakh, the Kizashi will take square aim at the likes of the Honda Accord, Volkswagen Jetta and the Skoda Laura. This is a booming segment. With more money flowing into the pockets of Indians, the Kizashi becomes an enviable option.

In the United States, the Suzuki Kizashi comes with a slew of safety features such as 8 airbags and electronic stability control, EBD and ABS. For those of a more sporty nature, Suzuki has thrown in an all-wheel drive system with a 6-speed manual transmission. The Kizashi is powered by a 2.4 litre petrol engine that produces 185 bhp @ 6500 rpm and a maximum torque of 230 Nm @ 4000 rpm.

If you like your car to be loaded with gizmos, you too will find the Suzuki Kizashi obliging with iPod dock and a 6-CD entertainment system as standard across all variants (in the U.S.)

The interior of the Kizashi is prettied up with quality plastics and supportive seats and space in the rear is pretty good.

In short, Suzuki has done everything to make Kizashi a great and sporty alternative to the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.

In India, the Kizashi will go head-to-head with the Japanese giants as well as the Volkswagen Jetta and the Skoda Laura. Here’s a look how the Kizashi stacks up against the competition.

Suzuki Kizashi vs. Skoda Laura: Rs. 13,43,690 – Rs. 18,01,032

The Laura is based on the VW Golf platform, albeit the new generation A5 platform. The car is a great blend of contemporary styling, high build quality, frugal engines, and luxurious interiors.

The very contemporary and European-looking Laura offers a comfortable and pleasurable ride on all types of roads and packs in a host of functional features. It is also stacked with an assortment of advanced technologies that help heighten comfort levels. The car offers optimum safety with abundance of new and advanced safety features.

The Skoda Laura is available in three variants: Skoda Laura Laurin & Klement, Elegance, and Ambiente and the just-launched Classic. These variants are available with a choice of three engines: 1.8-litre TSI (Turbocharged Fuel Stratified Direct Injection) petrol, 1.9-litre TDI PD (Turbocharged Direct Injection with Pump Duse), and 2.0-litre TDI PD, that generate 160 bhp, 110 bhp and 140 bhp respectively.

How they compare: Price-wise, the Laura is the most direct competitor of the Kizashi. The Kizashi has more power in the petrol range, but there is no word of a diesel variant. It’ll be interesting to see how the Kizashi fares against this proven and elegant performer.

Suzuki Kizashi vs. Toyota Camry: Rs. 21,58,220 – Rs 23,73,170

One of the best lookers around, the Toyota Camry is quite sharp. The headlamp is designed like a blade and the snout is pronounced with that Toyota badge resting on the grille which in itself is quite eye-catching! The tail lamps are modern and give a bulging stance to the rear. The interior is equally good looking.

toyota camry photo
Photo: Toyota Camry

The 2.4l, 167bhp engine is extremely smooth and has an instant-power-delivery nature to it. The automatic gearbox has quick reactions and works brilliantly. For Toyota worldwide, the Camry continues to redefine the standards for driving comfort and performance. The Camry can achieve a top speed of 200 kmph. To stop it from such speeds, large diameter disc brakes, vehicle stability assist, antilock braking system with EBD and brake assist help reduce the braking distances and enhances safety.

Fuel economy is not a highlight of this car however. In city driving conditions, the big sedan can only offer 9 kmpl and 16 kmpl on the highway. Overall, it is a car that lets you arrive in style. It is comfortable and quite manageable in the city. The ride quality is good and handling sharp.

How they compare: The Toyota Camry is a bestseller in the U.S., but here in India, it costs a good deal more than what the Kizashi is expected to. Even at the higher price, the Camry cannot match up to the Kizashi’s power. Fuel economy too, is expected to be better for the Kizashi.

Suzuki Kizashi vs. Honda Accord: Rs. 18,53,500 – Rs.19,42,500

The 2011 Honda Accord is already available in U.S. market since August 2010. The new Accord, in the United States, was launched with a silky smooth 2.4 litre petrol engine that produces 177 hp, 190 hp and the 3.5 litre V6 engine that produces 271 horses. But Honda claims that the 2011 model will feature improved aerodynamics, reduced internal engine friction and modified gear ratios which will collectively result in better fuel efficiency (5% – 10%). On the inside, the 2011 Accord is expected to provide ergonomic controls, new instrument layout and plush seats.

How they compare: The Honda Accord, though pricing is not similar, is a good competitor for the Suzuki Kizashi. The Accord has set a benchmark for performance and comfort, and the Kizashi, with similar performance and feature, must aim for this. If it succeeds, it will do so on a far cheaper price.

Suzuki Kizashi vs. Volkswagen Jetta: Rs. 13,11,213 – Rs. 16,07,651

The Jetta is basically a booted version of Volkswagen’s best selling Golf hatchback. It’s also based on the same platform as the VW Passat and the Skoda Laura.

The Jetta was launched in India in mid-2008 and is being assembled locally at Volkswagen’s Aurangabad facility.

volkswagen jetta photo
Photo: Volkswagen Jetta

Smooth elegance is what the Jetta’s theme seems to be, and the car’s design pulls it off without a hassle. The double barrel headlights and the familiar VW grille all bespeak German quality. The looks are understated and remind you of the Passat. And this is most evident when you see the tail lamp cluster. Otherwise, the rest of the car looks rather straighforward and well, German. No design exuberance here and there. The ample ground clearance also makes the car look taller than it is.

The Volkswagen Jetta is available in the country with two engine options — a 1.6-litre petrol and a 1.9-litre diesel engine. The top-of-the-line diesel is mated to a 6-speed automatic DSG gearbox, while the petrol variant gets a 5-speed transmission as standard. The diesel engine produces 110 PS, while the petrol puts out 102 PS.

How they compare: The Suzuki Kizashi just blows away the Jetta when it comes to performance. It is strange that VW has let remain its low-powered engines still. However, how the Kizashi will fare against the Jetta when it comes to build and material quality remains to be seen.

Suzuki Kizashi vs. Chevrolet Cruze: Rs.10.99 lakhs – Rs. 13.45 lakhs

The Chevrolet Cruze is a seriously good looker — the best part is the huge front grille which is in 2 portions, dominated by Chevrolet’s new bow-tie logo in centre. The Cruze’s arching roof-line, extending from the steeply raked windshield to its sloping rear pillars and short rear deck, brings coupe-like proportions to a compact sedan.

chevrolet cruze photo
Photo: Chevrolet Cruze

BIgger and bolder than most of its competitors, the Chevrolet Cruze has a purposeful stance with its wheels located at the outer edges of the tautly drawn bodywork. Noticeably tight body panel fits and a restrained use of exterior trim add to a high quality, solid appearance.

The Chevrolet Cruze is powered by a 1991cc 4-cylinder VCDi diesel engine. This engine generates maximum power of 148 bhp at 4000 rpm and maximum torque of 327 Nm @ 2600 rpm. GM has also made the Chevrolet Cruze automatic available in India. The company claims that the car would give a mileage of 18.3 kilometre per litre, according to ARAI standards.

The Chevrolet Cruze qualifies as being the fastest and most powerful automatic car in its segment, outperforming the likes of the Skoda Laura with the DSG AT gearbox and the VW Jetta, also from the same family.

How they compare: The Chevrolet Cruze is cheaper than the yet-to-be-launched Kizashi, and also offers great value for money with its powerful diesel engine — something Maruti Suzuki needs to offer the price-per-km conscious public. Build quality is also up to scratch — something we’ll be looking for in the Kizashi.