Suzuki Kizashi launch at Auto Expo 2010

Update: Maruti Suzuki displayed the Suzuki Kizashi at the 2010 Auto Expo yesterday. Read Suzuki Kizashi at 2010 Auto Expo for latest news.

Maruti Suzuki will launch a premium mid size sedan, the Suzuki Kizashi, at the upcoming Auto Expo in New Delhi in January 2010.

Suzuki Kizashi launch at Auto Expo 2010
Suzuki Kizashi launch at Auto Expo in Jan 2010

It is believed that the Suzuki Kizashi will be positioned against cars such as the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord in India.  Price of the Kizashi is expected to be above Rs 12 lakhs in India.  That does not mean much – if the car is going to be positioned in the D segment, it is possible that the price would be as high as Rs. 18 lakh. The price of the Kizashi in United States is $ 20,000 to $ 25,000 – that translates to Rs 10-12 lakhs in India.

Suzuki Kizashi launch at Auto Expo 2010
Photo: Suzuki Kizashi. Can it take on Accord and Camry?

Would Maruti be able to sell a high-end sedan in India?  Past experience of the company in India is not very encouraging. The Baleno was a brilliant car, but the market did not particularly take to it.  Maruti, in India, is associated with small, efficient cars – not with high-end cars and status. But the company is nevertheless going ahead with it.

The Suzuki Kizashi is available in the United States in both two wheel drive and four wheel drive options.  The two wheel drive Kizashi comes in three versions-a six speed manual, an automatic CVT and an automatic CVT with paddle shifters. We have to wait till the Auto Expo to learn which of these comes to India, though.

Suzuki Kizashi launch at Auto Expo 2010
Suzuki Kizashi pic

The all-wheel-drive version comes with an automatic CVT for a CVT with paddle shifters.  At this point, we have no idea which version of the Kizashi would be coming to India.  There is highly demand for automatic cars in the D segment in India. However, our guess is that as the automatic is a CVT, the company is likely to introduce only the six speed Manual version with two wheel drive (FWD) in India.  India does not have any four wheel drive sedans in this segment so far, and Maruti Suzuki is unlikely to take a risk with the new Kizashi.

The 2400 CC petrol engine produces 185 horsepower and 170 ft-lbs of torque.  Reviews of the car mail international journalists indicate that the Suzuki Kizashi is reasonably good at cornering.  Power is adequate, and an electronic stability programme with ABS and EBD are standard.

There are eight airbags in the Kizashi including the rear outboard passenger side airbags.  There are air conditioning vents at the rear.  Just like the recently launched Chevrolet Cruze, the Kizashi comes with keyless push button start and entry, electric mirrors and central locking.  The steering wheel is tilt/telescopic adjustable, and features audio controls.

The Kizashi has 10-way adjustable driver’s seat with three memory presets.  The American version of the car has the option of either 17 or 18 inch alloy wheels.  Possibly, we will get the same in the Indian version of the car.

The controls on the steering wheel include audio controls, cruise control, hands free mobile phone calling, and paddle shifters.  Temperature can be adjusted separately for the driver and the front passenger.

If we get the all wheel drive version of the Kizashi, you can either choose to drive only in the front wheel drive mode for better fuel efficiency, and switch to all wheel drive at any speed to transfer 50 per cent of the power to the rear wheels.

There is a standard USB Port available for you to connect your MP3 player to the car’s audio system.

It is believed that Suzuki would soon offer a hybrid version of the powertrain for the Kizashi.  This, however, is going to be some time coming and definitely will not be available in India at the time of the launch of the Kizashi.  A new V6 engine also would come to the Kizashi, but no dates are available so far.

Initial test drive reports say that even in the front wheel drive version of the car, understeer is not pronounced at all and the car is extremely grippy compared to the competition, equally at home on the highway, city roads or the twisties.  Acceleration is going with the car touching 60 MPH.

In the United States, the Kizashi will be positioned as an affordable sport sedan, but in the Indian market it will be considered a premium mid size sedan.

The production Suzuki Kizashi has disappointed those who were impressed by the extreme styling of the conception version of the car.  That one was out of this world.  The production version, on the other hand, looks like a grown up brother of the Suzuki SX4 which has learned a few tricks.

The name-Kizashi-is a bit of a bit of a tongue twister, however.  It is definitely not going to roll easily of Indian tongues.

According to some media reports, we are going to get the all wheel drive version of the Kizashi-if that is true, that will be a USP for the car in India.

The twin silencers at the rear, integrated into the rear bumper, helps to give the Kizashi some sporty pretensions.

The interior of the car is reported to be quite spacious- that is one area in which in which Suzuki is actually quite brilliant at.  The interior of the Kizashi is much more modern than the interior of the Suzuki SX4 which we have in India.  According to some reports, the CVT version of the car is more fuel efficient than the manual transmission Kizashi.

Truth be told, the Suzuki Kizashi is not going to win any beauty contests, but it definitely is a handsome car that can give the other premium mid size sedans in India some serious competition- at least because it is a refreshing change.

Most probably, the biggest draws at the Auto Expo 2010 New Delhi will be small car launches.  However, the Kizashi is bound to attract some attention in January.  With some luck, the Suzuki Kizashi will be a success for the company.