Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Fire up the... Suzuki Kizashi (UK version)

PART of the problem with new cars these days is that what you see isn't usually what you get. Unless you pay for it as an optional extra, that is.

It's one of the car industry's worst kept secrets that paying for life's little luxuries can add hundreds - sometimes even thousands - of pounds to the price of your pride and joy, but Suzuki is offering an intriguing alternative for anyone infuriated by the confusing, expensive and downright mind-boggling world of the options list.

Put simply, the Kizashi doesn't have one. There's no messing about with gadgets and gizmos on this one - it's £21,995, take it or leave it.

Nor, by the way, is this an accidental reprint of a roadtest that's already appeared in these pages. Life On Cars did get to drive the Kizashi earlier this year, but that was very much a test model to see whether us fussy Brit buyers would go for the idea of a Suzuki saloon, whereas this one is the finished product, subtly retrimmed and re-engineered with the UK's motorists in mind.

That original test version got the thumbs up because it offered buyers things they couldn't get elsewhere and it's much the same story here, with a package that offers saloon virtues without the sheer size of say, a Mondeo or an Insignia. More importantly, while Suzuki's thumbed through the options list on your behalf they've been quite generous with it - the Kizashi's got full leather trim, plenty of toys up front to keep you entertained when you're not pressing on, and a 178bhp, four cylinder petrol engine when you are.

Yet I'd raise the biggest eyebrow of all at the transmission, because unlike just about any other saloon of its size you can press a button and a four wheel drive system comes to life, which should come in handy if you live off your local council's gritting routes. It's mated to a CVT automatic gearbox, and while you can change gear manually using paddles on the steering column, Schumacher-style, the car's character suits leaving it in auto and letting the technology do the hard bit.

The Kizashi then, is the perfect car for people who don't really like cars very much. If you're looking for a no-nonsense package which will get you where you need to be, in all weathers, take a look at one of the 500 Suzuki's planning on shipping over.

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