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Suzuki Kizashi to get a kick-along

Kizashi boost: Suzuki's mid-sizer is set to go turbo.

AIMS turbo concept is looking more likely as Suzuki aims to boost sluggish sales

8 Feb 2011

SUZUKI is set to go turbo with the slow-selling but critically acclaimed Kizashi sedan after all, as part of a new wave of promotional activity designed to increase consumer awareness of the company’s largest car to date.

These are on top of the model-year 2011 updates announced in December that include a driver’s knee airbag, model-wide cruise control and seatbelt minders for an expected five-star ANCAP crash-test safety rating.

Further down the line, a wagon version is waiting in the wings, offering both front and all-wheel drive. But that will not see the light of day until later next year at the earliest.

When the Kizashi Turbo was unveiled at the Australian International Motor Show in Sydney last October, Suzuki said it would gauge consumer reaction before committing to the project.

Since then it appears a decision has been reached to offer the turbo installation as an Australian-fitted accessory, according to Suzuki Australia general manager Tony Devers.

“Now that the Swift launch is over, we are putting more focus on the Turbo to get it roadworthy and road ready,” he told GoAuto at the AZ Swift launch in Melbourne earlier this month.

30 center imageTop: Suzuki Australia general manager Tony Devers. Middle and bottom: Kizashi Sport.

“We’ve already driven it and know it drives very well, so we have to tweak a few things and we’ll be putting that out to the press for them to evaluate that as well,” he said.

“It will be most likely an accessory – that’s where we will be going with that.

“American Suzuki offer it, and we want to offer it as well.” Developed in conjunction with Californian-based hot tuners Road Race Motorsports (RRM), which offers a similar package for American Suzuki, the Turbo uses the regular Kizashi’s 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine to deliver 179kW of power at 4800rpm and 330Nm of torque at 4400rpm.

The intercooled turbo has 7psi of boost, while torque is fed through the front wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox.

In contrast, the current Kizashi flagship – the $39,990 AWD Sport version released last August – pumps out 131kW and 230Nm from the same naturally aspirated engine, and drives all four wheels via a continuously variable transmission (CVT). It has been reported that the all-wheel drive system has only been designed around the CVT for the Kizashi.

Other Turbo attributes include lowered sports suspension, a front strut brace, 19-inch Enkei RPF1 alloy wheels on 245/40-section Pirelli P-Zero tyres and beefier brakes, as well as a new rear deck spoiler.

According to Mr Devers, this is only the first chapter of the Kizashi story in Australia.

“We’ve averaged about 180 month since launch mid-year, and we’re looking at a second wave of marketing right now,” he said.

“We recognise that (the low sales) are an awareness factor, and that we need to get cars seen on the road, and get the car put on shopping lists.

“But having said that, the mid-sized sector is one of the most depressed, and you look at the buyer profile and they’re often older couples, more conservative, or even retirees, so when things are politically unsound or economically nervous they don’t do anything.

“Yet we believe this second wave of promotion is going to get sales up to about 300 per month.” The latter figure is what Suzuki had hoped the Kizashi would achieve with the additional help of the AWD version.

Further down the track, the wagon is expected to further boost Kizashi sales.

“You’ve seen the concepts (in Tokyo in 2007) and Suzuki still wants to do an estate/wagon version.

“I think they could turn the estate into production very quickly, because they had come a long way with the concept version. That would broaden the range right there.

“It’s all lifestyle stuff – an all-wheel drive estate perhaps that would fit the lifestyle of a lot of Suzuki people, and reinforce our presence in that more prestige segment.

“What we need is something like that. People recognise us as high quality and good value small car manufacturers. And we’re probably among the best, and the perception is very positive around that. But can Suzuki make a midsized prestige car? Would I put it on the shopping list or find out more about it at this stage? So that’s where we are at right now – it’s now about awareness.

“We’re now up on the first couple of rungs up the ladder, but we need to take it further.”

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