Suzuki Kizashi road test

  • New saloon emits a hefty 191g/km of CO2
  • 2.4-litre engine, CVT automatic box, four-wheel-drive 
  • £215 a month in company car tax on a 40% rate

Suzuki is entering uncharted territory with its new Kizashi four-door saloon.

Traditionally, the Japanese manufacturer has excelled with smaller cars such as the Swift and Splash hatchbacks and 4x4s such as the SX4, the Jimny and Grand Vitara, which all have found favour with company car drivers.

So new frontiers then for Suzuki in the UK market. The Kizashi is a bona fide family saloon targeting company car default choices such as the Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Insignia. It will, however, miss the target… by a long way.

Why's that then?

This is not really a proper attack on the so-called ‘D-segment’ market – a space dominated by the Mondeos and Insignias. It’s more a toe in the water. Suzuki is only hoping to sell 500 in the UK because that’s all it needs to break even. Interestingly, Suzuki sold a rather impressive 23,000 cars in the petrol-loving US.

You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to work out why Suzuki has such modest aspirations for the Kizashi on these shores. There’ll only be one variant available and that’s a 2.4-litre four-cylinder, four-wheel-drive, petrol engined model, which is completely incongruous for the fuel-conscious UK car buyer. With an average fuel economy of 34mpg (we averaged 27mpg with conservative driving) and CO2 emissions of 191g/km it’s not exactly attractive to, er… anyone. Suzuki, has long-term ambitions in this market, but it’s unrealistic to expect the Kizashi to gain much traction in the fleet market, however.

So is it much cop as a company car?

Well, it looks smart enough and although the seats feel a little flat it’s reasonably comfortable. You get an adequate amount of kit with leather seats, CD stereo with USB connection, dual climate control, cruise control and although this is a veritable gas guzzler the engine feels reasonably refined when you get it up to speed. The ride, if firm, is perfectly acceptable too.    

So it’s not dreadful if you have a limitless fuel card, but there is another problem. This car comes only with a CVT automatic box, which does have friends in other markets, but in the UK, it’s seen as a whiney, horrible, technological trauma that nobody really wants. To be fair, this CVT box is one of the best on the market and although it’s got that tell-tale high revving nature, it’s not completely unbearable. You can switch to four-wheel-drive by pressing a button. This is, purportedly, an attraction, but one suspects that if you are hell-bent on getting a 4x4 because you want to traverse rough terrain, you’d probably got for a normal off-road vehicle with a decent ground clearance.

As a driving machine you’d have more fun in a bog-standard two-wheel-drive Mondeo, Insignia or VW Passat. Yep, the all-wheel-drive affords you acceptable levels of traction, but there’s not much feedback and you definitely don’t feel at one with the car. Added to that there’s almost no steering feel. Apart from the Ssangyong Korando, it’s possibly the worst car we have had for steering feel this year. 

According to the press blurb Kizashi means ‘Great Things to Come’, which in this case is a moot point. If you are working for a company where the bean-counters hold great sway you might as well forget it since the fuel bills will be way too much to bear particularly when there are three times more frugal cars on the market that have none of the drawbacks.

If you do opt for a Kizashi – if it manages to sneak onto the list – you’ll pay a very high price. With CO2 emissions of 191g/km you’ll have to pay company car tax in the 28% tax band. With an estimated guide price of between £22,000 and £24,000 let’s assume a P11d value of £23,000. That means company car tax will be payable at a whopping £215 per month on the 40% pay scale.

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