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The Suzuki Kizashi Has Arrived (Australia)

May 14th, 2010



Suzuki has lifted the benchmark for medium sized cars in Australia with the release of its exciting new Kizashi sedan.

Nearly three years since the first Kizashi concept car was unveiled at Frankfurt Motor Show, the production version represents an unparalleled combination of design, performance, driving dynamics.

“Kizashi – which is Japanese for ‘something good is coming’ – represents an exciting new direction for the company,” said Suzuki Australia General Manager Tony Devers.

“Kizashi has been developed to be our flagship model in the Suzuki passenger car line-up. We have a great reputation as the specialist in small, sporty cars, 4WD SUVs and now Kizashi takes us into the mid-sized segment for the first time.”

Devers said entering the mid-sized segment was a natural progression for Suzuki.

“Kizashi is the car that expands our line-up in order to break into markets where larger cars are demanded and to accommodate the diverse lifestyles of customers who want to stay with the Suzuki brand.”

This exciting new offering is the latest in a string of world strategic models, including Swift, Grand Vitara, SX4 and Alto, which has helped Suzuki develop a reputation for customer-focused innovation in line with its “Way of Life!” brand philosophy.

Design

Work on the Kizashi began in October 2004. Following the success of the Swift, engineers began looking at Suzuki’s first foray into premium medium size cars with the Kizashi program.

“As the first step towards a mid-size car, we needed to decide what kind of car Suzuki should offer,” said the Kizashi Concept Chief Program Engineer.

“From the beginning it was vital we considered how best to embody the five key ‘Way of Life!’ elements – straightforward, value, sporty, spirit and excitement.

“As a result, we defined the Kizashi development as ‘an emotionally appealing sedan for active people’. We aimed for Kizashi to deliver excitement throughout the driving experience and saw our benchmark as models from Audi and BMW.

“The most crucial issue was how to stimulate customers emotionally, and we saw design, performance and eco-friendliness as key attributes.”

The Chief Engineer said in an effort to deliver those attributes, in the right combination, the team developed the car with emphasis on four key areas:

    * a combination of sportiness and elegance in its design
    * a further evolution of the European-tuned handling delivered by Swift
    * smoothness and quietness befitting a D-segment vehicle, and
    * superior engine performance and fuel efficiency

The Chief Engineer said the production car had exceeded all expectations.

“Any doubts people outside Suzuki had about our ability to deliver a mid-sized car only inspired us to work even harder.

“As a result, the Kizashi truly shines in terms of the excitement it delivers. It transcends absolute performance figures and takes the driver into a realm where design, performance and driving dynamics come together seamlessly to start your senses.”

In the Kizashi’s design, European-style design and Japanese craftsmanship are combined in ways that communicate sportiness and elegance.

From the front, the Kizashi is distinguished by a wide stance and by a three-dimensionally curved bonnet line that creates an athletic visual presence and a strong impression of forward motion.

The headlamps complement the look of width, while the front grille communicates sportiness and refinement via a three-dimensional mesh design with a smoked-look finish.

The Kizashi’s profile view combines a long wheelbase (2,700mm) with one of the most modest overall lengths in the mid-sized segment (4,650mm). Taut shoulder lines run from nose to tail over contours whose volume gives a sense of dynamism and refinement without any need for superfluous character lines.

A bold, aggressive stance is complemented by 17-inch alloy wheels (18-inch on the XLS). And a sense of dynamism and quality is conveyed by details that include chrome-plated bezels on the turn signal lamps, piano black garnishes on the B-pillars and glossy black beltline mouldings.

From the rear, further expressions of sportiness and elegance can be seen in the
rear combination lamps, with a cylindrical theme that matches the look of the headlamps and gives an impression of depth and softness.

Stainless-steel exhaust covers reflect inspiration from Suzuki’s motorcycle designs. The boot lid is both slim and rigid thanks to an advanced joining technique known as laser brazing (a first among Suzuki cars) and the brush-stroke-style ‘Kizashi’ emblem combines spirit and Japanese tradition.

The interior design gives a contemporary, upscale feel. The ‘sporty and elegant’ theme is reflected in features that include a bold but elegant centre console, premium grade controls and seats, and extensive touches of tactile and visual refinement.

The instrument panel expresses sportiness and D-segment elegance through a shape that combines symmetry with a strong sense of movement emphasized by the satin-finish, inverted-L-shaped details where the horizontal section meets the centre stack.

The steering wheel has a sporty three-spoke design, available in leather in the range-topping XLS version and also in the CVT variation on XL version as well. It incorporates backlit switches for functions such as audio and cruise control.

The main instrumentation takes the form of two cylindrically shaped meters with an information display between them, which logs instant fuel usage, average fuel usage, distance to empty and average speed. It also incorporates a low fuel caution and battery replacement warning for the remote key fob

Audio equipment with CD and MP3 playback functions is designed exclusively for the Kizashi, housed in a soft-touch panel that realizes a premium look and feel.

The entry level XL version features a seven speaker AM/FM/CD audio system, with a USB port for iPod® connection.

The XLS version comes standard with a high-end audio system jointly developed by Suzuki and leading audio manufacturer Rockford Fosgate®, delivering 425W of high-grade sound through 10 speakers for maximum aural pleasure.

Dual zone climate control air conditioning is standard on all models, to ensure optimal comfort for the driver and front passenger, while all-round comfort is further enhanced by rear air vents.

The Kizashi’s seats were designed with comfort for the ultimate Suzuki driving machine in mind. They combine generous dimensions with support realized by a newly developed urethane material.

The XL model features 4-way manual adjustment, while the XLS driver’s seat comes standard with 10-way power adjustability and 4-way movement on the front passenger seat. The XLS driver’s seat also features a position memory for up to three users.

Front and rear power windows, leather-wrapped inner door grips, knitted fabric on the A pillars and headliner, and seatbelt shoulder anchorages found neatly incorporated into the trim, further contribute to the high levels of comfort and refinement.

Although the Kizashi is a sedan, it offers a level of utility that will more than satisfy people downsizing from larger cars. Luggage-carrying convenience in the Kizashi begins with a boot that has a generous capacity of 461 litres and a 60:40-split-folding rear seatback with ski-port.

Handily positioned spaces for smaller items include an illuminated glove box, a double-layer compartment under the centre-console armrest, and an instrument-panel centre box ideal for an iPod®, housing the USB port and power socket.

The Kizashi offers exceptionally high levels of standard equipment. The entry level XL model comes complete with:

    * 17-inch alloy wheels
    * Dual zone climate control air-conditioning with pollen filter
    * Cruise control (for CVT version only)
    * Steering wheel mounted audio controls
    * Footwell lights
    * Keyless entry and start
    * Seven speaker AM/FM/CD audio system with MP3 USB port for an iPod

The XLS version adds:

    * 18-inch alloy wheels
    * Front fog lamps
    * 10-way power driver’s seat with memory
    * 4-way power passenger seat
    * Rain-sensing wipers
    * Automatic headlamps
    * 10-speaker 425 watt AM/FM/CD Rockford Fosgate® audio system
    * Sunroof
    * Photochromatic rear vision mirror
    * Leather upholstery
    * Self-leveling High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlamps
    * Front and rear parking assist

The auto headlamps incorporate a newly developed optical sensor that turns on the headlights when the car is about to enter a tunnel but leaves them off when it passes under a relatively short overhang such as a bridge.

The auto headlamp system in the XLS works in tandem with the rain sensing wipers, ensuring fuss-free motoring, optimum visibility and improved safety.

Powertrain

Power for the Kizashi comes from a 2.4-litre DOHC in-line four cylinder engine, designated J24B.

Based on the engine that made its debut in the award winning 2008 Grand Vitara, the engine has been updated for Kizashi withrefinements including a maximised intake valve lift and an improved exhaust port shape.

Those improvements have helped realize excellent performance of 131 kW at 6500 rpm and 230 Nm at 4000 rpm with outstanding fuel efficiency of just 7.9 litres per 100 km.

The combination of power and fuel efficiency are promoted by measures including maximized intake-valve lift, a variable intake system and a plastic intake manifold that suppresses temperature increases in the intake air for maximuml cylinder-charging efficiency.

Intake manifold tuning valve system varies effective length of intake pipe by opening and closing an intake manifold tuning valve in order to improve air volumetric efficiency.

When the intake manifold tuning valve is totally closed, the effective intake pipe length is longer. Engine torque in high rpm ranges drops, while it is improved in middle ranges. This is the typical condition for normal driving.

At high engine speeds, the intake manifold tuning valve is fully open, effectively shortening the length of the intake pipe length. This condition improves engine torque at high rpm ranges for acceleration and overtaking.

The engine also reflects a focus on suppressing noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH). These technologies include extensive use of insulating materials and seals in the underfloor, dash, pillars and wheel wells, balance shafts, acoustically tuned manifold passages and dual high-capacity silencers in the exhaust system.

The standard transmission in Kizashi is a six-speed manual designed by Univance and manufactured by Suzuki Motor Corporation.

Featuring synchronizers on all forward and reverse gears, it ensures a smooth, positive action with a short throw to enhance the sporty characteristics of the car.
A new CVT is the optional automatic transmission, available on both XL and XLS versions of Kizashi.

The CVT controls are similar to a conventional automatic, with an accelerator and brake pedal and a P-R-N-D-style shift pattern.

However, while a traditional automatic transmission has a set number of gear ratios – four in the superseded SX4 - the CVT can constantly change the relationship of engine to car speed, resulting in an infinite number of speeds.

By controlling the width of two pulleys on input and output sides, CVT enables the engine to maintain its most effective revs for a range of vehicle speeds.

CVT offers a more comfortable ride, as there is no dramatic rev fluctuation that often occurs with conventional automatic gear shifting. In addition, CVT minimises the chances of a temporary speed loss in shift up or unintended kick-down when going uphill.

Acceleration is smooth, because the engine revs are ideally adjusted in accordance with the pressure on the accelerator pedal.

Because the engine revs are constantly adjusted at an ideally low rate, in cabin noise is kept at minimum levels, making the ride more comfortable and quieter.

The new CVT is perfectly matched to the specific speeds of the Kizashi engine, be it for torque (take-off), horsepower (overtaking) or fuel efficiency.

Because there are no gears to tie a given road speed directly to a given engine speed, the CVT can vary engine speed as required to ensure optimum power and fuel efficiency.

This allows the CVT to provide quicker acceleration than a conventional automatic while also delivering superior fuel economy.

Suzuki will offer CVT on all versions of the new Kizashi. Both XL and XLS models will feature a traditional stick shift lever, allowing customers to shift ratios manually. Owners of the XLS version will have rally inspired steering wheel mounted paddles as well.

“The inclusion of manual shifting allows enthusiast drivers to fully explore the Kizashi’s considerable performance potential. It’s designed to allow the driver to access higher revs and a lower gear ratio through an entertaining section of road,” said Devers.

Manual mode is engaged on the XL and XLS by shifting the gear lever across, and then selecting the six pre-set ratios with a shift of the lever forward (downshifts) or backward (upshifts).

Rally inspired steering wheel mounted paddle shifts are standard on the XLS version.

Enthusiast drivers can automatically engage temporary manual mode by shifting either the left hand paddle (downshifts) or right hand paddle (upshifts), with the selected gear prominent in the centre stack information display.

The temporary manual mode reverts to conventional CVT if a low driving speed is maintained, or the accelerator is pressed and held for more than a few seconds.

Similar to its entry level sibling, shifting the traditional gear lever across engages full-time manual mode in the XLS model.

To maximize driving pleasure and economy at all times, the CVT has several control modes:

    * A normal mode, in which the engine speed is kept at the optimal level for the throttle opening and vehicle speed to promote fuel efficiency;
    * A starting mode, in which the CVT maintains a low gear ratio for strong off-the-line acceleration;
    * An acceleration mode, in which the CVT uses hundreds of shift maps to deliver a linear acceleration feel; and
    * A downhill mode, in which the CVT provides engine braking.

Although the torque converter provides a converter range in which the engine torque is increased to start up the vehicle, the lock up clutch is engaged at approximately 10 km/h to reduce both power loss and fuel consumption.

Based on this background, torque converter axial dimension has been significantly reduced, by around 20 per cent compared with a conventional automatic transmission torque converter.

Driving dynamics

An exceptionally rigid steel unibody forms the basis for the great handling and a smooth ride in the Kizashi. Keys to the body’s high rigidity include straight under floor members, comprehensively reinforced joints and reinforced pillars, engine and suspension mounts.

The front suspension is of a McPherson strut type, featuring a cradle type suspension frame which contributes to a lower center of vehicle gravity and improved vehicle dynamics.

Suspension mounting to the body is of a floating type using a bush to improve comfort and quietness, while a stabilizer joint is installed on the strut assembly to further improve vehicle stability.

Strut support is of an input-separating type to absorb the load and attenuation force of coil spring and bump stopper separately, in order to reduce noise and vibration, further improving comfort levels.

The front steering knuckle is made of die-cast aluminum to reduce weight around the bottom of the spring.

Rear suspension consists of a multi-link arrangement including an upper arm, lower arm, and control rod and trailing arm.

The multi-link type contributes to a lower center of vehicle gravity and lower floor panel position, improving vehicle dynamics and comfort. The suspension frame is mounted to the body using a bush to improve comfort and quietness.

Superb braking performance is supplied by Akebono brakes, the company that provides the braking system for the famous Bullet train.

The Chief Engineer explained Kizashi’s high levels of performance and handling reflect the benefits of testing and tuning conducted in diverse conditions around the world.

“We tested Kizashi over thousands of kilometres including cold weather trials in Minnesota and hot-weather trials in Death Valley.

“We honed the car’s handling on challenging country roads in the United Kingdom and on autobahns and the famous Nordschleife at the Nürburgring in Germany.

“We wanted to make this a true driver’s car and I’m proud of the efforts put in by the ride and handling team that delivered the finest product we’ve produced to date,” said the Chief Engineer.

Safety

The high levels of safety inherent in every Kizashi begin with a light, energy-absorbing body in which structures that absorb and disperse impact energy are combined with a deformation-resisting cabin in line with Suzuki’s proprietary Total Effective Control Technology concept.

That strong body shell is complemented by an array of active and passive safety technologies, including:

    * 3-point seatbelt with pretensioners and force limiting
    * Anti-lock braking system (ABS)
    * Electronic brake force distribution (EBD)
    * ESP® stability control with traction control
    * Six airbags, including head protecting side curtain airbags

Kizashi also incorporates high levels of safety for pedestrians, including a safety zone between the front hood and engine, allowing the hood to deform and absorb impact if a pedestrian comes into contact.

This works in combination with the low front bumper design, deformable garnishes and windscreen wipers to maximise pedestrian safety in case of an accident.

“When the first Kizashi concept was unveiled at Frankfurt in 2007 we knew we had something very special on our hands.

“Now the production car is on sale, the time for waiting for something good to come is over. With the arrival of Kizashi, something good is here,” said Devers.


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