2012 Suzuki Kizashi: The Affordable Car Nobody Knows

The 2012 Suzuki Kizashi is affordable and fun...And seemingly unknown to most drivers.

John Scott Lewinskiby John Scott Lewinski

When behind the wheel of a 2012 Suzuki Kizashi, a few essential questions tumble through the mind.

We’re not talking about the same question any car might generate. “What mileage am I getting with this thing? How fast will this go? Will women think I’m more attractive than I really am when I’ve driving it?”

Instead, the Suzuki Kizashi leaves you asking: “Why don’t we see more Suzuki Kizashi's on the road? Why does no one Why does no one know about this car?”

During a weeklong test drive of the 2012 Kizashi, the little Japanese import proved itself to be one of the best affordable cars I’ve driven this year. The Kizashi is Suzuki’s entry level model – the equivalent of the Mazda 2 or the Toyota Yaris. At an entry level price of about $19,000, it runs a little pricier than its fellow Japanese stepping stone cars – but it’s much more car.

Topping out at around $27,000, the Kizashi comes in a surprising six distinct setups. Pay attention now. You can buy the S, the Sport GTS, the SE, the SE Leather Addition, Sport SLS, and the Sport SLS Navi Edition.

Those variations each come with progressively more bangs and whistles, but even the basic S formation serves up a decent amount of kit. You get a 2.4 liter, 4 cylinder engine, an automatic variable transmission, all-wheel drive, MP3 player, side and curtain airbags and stability and traction control.

Since the Suzuki fleet people know I rarely look to behave myself like a proper adult, they set me up with the Sport GTS. It’s put together the same as the S, but they throw in an iPod input and Bluetooth connectivity.

While by no means a sports car, the Kizashi is spritely and responsive. The all-wheel drive in what amounts to a basic bottom of the line car is a special treat. You’d have to settle for front wheel drive and a smaller engine in its Japanese rivals.

Suzuki calls the Kizashi a “midsize compact.” I suppose that’s the equivalent of a jumbo shrimp or military intelligence, but the car is just slightly larger than its rivals. It’s also built as a coupe instead of a five door hatchback like most entry level cars.

If there’s a disappointing mark on the Kizashi’s report card, it’s fuel economy. At 23 city and 31 mpg highway, the car lags behind other small cars that evolved into high compression, high mpg engines. For example, Mazda and Volkswagen are squeezing up to 40 mpg out of its engines. Still, the Kizashi is as much fun to drive as either of those makes.

So, what’s the deal, Suzuki? Why aren’t you getting the word out on a very good, affordable little car? You need to start advertising this thing with a little oomph. I don’t know if you’ve budget problems over there, but how hard can it be to get a decent campaign going? I’m willing to work it up for you for a very unreasonable fee.

Let me know.