Suzuki will need to improve fuel economy if it wants to see more of its mid-sized Kizashi Sport saloons on Britain's roads, says motoring writer Tim Barnes-Clay.
Most people don't know what the Kizashi is.
That's because there aren't many on the road, even though the Suzuki Kizashi Sport has been available in the UK since January 2012.
The saloon looks good - even muscular from some angles, but it also appears a bit phony.
Take the twin tailpipes: the big silver outlets imply large diameter performance-pipes are pulsating with power underneath.
But on closer inspection a couple of pea-shooters lurk inside the apertures.
Nevertheless, the Kizashi Sport does have potency, just as the brawny bits - such as the pimped-out sill extensions and beefy 18 inch alloys - suggest.
Suzuki Kizashi Sport: Spec
Under the bonnet there's a 2.4 litre, four cylinder petrol engine with 175bhp. This pulls the car from 0-62mph in 8.8 seconds – topping-out at 127mph.
Inside, the Suzuki's expeditious theme continues with a sports steering wheel and contrasting stitching for its leather seats.
But, away from all the puff, the Kizashi – the Japanese motor manufacturer's first mid-sized saloon - is fairly practical.
It will accommodate five people, with the cabin offering sufficient leg and shoulder room even for rear-seat passengers.
For added pragmatism, there's a "ski-hatch" in the rear to allow for any long items you want to load into the generous boot.
Highly equipped for safety
The Suzuki Kizashi Sport is highly equipped for safety and includes seven airbags.
It also has the sort of standard kit once only associated with luxury motors.
It has four electric windows; dual zone air conditioning; keyless entry and folding heated door mirrors.
The sole option for the model is a touch screen sat-nav system, available as a dealer fit.
Bit of an oddity to drive
However, the car is a bit of an oddity to drive: punch the pedal and there's a lot of bark from the continuously variable transmission (CVT) before any bite is delivered.
When the cogs and the engine realise what you want, the Suzuki gets a nice head of steam up – it just feels a bit highly-strung getting there.
Things are less flustered if you use the switches behind the steering wheel to go up and down the six gears manually.
Handling is business-like and stable with very little chassis vibration and stopping the ride is impressive too, thanks to the Kizashi's civilized four-wheel disc brakes.
Intelligent all-wheel-drive a bonus
The main endowment the Suzuki Kizashi Sport saloon has is intelligent all-wheel-drive, fitted as standard.
This is rare in a car this size and is more often found among luxury cars from Germany.
Engineered to provide terrific traction in Britain's bad weather, the system delivers enhanced grip in low friction situations, as well as first-rate cornering.
When driving in dry and normal conditions, you can switch off all-wheel-drive via a button on the dashboard – even when the car's in motion.
Poor fuel economy
Unfortunately, an auto gearbox mixed with 4x4 technology tends to mean poor fuel economy.
Suzuki claims up to 34mpg can be squeezed from the tank, but I got nowhere near that – more like high 20s.
The emissions let the side down too - the Kizashi belches out 191g/km of CO2.
Suzuki will need to work on this if it wants to see more of its mid-sized saloon on the roads of Great Britain.
Suzuki Kizashi Sport: Pros & cons
4x4 versatility √
Cabin space √
Big boot √
Suzuki Kizashi Sport: Fast facts
Max speed: 127 mph
0-62 mph: 8.8 secs
Combined mpg: 34.0
Engine: 2393 cc 16 valve 4 cylinder petrol
Max. power (bhp): 175 at 6000 rpm
Max. torque (lb/ft): 170 at 4000 rpm
CO2: 191 g/km
Price: £21,995 on the road
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