Suzuki Kizashi and Kizashi 2: A Brand Looking to Grow
Concepts at Frankfurt and Tokyo Foreshadow Suzuki’s Mid-Size Intentions.
The Kizashi at the 2007 Frankfurt show and the Kizashi 2 a month later at the Tokyo motor show, according to Suzuki, “illustrate Suzuki‘s progress toward developing a D-segment entry.” For American buyers, those are cars similar in size to the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, and Hyundai Azera. Suzuki’s GM-Daewoo-supplied Verona tried to compete here, but was not a particularly good example of a family sedan, expensive for the Suzuki franchise, and it was dropped from the range after a short sales run in the USA.
Among the interesting elements of these two international concept cars is that both carry a wagon bodystyle; Suzuki is due to show a third development next year in the United States and it would be a good bet that that car is a sedan and closer to what the production vehicle will be. Suzuki is well aware of the need for the production car to at least include a sedan, having indicated that they are planning a new flagship sedan, despite theses wagon concepts. In the States, four-door sedans dominate car segments. Few wagons survive for long in the cutthroat U.S. mid-size market, and those that do sell a fraction of their sedan counterparts. Wagons fare much better in international markets, where buyers did not take SUVs to heart quite as deeply as Americans. Simply, in the USA, SUVs killed the idea of a conventional station wagon.
The Kizashi 2 in Tokyo takes more aggressive, nearly SUV cues, compared with the sleek Kizashi, but it is still a wagon. Suzuki is looking for a D-segment entry that focuses on status and signals the maturity of the brand.
Wagon popularity aside, the Kizashi concepts are dramatic and bold. By the time we see the production car, it may be significantly more tame as is often the case going from concept to reality. Neither concept has a traditional Suzuki look and still both hold promise for some dramatic real-world looks, though perhaps too early to say they show maturity. The concepts do have a clear Japanese flavor, and their bold strokes are refreshing.
Kizashi – Dynamic Athlete in Motion
The word Kizashi is a Japanese word meaning prelude or foretaste, according to Suzuki, and these concepts are Suzuki’s exploration of a new look for the company’s range overall. The theme for both was that of “a dynamic athlete in motion,” and the concepts lived up to that theme. The red Kizashi 1 had the look of a long-distance runner, though, where the white Kizashi 2 looked more rock climber or rugby player.
The Frankfurt Kizashi was urban and racy, low-slung with a fast look down to its wheels and a deep front grille and LED headlights that were clearly more fantasy than reality. The Tokyo Kizashi 2 is just as clearly closer to how the new design themes will play in future Suzuki grilles, though the second concept shows how it might play in the crossover world. Kizashi 2 sits much higher, with more ground clearance, body panels that look like skidplates, a hint of roof rails, and wheels and tires that look more appropriate for an off-roader than a sleek highway tourer.
The concept in Frankfurt, introduced to a market that favors diesel, offered a 2.0L turbo-diesel mated to a sequential six-speed manual, reflecting the importance of diesels to that market, the Japanese concept sported a 3.6L V6 mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The V6 is the GM-designed, Suzuki-built engine in the XL7. These concepts also use an “advanced i-AWD” system. These concepts hint at a dramatic new entry from Suzuki, and we’re looking forward to seeing Kizashi 3. Look for the third installment later in 2008 on the U.S. show circuit.