So what do you suppose some car designers consider the most important part of a car?
Would you guess it is:
– the engine
– the styling
– the suspension and handling
– perhaps the all of the features that are included with the car
– or could it be the car's performance.
If you guessed any of those you would be wrong.
No, the most important part of the car is the door handle.
Because that's the part of the car that you touch first.
Really, that's your first real physical interaction with the car so it better be memorable.
In my case it was love at first touch with the all new 2010 Suzuki Kizashi GTS.
What Suzuki has managed to build is a 20K car that looks and feels like a much more expensive 30K car.
Click HERE for reviews of other
cars that directly compete with the Kazashi.
For me the mark of a good car, no make that a great car, is its ability to make you feel special when you drive it…and I felt like a C list movie star in the Kizashi.
The Kizashi GTS isn't a great car but it is a very good car.
Let's start with what keeps it from being a great car.
The 2.4L engine and 6 speed manual were just all wrong in my tester. At 185-HP the Kizashi's I-4 engine is no where near powerful enough to make shifting the 6 speed anything but a painful exercise in fuel economy.
Image going up a hill in sixth gear and actually having to downshift into 3rd for any sort of meaningful passing power. It just makes you wonder why the car needs six gears in the first place.
Of course the upside to all of excessive manual gear rowing is as tested real world combined EPA number of 29.2 mpg. That's hybrid great for a car that the government says should get 20/29 mpg. And believe when I say that I didn't baby the Kizashi GTS around town or in the mountains.
FYI: I got a 0-60 time of 9.03 rowing the car's sluggish gear box myself, and a quarter mile time of 16.99 at 89 mph. The car stopped from 60-0 in a sports car like short distance of 108 feet.
So now that we've gotten the bad out of the way let's talk about the good which is pretty much everything else that makes you feel great driving a car.
Both the exterior and interior styling are just a nudge below Audi…which many consider the best in the car biz.
The soft-touch materials, secondary controls, and fabrics are first rate and the strangest and perhaps most wonderful surprise it that the Kizashi GTS just feels completely honest.
You know…a lot of cars are in the business of telling lies.
For instance, and you can probably think of many examples, some cars have all of the go fast bits and bling, but you'd never want to race them, while other cars have all of the off-road cladding and plastics, but you'd never want to get them muddy or dirty.
The Kizashi GTS has none of this pretense. It says I'm a family friendly high quality sedan so take me for a drive and just try not to be impressed at what you get for an as tested price of $22,749.00.
What's really amazing is that 23K will get you, among other things:
– Dual Zone Auto Climate controls
– Rear Passenger air vents
– 425W Rockford Fosgate 10 speaker iPod/MP3/USB ready stereo
– 8 standard airbags
– Electronic stability/traction control
– Performance y=tune suspension
– Bluetooth Hands free Calling
– and much more
Think of the Kizashi GTS as a VW Passat or an Audi A6 at the price of a Jetta.
Come to think of it, it even looks a bit like a Passat.
The basic "S" Kizashi starts at $18,999, and you still get the same impressive quality of materials that came in my more expensive tester.
Finally, for those living in snowy climates, you can also get a Kizashi with all wheel drive as a $1,250 option available at all of the trim levels but only with a CVT transmission.
Would I cross shop a AWD Kizashi with an Audi?
Probably not, but if you wanted the Audi driving experience for 10K to 15K less…the Kizashi is most certainly a realistic and worthy car to add to the top of your shopping list.
Roman Mica is a
columnist, journalist, and author, who spent his early
years driving fast on the German autobahn. When he's not reviewing cars
for the active set, you can find him training for triathlons and
writing about endurance sports for, EverymanTri.com.
Mica is also the Endurance
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