Suzuki Kizashi Ltd & Sport 2010 Review

November 12th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Changing brand perception isn’t an easy task; consumers often have strong mental associations that can be difficult to break down. Suzuki is well known by most for its motorbikes and successful range of small cars like the Swift. But Suzuki decided a few years back that this image wasn’t enough and it wanted to be seen as a full strength carmaker. The only way Suzuki could see to show it’s a heavy hitter was to move up a weight division into the mid-size sedan segment. Now, after learning the ropes with a series of concept cars Suzuki has unleashed the production version of its Kizashi sedan for the NZ market. But will it have the deft moves and raw firepower to trouble the established journeyman of this hard fought category? Car and SUV spent some time ringside with the Kizashi Limited and the Kizashi Sport to find out more.

So how does it look?

The Kizashi’s Euro-inspired styling is athletic and handsome with a strong road presence and clever branding. A large Suzuki logo is framed at the front by a wide mesh grille and large HID headlights. A curved bonnet pushes back into lean shoulder lines and thick C-pillars add to the muscular look. But it’s the Kizashi’s rear design which is most distinctive with its curved boot lid, wrap around taillights and integrated stainless steel exhaust covers that pay homage to Suzuki’s motorcycle designs. The stumpy boot and minimal rear overhang help make the Kizashi look compact but boot capacity is surprisingly large at 461-litres.

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Suzuki Grand Vitara boasts extra features for NZ market

November 10th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

The popular Suzuki Grand Vitara has just been given some serious product upgrades for the NZ market.

Electronic stability programme (ESP) and cruise control are now standard across the Grand Vitara range, including the entry level three-door 2.4 JLX.

The LTD Flagship version of the five-door 2.4 four-cylinder models available in New Zealand is now equipped with seven-spoke 18 inch diameter alloy wheels shod with 225/65 series tyres. Previously these wheels were an optional extra.

All versions have climate control air conditioning, trip and fuel computer, alloy wheels and anti-lock brakes with EBD and brake assist.

The Grand Vitara’s braking capability has also been improved by standard fitment of four wheel disc brakes, underpinning the vehicle’s high safety standards.

“We have had strong business enquiry for Grand Vitara from clients who have requirements for a low range four wheel drive but would like a more compact and affordable vehicle than a double cab utility,” said Gary Collins, sales manager for Suzuki New Zealand.

More than 2.5 million Grand Vitaras have been sold world-wide, and the model has racked up more than 35 awards.

On-road recommended retail prices start from $31,690 for the three-door 2.4 model with five-speed manual transmission extending to $41,990 for the five-door 2.4 LTD and $46,990 for the five-door 3.2 litre V6 LTD.

Click here to read a Car and SUV review of the Suzuki Grand Vitara.

Suzuki previews superbike inspired Swift R Concept

October 15th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

The Suzuki Swift has dominated the small car scene here in NZ for a few years now but its never really had much to offer genuine hot hatch fans. That may change in the future with the next-generation 2011 model.

There will be plenty of economy-focused, low-spec models to please the masses in the new Swift range, but to build some serious excitement for the launch Suzuki is preparing a pumped up 2011 Suzuki Swift R Concept to present at the Beijing Auto Show next year.

Apparently, it draws on inspiration from Suzuki’s line of GSX-R ‘superbikes’, the new Swift R Concept will feature an aggressive wide body kit wrapped around pumped up guards and fat tyres. The concept car has also been lowered with a custom sports suspension setup, with the camber adjusted to give it a more menacing stance.

No official specs have been released at this stage but power is expected to come from a turbocharged 1.4-litre four-cylinder engine rated at 135kW and it will send the power exclusively to the front wheels via a seven-speed dual clutch transmission.

Look out for more info on the Swift R Concept when it debuts next year.

Suzuki releases Swift SR7 Special Edition into NZ market

September 28th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Suzuki NZ has just announced a new limited edition version of its ever-popular Swift to be introduced into the New Zealand market.

The SR7 Special Edition adaption of the Swift five-door hatchback celebrates an unbroken record of leading sales in the small car category. The Swift was highest selling super-mini for the fourth successive year in 2009 and has continued its number one position on the local market this year.

Based on the 1.5-litre Swift GLX model with six airbags, the new SR7 model includes a number of special features as standard. A black spoiler and skirting kit is included with special wheel arch mouldings, side body skirts, and door mouldings featuring.

Filling the wheel arches are 17-inch diameter MAK7 aluminium alloy road wheels finished with a liquid smoke background. These special wheels are shod with Bridgestone MY01 205/40 low profile R17 tyres.

Available with the choice of a 5-speed manual gearbox or automatic transmission, the Swift is also given SR7 body graphics and an optional rear upper spoiler is available to special order.

Suzuki is offering the SR7 in seven colours – Bluish Black, Azure Grey, Pearly White, Shiny Green, Supreme Red, Silky Silver and Kashmir Blue Pearl Metallic.

“The SR7 represents outstanding value, with $4,000 worth of accessories as standard and a retail price similar to the Swift GLX model,” said Tom Peck, General Manager of Marketing for Suzuki New Zealand.

“With its youthful good looks and responsive handling, the Swift has become something of an icon and the SR7 adds an extra slice of attitude,” he said. “The added enhancements make this latest Swift stand out from the crowd but production numbers will be limited.”

In manual form, the Swift SR7 goes on sale at a recommended on-road price of $22,500, with a $1,490 premium for the automatic variant.

Manual transmission SR7 models are fitted with a Coby sports rear muffler.

The SR7 is additional to the Swift range which also includes XE, GLX, Sport, RS Limited and Limited versions.

Suzuki SX4 Ltd Sporthatch 2010 Review

June 11th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

When most people think of a compact hatchback made by Suzuki it’s one model they usually have in mind — the Swift. But the Suzuki range has another small hatch within its ranks named the SX4. Riding higher than the Swift and with a larger engine the crossover-inspired SX4 hasn’t been able to match the Swift’s popularity since it was first introduced back in 2007. Back then, some claimed the SX4 was too thirsty for a small car and commented on the absence of a stability control system. Now for 2010, the SX4 is fighting back with a revised model range that features a CVT transmission, improved economy and better safety credentials. Car and SUV spent a week in the facelifted SX4 to see if it’s ready to emerge from behind its Swift sibling’s sizable shadow.

So what’s new on the 2010 model? Well, plenty, just not much in terms of exterior sheet metal. Some subtle tweaks feature up front in a new grille design and on our tested Ltd-spec model, sharp 17-inch alloys fill the guards. Elsewhere it’s a smart-looking hatchback with a tall but progressive stance, raked back headlights and a distinctive wrap-around rear windshield. The Ltd Sporthatch receives extras like front fog lamps and a sports-styled skirting kit with high mounted rear spoiler. Overall, the SX4’s looks aren’t exactly groundbreaking and while slightly generic, do still carry a broad modern appeal.

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Suzuki Alto 2010 Review

February 19th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Often being successful means playing to your natural strengths, which is why you never see 7-foot tall jockeys and likewise with 5-foot tall basketball players. For Suzuki, its strength is in small cars, it’s where success has been found in the past, currently with the Swift, and where opportunities exist for the future. Suzuki’s latest weapon in the increasingly city car battleground is the new Alto. Now in its seventh-generation the Alto is an international success story having sold more than 10 million units over a 30-year period. Not all models have made it to NZ but this writer’s mother once owned the first generation and spent many childhood holiday road trips wondering why large trucks were overtaking our car when I was sure it should be the other way round. Now, with any flashbacks well-repressed Car and SUV spent a week with the fresh-faced Alto to find its strengths and uncover any weaknesses.

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It’s not pink it’s Salmon

January 29th, 2010 by Adam

I told myself that this day would come, that there would be a time I would have to man-up and deal with the rough cards dealt out. The man at the Suzuki dealership and I stood together, little was said but we both knew that it was time I left and took the new Suzuki Alto press vehicle for review with me.

The Alto is a micro car with an ultra economical three-cylinder engine, not exactly as masculine as a HSV or Toyota Hilux but that wasn’t the problem. The small issue laid in the Alto’s colour, it’s a special hue, a blend of red and white you could say. Or alternatively you could call it pink.

As I pulled away from the dealership, I told myself not to feel self-conscious and it was just a colour. I quickly tuned the radio station to The Rock and reclined the seat back perhaps a little further than I usually would. There wasn’t an issue here nothing to see, or so I thought. At the first set of lights I reached a lowered Subaru Legacy pulled up alongside and two young men looked over at me, talking and laughing between themselves. I fought off an urge to drop the window and explain how I happened to be driving a pink micro car. Instead I let the 1000cc three-cylinders of fury sitting beneath the Alto’s bonnet do the talking, and they saw who was boss for about 0.3 seconds before they made me eat their carbon emissions and screamed off.

So the episode left me thinking: Is a man who drives a pink car still a man?

The answer isn’t an easy one, it’s not like getting into the driver’s seat of a pink car is instant castration, it’s more about the conscious decision to use a pink vehicle as your preferred mode of transport. For me the choice hadn’t been my own, it was a requirement of my work, so yes I remained a man. Which was lucky cause I wasn’t ready to give up slashing outdoors and not drying my back properly after a shower.

In fact, you could say the ability to drive a pink car and not be affected by other people’s assumptions could be a way of strengthening masculinity. Isn’t that why pink shirts were a fad for guys a while back, oh that’s right, salmon coloured shirts.

So later that same day I was out again in my pink Alto press car, when I stopped at an intersection and a young lady smiled at me. Now, I’ve driven many expensive and powerful vehicles this year and this has never really happened before. So what was special about the pink Alto, well you can make up your own mind, but I think it’s because she saw me not as a guy in a pink car, but more as a man with a story to tell.

So I just did.

Suzuki Swift

December 20th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Technology you love to drive – Maruti Suzuki Swift