After living with the Kizashi for three months, when it was used mainly as a suburban runabout plus one weekend away down south, the biggest disappointment is its fuel consumption.
The mid-sized sedan has an official combined consumption figure of 7.9L/100km. The only time I got even close to that was on the run to Margaret River when it used 8.0L/100km. The rest of the time around the metropolitan area it used just over 11.0L/100km, which puts it up in the same category as many large sedans and four-wheel-drives.
A reader who traded in his Mazda6 on a Kizashi said that while he liked the styling and interior finish of the Suzuki, as a sales rep who spends a lot of time in his car the fuel consumption was a major factor in his purchase decision.
He said he would average 8.6L/100km in his 2.3-litre Mazda6 but can only get 9.5L/100km in his 2.4-litre Kizashi.
"When you drive around 25,000km a year that does start to have an impact on your pocket," he said.
The same reader also complained of a vibration in his continuously variable transmission but was told by Suzuki that it was a characteristic of the CVT. After driving his car and the test vehicle back to back, there was a noticeable difference between the two.
The test car also had a slight vibration but it was not something that I believe would have been noticed by most drivers. But fuel consumption is the major flaw in a car that is otherwise easy to live with and enjoyable to drive.
Its driving dynamics are definitely slanted more to what you would expect in a European car than a Japanese model, and even with the 18-inch wheels on the top-of-the-range model we drove, comfort and noise levels were as good as any of its competitors. The steering also had a nice feel and even when driven enthusiastically body control remained relaxed and poised.
The Kizashi is one of those rare beasts in this part of the market that seems to respond better to heavy acceleration.
Visibility is hindered by the oversized A-pillars and the large side mirrors but in this era, where manufacturers are under increasing pressure to improve vehicle safety, this is not an uncommon problem.
While the interior does not set the benchmark in terms of design and colour - it is grey-on-grey with a hint of silver trim - it is both comfortable and practical.
The leather seats provide a decent amount of side bolstering and finding the right driving position is an easy operation thanks to the electric adjustment and the reach and rake adjustable steering wheel.
The steering wheel also has buttons for the audio system and cruise control plus paddles to enable the transmission to be changed manually.
It comes with a full safety package as outlined in the details panel of this story.
The Kizashi has self-levelling HID headlights, a sunroof, Rockford Fosgate sound system, rear parking sensors, rain-sensing wipers, auto headlights and 18-inch alloys.
But it does not include Bluetooth phone connectivity, which should be part of the standard features on all cars sold in Australia.
Yet for a first-up effort in this market segment, the Kizashi is a credit to Suzuki and a car that ranks with market leaders such as the Mazda6, Honda Accord Euro and Ford Mondeo.
ALL THE DETAILS
Price: $36,990 plus on-road costs
Safety features: Six airbags, electronic stability control, traction control, ABS with brake assist and electronic brake force distribution, seatbelt pre-tensioners, front and rear parking sensors, alarm
Features: Power steering, tilt and telescopic-adjust steering wheel with cruise and audio controls, keyless start, cruise control, power windows, dual-zone climate control, auto-dimming rear view mirror, electric front seats, leather upholstery, driver's seat lumbar support, MP3-compatible audio system with USB input and nine speakers, rain-sensing wipers, sunroof, 60/40 split rear seat, 18-inch alloy wheels with full-size spare
Engine: 2.4-litre four-cylinder
Transmission: Continuously Variable (CVT) with six-speed manual option
Claimed fuel consumption (combined): 7.9L/100km
Fuel type: 91-Ron unleaded petrol.
Fuel tank capacity: 63 litres
Kilometres travelled at delivery: 3730km
Kilometres travelled on test: 1164km
Fuel used: 107.85 litres
Fuel consumption: 9.3L/100km