The Kizashi Story

It all started almost 4 months ago.

I was driving the shuttle van for work. It was an ordinary, day of driving the same half mile loop for 8 hours straight. Then I saw it out of the corner of my eye. I nearly locked the brakes up and jumped out to go look. I had never really been able to get a good look at one before. It’s a car that I was aware of but knew nothing about, and I wanted to change that.

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The Kizashi is no doubt an unremarkable car to most of you. It was a footnote in the decline of Suzuki in North America. Maybe you’ve seen a few. Maybe you have and you don’t even know it. It is definitely the definition of a circa 2010 4 door sedan, with its high windowsills, snubby nose, gently bloated bodywork, and trunk that seems far too big for what it is. It’s a front wheel drive sedan with a two point something four cylinder engine, roughly the size of an Accord. Its feature of note was optional intelligent all wheel drive, but it could only be paired with the bane of enthusiastic driving, a CVT. As far as I and most others know, it is a car. for car-ing.

As I circled it with piqued curiosity I spotted this particular car’s saving grace, and the thing that would ultimately begin my journey with it. A manual shifter protruding from its center console, wrapped in leather and denoting six speeds.

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I ran inside to ask about it. It had just been taken in on trade by our most experienced salesman. A few questions later and i had the key fob in my hand.

Wait, key fob?

I looked it over. Sure enough, it had no key save for the emergency one lodged in its special compartment. It was reminiscent of the countless Nissan key fobs I had handled working at a dealership. This car has keyless entry. I thought Suzukis were cheap?

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When I went back out my theory was further disproved. Leather seats, leather wrapped steering wheel, dual zone climate control, power seats with memory for the driver, a moonroof, heated front seats with 3 levels, streaming bluetooth audio through a Rockford Fosgate audio system with hands free calling, automatic wipers and headlights, even rear parking sensors! This car is seriously nice, and its interior is in excellent condition as well.

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I put my name on it. At 94,484 miles the price was great, its exterior body damage wasn’t terrible and I figured “Hey, I’ll daily a weird car. It’ll be a conversation piece with air conditioning and good fuel economy.”

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I took it for a spin up and down the property and liked what i found. the suspension was in great shape, rapidly changing direction felt engaging and fun. there was plenty of power to move it, and the brakes, while a bit warped, stopped the car very well. Its Michelin tires were in good shape and gripped very well. the action on the shifter was great. I found the clutch to be a bit weird, but I figured it was one of those things that you just get used to.

Then the title problems happened.

When you sell a car, you sign the title. the previous owner was kind enough to do it twice, once as the buyer and once as the seller. This invalidated the title and the DMV rejected it, saying to turn in a properly filled out on or get bent. I suppose the previous owner was either uncooperative or my dealership chose not to reach out, but either way it took three and a half months before we had a title for it. It was ridiculous.

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During that time I lightly looked into forums and such to get an idea about this cars trim level. What i found was pretty shocking. I was apparently sitting in an incredibly rare vehicle. heres a breakdown I got from a forum:

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“S- offered with manual or CVT in all model years except CVT only in 2013, AWD option, with or without standard factory radio, no leather anything and manual seat adjustment.

  • SE- CVT only for all model years, standard stereo, (no ) Leather wrapped steering wheel, AWD option, mostly cloth seats, but some model years have a “leather edition”?
  • GTS- Comes with CVT or 6MT, (except 2013 which is CVT only) Rockford Fosgate stereo, AWD option for CVT, power seats/moonroof dropped for 2012 model year, added back for 2013 along with option for leather seats?
  • SLS- Top of the line, leather/power everything, AWD option, auto headlights, moonroof, RF Stereo or Kenwood/RF/Garmin unit, CVT only except for a handful of 2011 models that had the 6MT”
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So I had a unicorn on my hands.

Time passed, and as with every decision i make, my conviction began to wane. The whole time I was debating whether or not it was even a good idea. in that span of time I picked up the 323 GTX (which unfortunately will not be seen for a while.) and spent most of my money on it. I was having a blast with it and was barely thinking about the Kizashi.

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The title came in and I got excited again. I sat in it and remembered how i felt when i first saw it. I fired it up and the battery had held a charge. It was gonna happen. And thus I embarked on “the research,” a tradition of mine where I obsessively watch and read any piece of media about a car on its release, where i find forums and Facebook pages dedicated to the car and read peoples experiences, common modifications. What I found was a car designed with love.

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I’ll do another post with all the promotional videos I found, but I feel this car was Suzuki’s Magnum Opus. They put a ton of work into making this car a high quality, long lasting sports luxury sedan. They wanted sway young professionals from the likes of Lexus and Mercedes with an exciting vehicle using parts from the likes of KYB and Akebono. They tested it on the Nürburgring, They used BMW and Audi as benchmarks. And you know what? It worked.

I forked over the money and put my plates on it last Friday, I was blown away when I finally put this car on a public road. It handles incredibly well. The brakes are easily metered and super effective (thanks cop on the saw mill), the suspension is tight and the steering is quick with well tuned electric power steering. The tire size is 235/45/R18 and it shows in the amount of grip. This car is excellent. I couldn’t ask for a better daily driver. I’ve put over 500 miles on it already. I’ve had it allegedly over 100 already. And I can’t wait to do more with it and go more places with it.

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Kizashi means something good is coming. It couldn’t be more accurate.

(I’d like to thank my good friend Zach for allowing me to repost this story here. It’s a brilliant one about a brilliant car that I’m looking forward to driving when I visit New York in a few months. Hope you all enjoy!)

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