During routine use through town centres, on busy ring roads and clogged motorways, the Suzuki Kizashi is an effective, easy-driving car. Under part throttle it picks up speed in a gentle, unobtrusive fashion and maintains that speed reasonably well. It is at its best unhurriedly cruising along mixed urban and suburban roads.
But laid-back conveyances don’t need 18-inch wheels, wide tracks or bullet train brakes, which is why it’s so regrettable for Suzuki GB to have chosen a CVT-only powertrain for a car that otherwise has the makings of a sporty saloon.
When you want to make a quick departure at a busy roundabout or into a gap in traffic, the Kizashi is slow to step away from a standstill. Whether you just flatten the throttle or try to mitigate the problem by building engine power up against the brakes, cracking 30mph takes four seconds, which is slow for a car like this. A Toyota Prius is three-tenths of a second faster over the same distance.
Acceleration from there on isn’t so bad, but it’s the impression you get of that acceleration that’s the issue. The engine has to rev all the way to its redline to develop a decent chunk of torque with which to feed the continuously variable transmission, and that makes teasing optimum performance out of the Suzuki tiresome. Totally uninvolving, too, thanks to the shortage of control you have over the proportion of engine power that’s delivered to the wheels. Paddle shifters ought to allow more engagement with the driveline, but the manual mode is disappointingly slow to respond and adds very little to any sense of driver reward.