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Image5. Suzuki Kizashi

Suzuki has a solid reputation for smooth, powerful performance. Keeping that in mind, the Suzuki Kizashi, a mid-size car, was unveiled in the United States on July 30, 2009.

The Kizashi went on sale in Japan on October 21, 2009, in North America on December 1, 2009, and in Australia on May 11, 2010. In Japanese, Kizashi means 'omen', 'sign', or 'warning' possibly to suggest to other automobile manufacturers that the Kizashi is an example of products to come from Suzuki in the future.

The Kizashi aspires to be Suzuki's flagship sedan and currently exceeds the Japanese government's regulations concerning exterior dimensions and engine displacement for cars classified as 'compact'.

Kizashi was recently in the news because on June 28, 2010 Suzuki recalled 5107 model year 2010 Kizashi vehicles due to a glove box door that failed to comply with FMVSS 201 ('Occupant Protection in Interior Impact') in which the door could open in a crash.

Maruti Suzuki is planning to introduce its premium sedan model Kizashi in the Indian car market. It had unveiled the model at the Delhi Auto Expo 2010 in January but had deferred its plans to introduce the car till end of the year.

It has already launched the car in the Japanese and the American market where it is quite successful. The new beast from Suzuki stable is ready to hit the Indian scenario by December this year.

The Kizashi will be the fifth sedan in the Indian market after Esteem, Swift Dzire, SX4 and Baleno. It will be powered by 2.4L petrol engine which will churn out 185 bhp and will feature six-speed manual transmission. The American variant gets the option of CVT as well.

Concept Kizashi: The first Kizashi concept included a 2L, 4-valve turbo diesel engine, sequential 6-speed transmission, 21-inch aluminium alloy wheels, and AWD -- and was unveiled at the 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show.

Concept Kizashi 2: The second Kizashi concept was a 5-door crossover sport wagon that included a 3,564 cc (3.564 L; 217.5 cu in) V6 engine, 6-speed automatic transmission, i-AWD, and 265/45ZR22 tires -- and was unveiled at the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show.

Concept Kizashi 3: The third Kizashi concept was an AWD vehicle that included a 3,564 cc (3.564 L; 217.5 cu in) V6 engine rated 300 hp, 6-speed automatic transmission, and 21-inch aluminium wheels with 255/30ZR21 tires. Concept Kizashi 3 was unveiled at the 2008 New York auto show.

Exterior: The Kizashi is a great looking car with the fit and finish that belie its humble origins. Multi-spoke polished aluminium sport wheels, tight body clearances and attractive body lines give the Suzuki a strong street presence.

The Kizashi offers 17 and 18-inch alloy wheels, Akebono sourced brakes and keyless ignition. You'll be forgiven for thinking that this sedan is built by Volkswagen or Audi.

Engine: Standard equipment includes front-wheel drive and a 2.4 litre 4-cylinder engine developing 185 hp (138 kW) and 170 lb ft (230 N m) of torque. Available transmissions are a 6-speed manual or a CVT. The CVT version reduces power to 180 hp (134 kW), and has a 100 kilometres per hour (62 mph) time of about 8 seconds.

Interior: Inside, the Kizashi offers a choice of cloth or leather seating surfaces, and a 425-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system with iPod connectivity and Bluetooth capability.

All wheel drive (based on the i-AWD system featured in the Suzuki SX-4) is optional and includes a driver-activated FWD mode to save fuel. The dash has a layout that packs a lot of features into a tidy package. A dual-zone auto climate system is standard. So are a 10-way power driver's seat, tilt and telescoping steering wheel, power sunroof, and trip computer.

Overall Evaluation: In Europe (England) the Suzuki Kizashi comes with a seven-year/100,000-mile power train warranty -- which is fully transferable.

Price: In India, it is likely to be positioned in the Rs 10-lakh-plus (Rs 1 million-plus) category of sedans.

Image: Suzuki Kizashi