First Look: Suzuki Kizashi Apex Concept

We're big fans of the Suzuki Kizashi, admiring its smart styling, practicality, and engaging handling dynamics. The one area we'd address is acceleration, which is competent but hardly awe-inspiring, thanks to a 2.4-liter inline-four offering 185 horsepower (180 with continuously variable transmissions) and 170 pound-feet of torque. Suzuki will cater to our speed-freak side with a turbocharged Kizashi capable of up to 300 horsepower, debuting at the New York auto show.

This isn't the first time that Suzuki has given in to the need for speed, having previously contracted Road Race Motorsport to build a 290-horsepower Kizashi Turbo for last year's Specialty Equipment Market Association show. Although considerably quicker than its donor car, the RRM Kizashi car felt unrefined, with excessive turbo lag and overly stiff suspension that made for a jarring ride. RRM also built a 221-horsepower Suzuki SX4t back in 2008, which was quicker than the regular 143-horsepower SX4 but also suffered from poor suspension tuning.

The Suzuki Apex concept is an in-house performance proposition in the same vein as those cars. The Kizashi's engine scores a Garrett turbocharger huffing 8.5 psi of boost, a dual exhaust system, and a compact water-to-air intercooler that Suzuki says reduces turbo lag. Maximum horsepower is expected to be in the range of 275 to 300, about 50 percent more than stock. The upgraded engine can be equipped only with the Kizashi's six-speed manual transmission.

Suzuki wants this performance sedan to highlight the brand's motorcycle heritage, and thus endowed the Apex concept with HID headlights from the Euro-market Kizashi, LED foglights, and graphics inspired by the GSX-R race motorcycle. Inside are black leather seats with blue Alcantara inserts. To transmit the additional power to the pavement, Suzuki fitted the Apex with "burnt asphalt" alloy wheels wearing sticky Yokohama S.Drive tires.

The current Kizashi already provides an athletic driving experience with just 185 horsepower on tap, so we expect a high-horsepower turbo version would be a truly exciting sports sedan. As for whether a car based on the Apex concept will reach dealerships, Suzuki executives have previously said they want more powerful engines to stretch the performance of the Kizashi's chassis. The company has hinted a more-powerful Kizashi with either small V-6 or a turbocharged four-cylinder - the latter rumored to come from Volkswagen -- would appear at a later date.

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