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> Friday, June 1st, 2012 > Sports > A day at the motorway
A day at the motorway
Victor De Jong
Click here to read more Interrobang articles written by Victor De Jong
Published: Friday, June 1st, 2012
“Drive it like it’s rented under someone else’s name.” That was the mantra of my instructor as I slid behind the wheel of the 2012 Suzuki Kizashi for the first time. A few seconds later, while blasting through a 360-degree turn, it became apparent that this car is a lot of fun.
The Kizashi boasts all-wheel drive, 180 hp and, if you get the Sport or the SX model, a 10-speaker Rockford Fosgate sound system. Each of these features is worth noting, yet the car is more than the sum of its parts and these elements all contribute to a complete package that is sure to impress.
Back up three hours to the Interrobang office. I was checking for community events to write about and came across an exhibition by a local business, Ultimate Suzuki, for the new Kizashi that was running that afternoon. I gave them a call, found out I’d spoken for the last spot, and set out for the Grand Bend Motorplex. After a short debriefing, we were brought out to the track where 10 cars were lined up in two rows. Two of our hosts for the day hopped in the lead cars and we followed them through the course in a Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, Nissan Altima and a Toyota Camry. After trying out the competition, we got behind the wheel of the Suzuki Kizashi to judge for ourselves.
It’s a great ride. The Kizashi is responsive, quick and not too hard on the eyes. I’ll be the first to say it, though: I know nothing about cars. Seriously! I drove a Ford Contour in high school, and an old ’97 Jetta now and again. That being said, it gave me the chance to ignore all the numbers and judge the car based on how fun it was to drive. Technical jargon came secondary to my observation that this car goes where I want it to, as fast as I want it to, while keeping me in complete control.
Unlike the other models, the Kizashi loves to corner. Out of the bunch, the Sonata was kind of the runt of the litter: awkward, a little slow and not very responsive. Despite its huge sales, the Sonata corners like a boat. The comfort and spaciousness translate into a ride that’s only about as exciting for the driver as it would be for a passenger. Enough criticising, though; I only mention the Sonata’s drawbacks because the Kizashi proves that you don’t need to settle for less with a midsize sedan.
After we drove the Kizashis through the track and through a defensive driving course they’d set up for us, some pros hopped behind the wheel to show us how it’s done. You can find a link to my run, which was recorded on my iPhone, on the Interrobang website – notice the tire screeching and maniacal laughter as you watch! You can also check out the official footage at tinyurl.com/victorgoesvroom. If driving the course myself felt fast, the pro drivers really put ‘fast’ into perspective.
My last word is go test-drive a Kizashi. It hasn’t garnered higher sales because Suzuki dealerships are much fewer and further between here in North America and people simply don’t know about their products. With a base model under $20,000, you owe it to yourself to consider the Suzuki option.
If the thought of slamming on the brakes, parallel parking or even putting a car in reverse makes you cringe, Ultimate Suzuki is here to help. Starting on June 12, there will be a free First Time Drivers – Fun Driving Clinic every second Tuesday of the month through October: June 12, July 10, August 14, September 11 and October 9. To register or for more information, contact Don Clarke at Ultimate Suzuki London: 519-686- 3754 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Ultimate Suzuki is located at 940 Wharncliffe Rd. S.
At the safety debrief, our instructor Gerry Low commented that we rarely hear about drivers being at fault in accidents, we generally hear about factors like speed and alcohol. There are many levels of driving ability but some simple tips may be all you’re lacking to improve.
- One effective strategy is to consciously look for where you want to be before you get there. Inexperienced drivers, we were told, have a tendency to look down at the hood of the car and the road immediately in front of it. This style of driving is what leads to obstacles appearing seemingly out of nowhere and creating dangerous scenarios. At 100 km/h your vehicle travels several meters every onetenth of a second, and every fraction of a second counts when it comes to accident avoidance.
- Your position in the car also has a marked effect in how much control you’ll have. In a proper driving position, the seat should be far enough forward that there’s a slight bend in your leg to allow full range of motion on the brake and gas pedal.
- You should be able to rest your wrists on the top of the wheel while keeping your shoulder blades resting against the back of your seat. If you’re holding the wheel at “9-and- 3,” you should be able to turn the wheel in both direction to the “lock” position (where you’re unable to turn the wheel further without releasing it) without either shoulder losing contact with your seat.