SUZUKI has made its fortunes in the realms of small hatchbacks and lightweight 4x4s but is now boldly entering new territory with the Kizashi saloon.
The Kizashi is a move to tempt drivers seeking individuality away from mainstream models such as the Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Insignia.
You would not exactly label it a potent premium contender to compete against Audi and BMW, but it is very well equipped and remarkably lively.
To make hay in the highly-competitive saloon the market the Kizashi features a switchable two/four-wheel-drive system as standard equipment with CVT automatic transmission featuring steering-column mounted paddle switches for manual changes when required.
The new Suzuki flagship model typically focuses the old Suzuki philosophy of content and value tipping the price scale at £21,995.
It is certainly the smartest Suzuki I have ever driven but it is held back with only one engine option, a 2.4 DOHC four-cylinder in-line petrol which is lively enough with its 178ps output.
With a combined economy rating of only 34mpg it is understandable that a number of customers in this sector would be happier with a turbo-diesel carrying a more advantageous figure of more than 45mpg.
But Suzuki is not looking for volume sales with this car, predicting that only around 500 cars will be sold during 2012.
This makes it more of an individual choice for those who may have owned smaller Suzukis in the past and want the full hit of the Suzuki brand in a larger model.
It is lively and an entertaining drive with 127mph on tap and 0-62mph acceleration in 8.8 seconds.
One of the most significant features is the switchable all-wheel-drive which gives added grip in poor or demanding conditions, providing an extra application to tackle the rigours of the British winter. It is not a dedicated 4WD but the extra grip is a bonus in tricky conditions.
The Sport model I drove features luxurious items like high quality leather upholstery and is without doubt a Suzuki like we have never previously seen, featuring sill extensions, lower body side mouldings, 18-inch alloy wheels and a unique sports steering wheel.
With plenty of room for five and their luggage needs it does it all in style and its sleek looks attracted a number of second glances.
For added practicality, the Kizashi features a through loading system to allow for longer items to be loaded from the boot. .
It is highly equipped as standard including seven airbags; four electric windows, MP3/WMA compatible CD tuner with eight speakers, Dual Zone automatic air conditioning, keyless entry and start and folding heated door mirrors. The sole option for Kizashi will be a touch screen satellite navigation system, available as a dealer fit.
With healthy global sales, Kizashi has already proved itself against some stiff opposition and is a desirable niche option in the UK for those seeking a lively petrol saloon with Suzuki DNA.
Suzuki Kizashi Sport
Mechanical: 178bhp, 2,393cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via CVT automatic gearbox
Max speed: 127mph
0-62mph: 8.8 seconds
Combined mpg: 34
Insurance group: 26
CO2 emissions: 191g/km
BIK rating: 28%
Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles