Kizashi XL - Carsales


DOLLAR DAZZLERS - Family Cars under $30K.

By James Cleary | 20 May, 2011


When value-for-money sits at the top of the family car priority list, which model best suits the needs of your tribe and hip pocket? We look at a keenly priced, representative group of five, family cars around $30K

According to the Federal Government's Australian Institute of Family Studies, feeding, clothing, housing and educating an average Australian child through to adulthood can cost as much as a million dollars. More than just nappies and a few extra groceries in the pantry then!

Indeed, the cost of transporting little Vegemites to school, sport, holidays and the million and one other places you need to take them is a significant chunk of the emotional and financial investment many of us know as 'kids'.

There are numerous competing factors in play when deciding on a new family car. Purchase price is one of them. In this instance we've aimed directly at the heart of the matter. Looking at a range of cars in different configurations all priced under $30,000.

To help you get a grip on the sub-$30K family car market we've assessed it with some assumed criteria in place.

For example, we've worked on the premise that the hardware associated with newborn and toddlers, like prams, bags and other assorted kids 'stuff' needs to be accommodated. And if we're talking one, two (or three!) teenagers, they should be able to fit in the back with legs intact. Thus a bunch of small cars that easily meet our under-$30K price-point don't make the cut here as genuine 'family-size' trucksters.

And we've defined value as more than just a pricetag. Although the up-front cost is obviously important, a more holistic view incorporates equipment levels and safety, as well as on-going factors like fuel economy, servicing, warranty, insurance and retained value.

Covering every car on offer would mean constructing a website just for this story so we've focused on five diverse contenders, across a $5000 spread, to give you a flavour of what's available in the 20-something price bracket.

Suzuki Kizashi XL

Suzuki has stepped up to the big league (well, the bigger league anyway) in launching the Kizashi sedan in 2010; marking a coming of age for a brand known as a small car maker. At 4.6-metres long, the Kizashi doesn't quite stretch up to Ford Mondeo, Honda Accord or Mazda6 territory, but at 1.8-metres across it's just as wide; a critical measure for five-up comfort.

Its curvaceous lines, swoopy headlights and neatly tapered rear end set it apart from the mid-size pack in terms of design. And with 131kW/230Nm on tap from its 2.4-litre four cylinder petrol engine, married to a standard six-speed manual gearbox, in a car weighing only 1.4-tonnes, performance is strong. And 7.9L/100km combined cycle economy is excellent.

Materials, fit and finish are all high quality, and the contemporary interior design mirrors the exterior with a premium feel. And the Kizashi's surprisingly spacious, the car's width delivering good rear shoulder and hip room, while rear legroom and cargo space are also generous.

Passenger and load flexibility is a forte, with a 60:40 split-folding rear seatback, and ski-port opening to the boot for long thin loads like, well, skis. There are numerous spaces and holders for items large and small in doors, centre console and seat pockets.

Standard equipment includes 17-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate-control air-conditioning, cruise control, electric windows, seven-speaker CD stereo with USB (iPod) connectivity and steering wheel controls and remote central locking.

Suzuki's background in developed small hot hatches like the Swift has stood it in good stead with the bigger Kizashi, with an excellent compromise between ride comfort, on-road refinement and sharp dynamics achieved.

On the safety front the Kizashi ticks all the right boxes with four wheel disc brakes (ventilated front) with anti-lock  and electronic brake force distribution (EBD), as well as stability and traction control. And airbags abound for passive safety back-up, with twin front, side and curtain systems included in the entry-level model.

IN BRIEF: A 'big' step for Suzuki and a worthy family sedan contender. High quality and fully equipped, offering good space, performance and economy.

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