Suzuki, best known for its sporty motorbike engines and afterthought compact vehicles, is a company worth watching.
Introduced by the song, " It's a beautiful day," American Suzuki Motor Corp. (ASMC) President Rick Suzuki, recently explained how his company plans to triple business over the next 5 years with the launch of 9 new vehicles. Suzuki is growing with projected annual sales of 200,000 vehicles in the US at the end of 5 years and a partnership with GM on the development of fuel cell vehicles.
Suzuki's first new baby is the 2004 Verona, a stylish mid-size sedan with the only standard inline 6-cylinder in its class. The 2.5-liter engine with 155 horsepower and 177 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,000 rpm is mated with a four-speed adaptive automatic transmission. The price tag starts under $17,000.
Designed by Italdesign in Turin, Italy, the sedan has a fluid European profile with a slightly crouching stance. The large greenhouse, created by raked glass both front and rear, provides high visibility. Wheels and tires are 15 inches, but generous wheel wells give the impression of a larger size.
Built-in slots allow for easy installation of roof racks for bikes, kayaks and gear and the trunk is a generous 13.4 cubic feet.
The comfortable cabin is made for five but seats four comfortably. Behind the wheel, the layout is uncluttered, with large black on white numerical gauges, the speedometer featured in the center circle. The center dash is straightforward, with thoughtful touches such as an ambient temperature display. The standard model had a cozy seat covering that reminded my driving partner of her flannel pajamas, Luxury touches such as a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, wood grain touché, tilt steering, six-way adjustable driver's seat with adjustable lumbar support, rear heating vents, six-speaker CD stereo, micron-filtered air conditioning, a padded fold-down rear center armrest, illuminated vanity mirrors, heated exterior mirrors and steering wheel mounted audio controls, and halogen headlamps are standard equipment.
On a test drive on the crowded highways and energetic back roads of Southern California, the Verona had enough boost for highway passing and would stay steady at 70 mph plus without a wince.
The engine sound had a little bit of a whine, a quality that appeals to the racecar Mom in me. I did have to " push the pedal to the medal" getting out into rush-hour/surfing traffic but once you get the speed up the Verona stays peppy.
The ride even on unsteady roads-- quiet, sturdy, sure. The suspension includes MacPherson struts up front with a sophisticated multi-link arrangement in back, including a front anti-sway bar reducing lean through corners. Gas-charged shock absorbers provide wheel control while resisting heat-induced fade. In addition, speed-sensing power steering adjusts the amount of steering assist to create stability no matter what the vehicle's speed.
The up-level LX adds a few amenities, notably ABS, alloy wheels and automatic climate control, while the top-of-the-lineup EX has heated leather seats, a power sunroof and eight-way power adjustable driver's
The up-level LX adds a few amenities, notably ABS, alloy wheels and automatic climate control, while the top-of-the-lineup EX has heated leather seats, a power sunroof and eight-way power adjustable driver's seat.