Unveiled at the Chicago Auto Show in February 2003, Suzuki’s new premium compact sedan actually began its life as a Daewoo vehicle. Like the company’s brand-new midsize Verona sedan, which was also introduced at the Chicago Auto Show, it’s a product of General Motors’ investment in the bankrupt Daewoo organization of South Korea. GM owns a stake in Suzuki.
General Motors initially shunned the idea of marketing any Daewoo-derived products under its own nameplates or those with a Suzuki badge. That decision was revised during 2002, and GM Daewoo Auto and Technology (GMDAT) in Korea will manufacture the new models.
Both the Forenza and Verona target value-seeking buyers. Sales began by early 2004. Three trim levels are available: base S, midrange LX and upscale EX.
The Italian-sounding name stems from the fact that the Forenza and its Verona companion were both designed by Italian stylists. The Forenza was partially designed by Pininfarina. A 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is rated at 126 horsepower. Rivals include the Honda Civic, Nissan Sentra and Toyota Corolla.
The front-wheel-drive Forenza joins Suzuki’s value-priced compact Aerio, which is considered the sportier model. A Forenza Wagon joins the sedan in the 2005 model year. Suzuki has a five-year plan under way, during which nine new models are planned for release.
A six-window greenhouse-style exterior helps give the driver a good view all around. Suzuki touts the Forenza’s “gracefully curved roofline and uniquely free-flowing silhouette” by noting that it provides maximum visibility.
Euro-styled dual cylindrical halogen headlights are complemented by clear, oversized, high-tech taillamps. Flower-shaped reflector beams illuminate when the brakes are applied. The doors are protected by color-keyed side moldings and door handles.
Speed-sensitive power steering and all-disc brakes are installed. Fog lamps and a power tilt-and-slide sunroof will be optional. Measuring 177.2 inches long overall, the Forenza rides a 102.4-inch wheelbase and stands 56.9 inches tall. Steel or aluminum wheels hold 15-inch tires. A sunroof is installed on LX and EX models.
Five people fit inside the Forenza, which features a horizontally themed interior with metallic silver accents. The instrument clusters are rimmed with metallic silver, and the panel emits a jade-green glow for night driving. Equipped with three headrests, the 60/40-split rear seats fold flat to reveal a trunk pass-thru.
Dual-height and lumbar support adjustments are included, along with a tilt steering wheel. The sun visors contain vanity mirrors, and a rear-window defroster is standard. The padded front center armrest contains a storage compartment, and the center console features dual cupholders. The driver has access to a change tray.
Standard features include heated mirrors and power windows and locks. A standard in-dash CD stereo system includes eight speakers, and integrated stereo controls go on the steering wheel. Uplevel editions can be fitted with a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearshift knob, and the EX may have leather seating surfaces. Upscale models come with remote keyless entry and an anti-theft device. Trunk space totals 12.4 cubic feet.
Under the Hood
A dual-overhead-cam, 16-valve, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine produces 126 hp at 5,600 rpm and 131 pounds-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm. Either a five-speed manual or an optional four-speed-automatic transmission may be installed.
All-disc antilock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and traction control are optional. Side-impact airbags are not available. Each rear occupant gets a three-point seat belt.