Vehicle Overview
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 will begin by early 2004. Forenza prices are expected to run between $12,000 and $15,000.

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 119 horsepower. Rivals include the Honda Civic, Nissan Sentra and Toyota Corolla.

The front-wheel-drive Forenza will join Suzuki’s value-priced compact Aerio, which is considered the sportier model. Suzuki has a five-year plan under way, during which nine new models are planned for release.

Exterior
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.

Interior
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/cassette stereo system includes eight speakers, and integrated stereo controls go on the steering wheel. An uplevel edition can be fitted with leather seating surfaces and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearshift knob. Upscale models come with remote keyless entry, a remote trunk release 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 119 hp at 5,400 rpm and 128 pounds-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm. Either a five-speed manual or an optional four-speed-automatic transmission may be installed.

Safety
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.

 
Reported by Jim Flammang  for cars.com;
Posted on 5/7/03