Thursday, May 24, 2007

Suzuki Reno

When the Reno debuted as a 2005 model, Suzuki said its new crossover hatchback was aimed at "versatility-seeking buyers of all ages." Suzuki claimed the Reno delivered "the style and sportiness of a European sedan" with the functionality of a five-door hatchback.

Offered in a single trim level for 2007, the five-door, front-wheel-drive hatchback was designed by Italdesign in Italy. The Reno's option packages have been revised, and a tire pressure monitoring system and all-disc antilock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution are now standard.

Reno competitors include the Hyundai Elantra, Mazda3 and Toyota Matrix. Suzuki also stresses the Reno's customization potential.

Compact in size, the Reno hatchback has almond-shaped headlights that flank a grille sporting the Suzuki logo. What Suzuki calls "muscular" wheel arches surround 15-inch steel wheels. Wraparound taillights bring up the rear.

Suzuki highlights the Reno's "gracefully rising style lines and athletically refined side profile." The door handles are color-keyed, and the car has protective bodyside moldings. Heated power mirrors are standard, and a power moonroof is available. Built on a 102.4-inch wheelbase, the Reno is 169.1 inches long overall and 56.9 inches tall.

Suzuki says the five-occupant Reno has more front and rear legroom than the Mazda3 or Matrix. Three head restraints are fitted to a 60/40-split, folding rear seat. Standard seating surfaces in the two-tone interior are cloth-upholstered.

Speed-sensitive power steering is standard, and the driver's seat has height and lumbar adjustments. Cargo capacity when the backseat is upright measures 8.8 cubic feet, expanding to a maximum of 45.4 cubic feet.

Standard equipment includes an eight-speaker cassette/CD stereo, air conditioning, a rear-window defroster, and power windows, locks and heated mirrors. Suzuki's Convenience Package adds a CD/MP3 stereo with steering-wheel controls, cruise control, remote keyless entry and a moonroof.

Under the Hood
Suzuki's 2.0-liter four-cylinder produces 127 horsepower and 131 pounds-feet of torque. Either a four-speed automatic or five-speed manual transmission can be installed.

All-disc antilock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution are now standard, as are seat-mounted side-impact airbags.

Driving Impressions
Manual-shift Renos provide spirited performance. Well-matched gear ratios and a mannerly clutch make smooth takeoffs easy.

Nimble around town, the Reno zips around corners with zest. The ride is surprisingly pleasant even on lumpy city streets. Other than very slight engine buzz when accelerating at low speeds, the Reno is quiet. The brakes have a spongy feel, and the gearshift is a bit rubbery.

Front-seat space is abundant. The outer rear seats are adequate but snug, and the center rear position is a high, hard perch — though it's not the worst in a small car. The gauges are simple but adequate, and the radio controls are hard to decipher. Head restraints partially block the rearward view. Cargo space is essentially a covered well.

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