A couple of weeks ago, I relayed the tale of the Daewoo cars, including their wannabe midsize luxury yacht, the Leganza. Now it’s time to tell you the rest of the Leganza story — and be warned, it ain’t pretty.
I mentioned how Suzuki got saddled with several of the ex-Daewoo cars; most they simply rebadged and put on sale. But apparently someone, somewhere in the company, had higher hopes for the Leganza — and the Suzuki Verona was born. Technically, the Verona was a slightly larger development of the Leganza. General Motors owned both Daewoo and Suzuki, so when the time came to redesign the Leganza — and with Daewoo out of the U.S. market — General Motors simply sold it as a Suzuki and called it the Verona. See the Suzuki Verona models for sale near you
When it came out in 2004, the Verona’s big claim to fame was that Suzuki had managed to stuff a 2.5-liter straight-six engine under the hood … sideways. Unfortunately, this engine wasn’t any better at its job than the Leganza’s 2-liter four; with just 155 horsepower and a clunky old-tech 4-speed automatic, it delivered 4-cylinder acceleration with 6-cylinder fuel economy. As for the things that really needed improvement — like the terrible interior — those were, of course, pretty much left alone. The Verona lacked side airbags and anti-lock brakes, which, in retrospect, may have been rather merciful on Suzuki’s part, as the Verona seemed like the kind of car that would quickly erode one’s will to live.
Incidentally, Canada got a version called the Chevrolet Epica, presumably because Chevrolet’s reputation in Canada was a little too good and they needed to somehow cool the fires a bit.
Instead of reviewing the Verona myself, I assigned it to Jason Fogelson, because Jason is one of my best friends and I am a jerk. Jason is one of the more fair-minded car reviewers I know, and yet he hated virtually everything about the Verona. His opener: “Verona, Italy, is a magical place. Verona, New Jersey — not so much. The Suzuki Verona is more New Jersey than Italy.” In closing, he advised shoppers only to buy one if “the deal is really incredible — i.e. the dealership pays you to take the car.”
During Jason’s evaluation of the Verona, he told me how dire it was — so I asked to borrow it from him for a day. Surely it couldn’t be as awful as he said. It turns out he was being overly nice. After a half-day of driving the Verona, I wrote him an email: “Regarding the fabric on the doors and the seats, there is an angry mouse at my door and he wants his fur back.” Instead of sending this to Jason Fogelson, I accidentally sent it to Jason Camp, a member of Ford’s PR team. He laughed his butt off when I called to tell him about the slip-up — but I did notice that for the next year or so, all the Fords he sent my way had leather upholstery.
Back to our story: Despite all its shortcomings, the Verona turned out to be a surprisingly strong seller. Oh, wait, that’s wrong. It proved to be a slow seller by Suzuki’s standards, which weren’t very high, and they killed it off after 2006. Better things were to come — the SX4 and the Kizashi — but by then Suzuki was circling the drain. One can only wonder if the Verona helped pull on the handle. Find a Suzuki Verona for sale