American Suzuki Motors Corp. kicks off a new incentive program today offering new-car buyers $100 to test drive the new-for-’10 Kizashi sports sedan.

The scheme asks shoppers to first fill out a program registration form and then drive the Kizashi before testing a ’10 Audi A4 2.0 or ’10 Acura TSX equipped with a 4-cyl. engine.

If the consumer chooses to buy the A4 or the TSX within 10 days of their Kizashi drive, Suzuki will give them a $100 check or a debit card of equal value.

Suzuki says the program, which launches as the Kizashi arrives at dealers this month and concludes Jan. 31, is designed to spur consumer interest and drive early sales of the car.

As with other auto makers selling into the worst recession in decades, Suzuki’s sales have sputtered this year. But since its customers tend to have poorer credit, Suzuki has felt the downturn particularly hard, with sales plunging 55% through November, according to Ward’s data.

The Kizashi, however, tries to solve that dilemma by appealing to a more affluent customer. Suzuki says it benchmarked the Kizashi against some of the world’s best sports sedans and promotes it as a “premium sports sedan with the premium.”

The Kizashi receives an all-aluminum, 2.4L DOHC inline 4-cyl. engine generating 185 hp in models equipped with a 6-speed manual gearbox and 180 hp in cars with continuously variable transmissions. Peak torque reaches 170 lb.-ft. (230 Nm) with either transmission.

Standard items include a push-button start, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls and integrated chrome dual exhaust tips. A pair of upper trims levels adds options such as a 10-way power driver’s seat, 18-in. tires and a 425-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system. All-wheel drive also comes optional, but only on models with the CVT.

Koichi Suzuki, executive vice president for the U.S. distributor of Japanese auto maker Suzuki Motor Corp., says of the incentive program: “We’re definitely putting Kizashi’s premium without the premium moniker to the test.”