Suzuki planning Swift action
Japanese executives have gone home with big plans after their Outback journey, writes NEIL McDONALD
THE heavy hitters from Suzuki are taking more than just happy snaps of last week’s Grand Vitara Australian Outback adventure back to Japan.
Tucked into board member and senior managing executive officer global marketing Toshihiro Suzuki’s luggage will be a folder containing a big wishlist from Suzuki Australia.
His colleagues — Oceania mar- keting chief Satoshi Shimizu, sales planning boss Takahiko Hashimoto and product planning manager Motoki Harada, also have a clearer understanding of what local buyers want after driving 250km through the Aussie Outback.
The company’s Australian boss Tony Devers says there are several key cars on this wishlist.
The return of the car that started it all for Suzuki back in 1980, the three-door GTi, is one contender.
Devers wants it back here to challenge the Peugeot 207 GTi and Volkswagen Polo GTi, and he reckons there’s a good chance.
‘‘It’s one of the things we’re looking at,’’ he says.
With the popular Swift hatch responsible for half of the company’s local sales, Devers says a GTi three-door would be a bonus.
A three-door Swift GTi will probably get the same 92kW/148Nm 1.6-litre VVT four-cylinder as the Swift Sport.
Apart from the small hot hatch, Devers is looking at light commercials and a bigger four-wheel drive than the Grand Vitara.
‘‘We’d like a Nissan Navara-type light commercial,’’ he says.
Devers also wants a more upmarket ‘‘European’’ brand focus in readiness for the Kizashi mid-size sedan, which is due to go on sale late 2009 or early 2010. An almost production-ready model will be at the Sydney Motor Show in October.
The concept has a new 2.0-litre turbodiesel with six-speed sequential automatic driving all four-wheels.
‘‘We’ve got the option of taking late 2009 production, but we don’t want to release the car into the holiday period so we might hold it back to January 2010,’’ he says.
The bigger seven-seater offroader will follow the crossover philosophy of some of Suzuki’s rivals and be on sale in 2010.
The Suzuki XL7 is available as a left-hand drive model only in North America, but a newer off-roader is being designed and is likely to be available in right-hand drive.
Chance: (left) the Suzuki XL7, which made its debut at the 2006 New York International Auto Show. Challenger: (right) the Suzuki Swift GTi could return to take on Peugeot and Volkswagen.