In­spi­ra­tion for a bright fu­ture

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News - Paul Gover Na­tional edi­tor

THE world has one man to thank for the classy cars com­ing from Suzuki. The late Hiro­taka Ono was a vi­sion­ary who rein­vented the Ja­panese brand and changed ev­ery­thing, from boost­ing the qual­ity of its cars to cre­at­ing a can-do at­ti­tude among se­nior man­agers that’s es­sen­tial for suc­cess.

Ono, who died at the end of 2007, had a gi­ant ad­van­tage be­cause he was mar­ried to com­pany founder Osama Suzuki’s daugh­ter.

He was able to use his fam­ily con­nec­tion to ram­rod a range of changes that would have been im­pos­si­ble for any­one else, es­pe­cially a fortysome­thing rev­o­lu­tion­ary in a coun­try that usu­ally puts age and ex­pe­ri­ence ahead of youth and en­thu­si­asm.

The award-win­ning Suzuki Swift is an Ono car. So is the cur­rent Grand Vi­tara and the Kiza­shi.

Suzuki Aus­tralia man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Tak Hayasaki says: ‘‘Thanks to Mr Ono we have learnt what we can do. He in­spired us.’’

Hayasaki has his own chal­lenges in try­ing to lift Suzuki’s share of Aus­tralia’s car sales from 2.4 per cent to 6 per cent, but he knows he has the strong­est line-up in the com­pany’s his­tory.

Kiza­shi is the game-changer, the same as the first Mazda6 and Ac­cord Euro were for Mazda and Honda, com­bin­ing Euro-type driv­ing en­joy­ment with Ja­panese qual­ity.

This week Suzuki adds an all-wheel-drive car to the Kiza­shi line, the Sports, and be­lieves it can boost its sales by 100 cars a month. That’s 50 per cent of cur­rent vol­ume.

It’s a big call for a car that al­ready goes head to head with Mazda6 and Euro and now faces the might of the Subaru Lib­erty, the car that con­vinced Aus­tralians about all-wheel drive.

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