Suzuki’s diesel revolution
The microcar maker looks to VW, writes Craig Duff
DIESEL engines are the top priority at Suzuki as it celebrates its global partnership with Volkswagen.
The German giant paid $2.5 billion for a 20 per cent stake in the Japanese maker a little more than a year ago and now Suzuki wants to tap its technology in areas where it is lacking.
Diesel engines are the first target, with all sorts of engine and driveline technology also on the shopping list, says Tony Devers, of Suzuki Australia.
‘‘A diesel is the priority. (And) we need drivetrains,’’ Devers says.
Volkswagen bought into Suzuki to access its giant business in microcars in Japan and India.
It is the world leader in the class and builds more than two million microcars a year, including some that are rebadged and sold by Nissan.
Devers knows Suzuki needs more power — literally and figuratively — to continue its recent success in Australia and is pushing head office hard.
‘‘I’m going to Japan in a couple of weeks and will know more then,’’ he says.
Devers hopes to have news on a power upgrade and diesel for the mid- sized Kizashi, as well as more punch for the latest Swift.
Suzuki’s communications manager, Andrew Ellis, is more open when he says: ‘‘A diesel-powered Kizashi will open up a whole new market for us.
‘‘ Throw in DSG ( VW’s semiautomatic transmission) and there’s another dimension to the line-up again.’’
Ellis says the improved fit and finish seen in the new Swift, which arrives in Australia this week, will be reflected in all of Suzuki’s models as a result of a company-wide focus on perfecting the design to minimise production-line changes and keep the retail pricing competitive.
Devers also confirms a sportier version of the Swift will arrive next year, with a 1.6-litre engine that should be perfectly matched to the car’s impressive chassis and suspension.
Suzuki will chase niche sales — as well as establishing a halo model for the brand — with the introduction of a turbocharged all-wheel-drive Kizashi.
It is still working on details after building a one-off prototype, using aftermarket parts from the US, for the Australian International Motor Show last year.
American buyers already have the high-performance model and a version will be tested in Australia over the coming weeks before Suzuki commits to selling it here.
It hopes motoring journalists will be positive and boost the car’s local showroom potential.
‘‘It’s in your hands. If the reviews are good, we’ll look at it,’’ Ellis says.
Inspiration: Suzuki wants to use VW’s diesel and driveline expertise to improve its fleet.