Suzuki’s diesel revo­lu­tion

The mi­cro­car maker looks to VW, writes Craig Duff

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Onroad -

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.

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