New kids on the block

NT News - Motoring - - CARS GUIDE - By PAUL GOVER

SUZUKI is fi­nally get­ting into gear with some much­needed im­prove­ments to the com­pany’s prod­uct line-up for Aus­tralia.

Af­ter more than two years with noth­ing be­yond Sport mod­els for the Swift and Kiza­shi, it’s ready­ing three all-new ad­di­tions to the show­room line-up from the mid­dle of next year un­til the start of 2015.

The head­liner is the iV-4 SUV con­cept just un­veiled at the Frank­furt mo­tor show but it will be book-ended by the com­pact S-Cross that takes over from the $18,990 SX4 and a re­newal of the tiny $11,790 Alto.

The iV-4 takes a to­tally new di­rec­tion, as it was de­vel­oped for Europe and will be built in a fac­tory in Hun­gary. It’s also a new look for a com­pany that is no­to­ri­ously con­ser­va­tive on the styling front.

It can be seen as a rein­ven­tion of the Vi­tara in the Suzuki line, as its size— 4.2m long and 1.65m tall — drops it into the open space be­tween the cur­rent Jimny and Grand Vi­tara.

But don’t ex­pect the iV-4 badges — to re­flect in­di­vid­u­al­ity, ve­hi­cle and four­wheel drive at Frank­furt — to make it to the road.

‘‘We’re ex­pect­ing a dif­fer­ent name for the pro­duc­tion car,’’ the spokesman for Suzuki Aus­tralia, An­drew El­lis, tells Carsguide.

‘‘The tim­ing will be 2015 for Aus­tralia.

‘‘At a stretch, it could just make it into the back end of next year.’’

He con­firms the po­si­tion of the iV-4 and the re-work­ing of the other Suzuki mod­els.

‘‘This is an ad­di­tion to the range, not a re­place­ment for any­thing we al­ready have. The SX4 is get­ting re­placed by S-Cross next year and we also have a re­place­ment for the Alto,’’ El­lis says.

He says Suzuki Aus­tralia is still wait­ing for a full prod­uct plan from Ja­pan, as there is not even a con­fir­ma­tion of en­gines— be­yond a claim for class-lead­ing CO emis­sions.

‘‘All they have said at the mo­ment is that it will be pro­duced for Europe in Hun­gary. We will be tak­ing S-Cross from the fac­tory at May­gar Suzuki, but we don’t know yet about the pro­duc­tion model of the iV4,’’ El­lis says.

The change to the SX4 is a big one, as the S-Cross prom­ises to be much more youth­ful. For peo­ple who can­not de­cide, there will be a choice for much of 2014.

‘‘The two mod­els will run in par­al­lel for a while next year, as we’re ex­pect­ing the S-Cross at the start of 2014 and the SX-4 will con­tinue in pro­duc­tion for a few months,’’ El­lis says. ‘‘The S-Cross is aimed squarely at the Nis­san Dualis. It’s on a new plat­form.’’

Look­ing to the iV-4, El­lis says Suzuki is ex­pect­ing a gen­uine four-wheel drive that can trace its roots back to its orig­i­nal LJ off-roader in the 1970s, on through the SJ in the eight­ies, then the Vi­tara, Jimny and Grand Vi­tara.

The com­pany is also plan­ning an ex­ten­sive per­son­al­i­sa­tion pro­gram for buy­ers, un­der the catch­phrase ‘‘Grab your Field’’, ex­tend­ing be­yond wheels and tyres to ex­te­rior parts, colours and even tex­tures of some body pan­els.

The iV-4 SUV con­cept un­veiled at the Frank­furt mo­tor show will head­line three new ve­hi­cles for Suzuki

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