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Suzuki  Mighty midget: Suzuki's MR Wagon drew an enthusiastic response at the Tokyo and Frankfurt motor shows.

Mighty midget: Suzuki's MR Wagon drew an enthusiastic response at the Tokyo and Frankfurt motor shows.

Suzuki's boxy Wagon R will make way for the sleeker, more stylish MR Wagon in 2001

SUZUKI has given the production go-ahead to the MR Wagon following positive public reaction to the concept car at the Tokyo motor show.

The mid-engined commuter will be available only with a 660cc, three-cylinder powerplant in Japan but a more powerful version will be offered here.

"The MR Wagon with a 1.2-litre engine would be a very obvious choice for Australia," Ateco Automotive spokesman Mr Edward Rowe said.

But the car would not be available here until late 2001 at the earliest as it will take at least 18 months for production to commence.

The MR Wagon features a one-box design with minimal front and rear overhangs to maximise interior space. The packaging is made all the more efficient by locating the engine under the floor - just ahead of the rear axle.

The layout is unique to the MR Wagon as no other minicar features a mid-mounted engine - or rear-wheel drive, for that matter.

Versatility should be one of the car's fortes with the rear seats able to be reclined separately or folded flat into the floor.

Although similar in overall dimensions to the Wagon R - formerly sold here - the MR Wagon looks distinctly more modern and stylish thanks to a sleek nose and a wedge-like profile.

Although a big success in its home market, the Wagon R was a sales flop in Australia. Local buyers were not receptive to its 1.0-litre engine and tall-boy stance - but newcomers such as the Daihatsu Sirion and Daewoo Matiz have shown there is a market for such vehicles.

Meanwhile, Mr Rowe has confirmed there are plans to eventually distribute Suzuki vehicles in Australia under one umbrella - as opposed to the current situation whereby there are three distributors for the brand.

Mr Rowe would not commit to a time frame for the new arrangement, saying it was a question of "when" rather than "if". A single distribution network would result in uniform - and possibly cheaper - Suzuki prices across Australia.






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