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Future models - Suzuki - Grand Vitara

Suzuki to launch six new models in six years!

Swift soft-top: Concept S2 may morph into a production Swift cabrio, but it's not likely to happen until the next-generation Swift appears.

Suzuki Australia to embark on an exciting new era following its Swift success

25 Aug 2005

A REJUVENATED Suzuki is continuing its new-model roll-out with at least one all-new vehicle slated for release annually over the next six years.

The company has already released the successful Swift in Australia, along with the APV mini-van, while the promising new Grand Vitara will be launched next week.

Following is what Suzuki Australia can look forward to in the coming six years.

For Asia, India and Europe there will also be sub-1.0-litre Kei models such as the eventual replacement for Suzuki’s segment-dominating Wagon R+ and all-new Alto 1.0-litre sub-B supermini.

Meanwhile, new sized-up Suzukis for the United States will include vehicles co-developed with General Motors, such as a medium-sized 4WD shared with Chevrolet.

There will also be updates of the GM Daewoo-derived Canadian Swift (Daewoo Kalos/Holden Barina) as well as the Forenza/Reno and Verona – also known as the Lacetti/Holden Viva and Leganza/Magnus.

2006 Grand Vitara III

Following the success of the new-generation Swift, the Japanese company is embarking on the release of the third-generation Grand Vitara next month.

Larger, roomier, safer, more comfortable and claimed to be significantly better on-road, Grand Vitara III will still have the respected off-road capability of its predecessors.

On-road performance will be enhanced via new suspension – including a multi-link arrangement at the rear – greater strength and rigidity, a wider track and improved engines.

For performance off the beaten track, Suzuki has fused a monocoque body to a ladder-frame chassis and will continue to offer low-ratio gearing and a lockable centre diff with what remains essentially a rear-drive-biased vehicle.

Engine choices for the Australian market will be limited to a 107kW 2.0-litre four-cylinder unit and a revised version of the 2.7-litre V6 kicking out 135kW.

If fuel prices continue to climb, Suzuki Australia may also look at including Europe’s 1.9-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine.

A two-door version will join the neatly styled four-door wagon, powered by a new 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine.

Like today’s model, this shorter variant will also be available with the soft-top or hard-top options of the previous Grand Vitara.

Suzuki board member and overseas marketing chief, Hirotaka Ono, said he instructed his designers to look at the original Vitara wagon (1988-1997) for styling and proportion inspiration.

The current Grand Vitara (1997) was a collaborative effort devised at the General Motors/Suzuki centre in Canada, with GM’s needs mostly in mind.

2006 Swift Sport

This high-performance 1600cc four-cylinder hot-hatch not only evokes memories of the lamented 1989-2000 Swift GTi, it is meant to offer a performance-per-dollar ratio that blows costlier European rivals like the Peugeot 206 GTi out of the water.

30 center imageSuzuki has revealed the Sport will feature a new camshaft for high-rpm performance as well as low-rev torque accessibility. A variable valve timing head is expected.

Compared to the model due for release in Japan in early September, firmer suspension tuning will also be part of the package for Australian and European-specification Swift Sport models, showing that Suzuki is serious about rekindling the flame of its GTi predecessor.

Interestingly, Mr Ono cited the Peugeot 206 as an inspiration for the Swift’s overall packaging. Suzuki Australia is also investigating three-door versions of the Swift for introduction here next year, although general manager David LeMottee said pricing continued to be an issue.

This variant is only built in Hungary, and so attracts a higher price than the Japanese-sourced Swifts currently sold in Australia.

2007 Swift Cabriolet

Small cabriolets are gaining popularity across the world, particularly in Europe, however, the model Suzuki has on its drawing board may not make it into production.

In 2003, the company unveiled a four-seat convertible version of today’s Swift, a design study it called Concept-S2.

But it appears that the cabriolet’s biggest potential market – the US – is ruled out for any derivation of the current Swift generation.

This is because Suzuki never intended to field it there and did not employ the expensive and extensive rear-impact engineering needed to comply with US regulations.

Thus, Mr Ono was pessimistic about a current Swift drop-top making it into production. He did, however, hint that the company has developed and patented a unique roof system that will definitely debut when the next-generation Swift emerges sometime from 2010.

2007 SX4

The Liana-usurping SX4 is Suzuki’s vital entry into the hot small-car segment.

Developed with Fiat and aimed mainly at Europe, the SX4 boasts a series of unique features to separate it from its VW Golf and Ford Focus foes.

Chief among these will be its attractive compact-4WD four-door "wagon" styling – the work of Giugiaro in Italy – that is the basis for Suzuki referring to the SX4 as its "new crossover".

A front-wheel drive-based 4WD system is another, using a 60:40 front:rear drive bias instead of many rivals’ 80:20 ratio. Engine choices will include 1.8, 2.0 and 2.3-litre four-cylinder petrol units (Australia is in line for the latter two), while a 1.9-litre JTD turbo-diesel delivered by Fiat might also land here.

2008 Crossover sedan

A four-door sedan version of the SX4 is also coming.

It should feature bespoke body styling in the more conservative three-box vein, as well as the all-wheel drive running gear of its donor sibling.

This car has been devised to have greater appeal to US and Asian markets, regions where hatchbacks such as the SX4 are not as popular as regular sedans.

2009 Mid-sized 4WD

The medium-sized 4WD now in development will be the largest vehicle Suzuki has ever created in-house.

Mr Ono described the vehicle as roughly the size of the new BMW 3 Series, although its shape will be more akin to the X3 or a shrunken Nissan Murano.

Expect a sporty, stylistic flavour combined with a spacious five-seater cabin and genuine driver appeal.

It will use a variation of the Grand Vitara III’s rear-drive-biased 4WD system for genuine off-road ability.

New V6s of 2.8-litre capacity and up – belonging to the same engine family as the HFV6s produced by Holden – are on the cards, as are diesels derived from within the GM family.

Like the smaller SX4, a sedan around the same size as Audi’s A4 will also be derived from the 4WD wagon. It should share identical mechanical underpinnings but feature an entirely new skin.

2009 Jimny IV

Around the same time, Suzuki will also introduce a new-generation Jimny.

The fourth-generation Jimny mini-4WD will retain the current vehicle’s off-road abilities and hose-down toughness, but in a slightly larger, more comfortable and far safer package.

Little is known beyond the fact that, as a result, the next Jimny will probably include a separate ladder chassis.

Previous Jimny iterations have been the 1974 LJ, 1981 SJ Sierra and the current model launched here in mid-1998.

2010 Swift IV

The latest Swift is a compact light car with European styling and sporty dynamics in the modern Japanese idiom.

But its successor will also be developed with a keen eye on the key US market as well.

This means it will have to be slightly larger (to pass rear-end collision requirements), and be able to accommodate larger engines of 1.8 and even 2.0-litre capacity.

Suzuki has been spurred on by the unexpected success of BMW’s Mini, a car that eschews the established North American essentials such as size, large engine displacement and 4WD-like bulk.

And central to the next Swift’s Stateside campaign is the definite development of a droptop.

Mr Ono would not confirm whether the current model would get the chop-top treatment, despite the existence of the 2003 Concept-S2 design exercise.

However, he did disclose that a new and patented folding roof system is on the drawing board for the next-generation model – effectively securing the Swift cabriolet’s place on the production line.

What's coming from Suzuki:

Grand Vitara III 4WD - September 2005
Swift GTI hot hatch - September 2006
SX4 4WD wagon - February 2007
Swift Cabriolet - Late 2007
SX4-based sedan - First quarter 2008
Mid-sized 4WD - Last quarter 2008
Jimny mini-4WD - Early 2009
Mid-sized AWD sedan - Late 2009
Swift IV - 2010
Swift IV cabriolet - 2011

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