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Suzuki's Ignis nears

On the way: Suzuki's Baleno hatch (left) is set for a quarter three, 2016 launch, while the Ignis (below) is still yet to be officially confirmed for Australia.

Ignis on the horizon as Suzuki gears up for big 2016 with Vitara Turbo, Baleno

7 Mar 2016

SUZUKI Australia is “confident” it will lock in the tiny Ignis crossover for sale Down Under as it prepares to launch the Toyota Corolla-fighting Baleno hatch and turbocharged Vitara later this year.

Revealed in production guise at last year's Tokyo motor show, the Ignis – a name Suzuki resurrected from the early 2000s – the quirky crossover is all but confirmed for the Australian market, but Suzuki Australia general manager Andrew Moore told GoAuto the car-maker was still assessing it.

“No it's not confirmed as yet,” he said. “There are lots of factors you have got to look at like exchange rates and so forth. I am very positive about the car, I think it is a great looking vehicle. I have had a look at the vehicle, it has heaps of space inside and a very funky interior.

“I think it has got plenty of potential but, again in that segment, you have got to get the right price. I am confident it will stack up, we are working with the factory to get confirmation from them.”

The Ignis would become the entry point to Suzuki's SUV line-up, but Mr Moore said it would be a different offering to its rugged, go-anywhere Jimny small SUV.

“It's (Ignis) smaller than Vitara. It will start the new wave of light SUVs. It is not really comparable to a Jimny.

“Ignis is more about that SUV style, creating a great city vehicle, whereas Jimny is a real deal 4x4.”

If the Ignis gets the official green light to launch in Australia this year, it will likely follow the Vitara Turbo and the Baleno small hatch that are both confirmed for a quarter three arrival.

The Baleno will sit above the popular Swift in Suzuki's passenger car line-up and according to Mr Moore, will appeal to buyers who do not need as much space as other small-car offerings.

“It's going to be a ripper,” he said. “(There is) heaps of interior space. I reckon it is definitely a genuine small-segment contender. I think Corolla buyers, you hear a lot of them say now it is so big, it is like an old Camry.

Baleno comes in where previous Corollas used to sit before they got so big.”

At 3995mm long, 1745mm wide, 1470mm high and with a 2520mm wheelbase, the Baleno is larger in all dimensions, except height, than its Swift stablemate, while the Corolla hatch is 280mm longer, 15mm wider and with an 80mm-longer wheelbase, but the Suzuki adds 10mm of height over the Corolla.

Mr Moore also hinted at competitive pricing for the small car segment, saying “Suzuki always gives good value with our vehicles so I am looking at it being a good-value alternative to a Corolla.” Further down the Suzuki line-up, Mr Moore said the car-maker was satisfied with sales of its Celerio micro car and predicted that it would maintain its current volumes even in the face of new competition from Holden's imminent Spark.

“We are happy with Celerio. It is just challenging, the micro segment just continues to decline. We are getting pretty good share in a small space,” he said.

“We think we will maintain volume pretty similar to what we are doing now. I think if the Spark is very strong it will probably pull customers from the light segment.

Mr Moore said the all-new Holden is more likely to attract buyers stepping down from light cars in order to save some money, but said the rival car-maker faces tough market conditions.

“In that micro segment customers are very price-sensitive so you can have a better car, put an extra $1000 and it probably won't sell. It comes down to what they release in that regard.”

Suzuki's other passenger car offering, the mid-size Kizashi, is still being sold in Australia, but given the down-turn in the segment, Mr Moore said the company has not ordered any more from the factory.

“We haven't ordered any the last couple of months, we have got enough to keep that slow run rate ticking for a little bit. We haven’t made any firm decisions on it at this stage, but as an importer, you look at your run rate, do we need to bring in more stock? At this point we don't, based on what's selling.”

Towards the end of 2013, Suzuki global announced the Kizashi would be slowly discontinued and not replaced, given low take-up of the model worldwide.

The company has since shifted focus and announced recently that it would concentrate on developing and manufacturing small SUVs and small passenger cars, rather than trying its luck in untested segments.

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