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Suzuki Vitara name to return?

All in a name: Suzuki already markets the Jimny as the ‘Jimny Sierra’, and a model update due this year could see half of this name dropped.

Vitara and Sierra badges could feature in Suzuki showrooms from 2015

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Suzuki logo2 May 2014

SUZUKI Australia general manager Tony Devers says the company would be interested in re-introducing its well-recognised Vitara and Sierra nameplates to showrooms by early 2015.

Speaking with GoAuto today, Mr Devers said its recently-revealed iV-4 concept small off-roader would manifest as a production model in Australia by early next year, and welcomed speculation that this version could rekindle the dormant Vitara badge.

The iV-4 is pitched as a rugged twin to the slightly-smaller S-Cross, and fits size-wise between the Jimny and Grand Vitara. This makes it a spiritual successor to the popular Vitara that retailed until 2000.

It also makes the iV-4/Vitara Suzuki’s best candidate to bring incremental growth to its brand in the short-term, until a new western-market small-sized passenger car – likely not the Alivio revealed in China last week – arrives here in 2016.

“I’ve read quite a few articles saying it will be called Vitara, but we’ve not had it confirmed at this stage,” Mr Devers said.

“For sure it would help to launch the new product, it positions the car, it’s a well-recognised brand in Australia and (that would) position it nicely.”

Suzuki is yet to reveal technical or powertrain information on the iV-4, other than it will be light-weight, be among the lowest CO2 emitters in its class and feature Suzuki's next-generation Allgrip four-wheel-drive system.

Before the iV-4 arrives early next year, however, Suzuki will launch a mild update of Jimny that adds the now-mandatory ESC stability control system. Under federal law, non-commercial vehicles are unable to sell without the life-saving technology.

Suzuki already markets the Jimny as the Jimny Sierra in Australia, capitalising on the brand-recognition of the famed little sand dune-warrior of the 1990s.

When asked if the updated model could lose the Jimny badge in favour of singular Sierra branding and just ‘be done with it’, Mr Devers said: “I’d like to, (but) we need to talk with Japan to do that.”

While Suzuki has battled crippling supply constraints this year due in large part to switching Swift sourcing to Japan from Thailand, 2015 is shaping up to be a positive year for the company.

Alongside the iV-4/Vitara, Suzuki will also launch the Thai-made Celerio in the first quarter, which will serve as a replacement for the Indian-made Alto, best known for being Australia’s cheapest new car in lieu of the discontinued Chinese Chery J1.

The Celerio will give the company the ammunition to steal some sales from the segment-dominating Mitsubishi Mirage.

Beyond these new models, as well as the mooted small-car for 2016, Mr Devers said the company needed a larger, seven-seat SUV model, a la the XL-7 of the early 2000s, as well as an additional commercial van alongside its micro-sized APV.

Suzuki Australia will introduce at least one new model in each of the next five years, according to Mr Devers.

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