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Suzuki’s hand up for mid-sized SUV

Vitara vitality: The Grand Vitara is still selling consistently after 12 years on sale but Suzuki is after a new mid-sized SUV for customers who spend most of their time on-road.

Grand Vitara still going strong but Suzuki wants fresh new mid-sizer for Australia

Suzuki logo18 Jan 2017

SUZUKI Australia is putting the screws on its Japanese factory for a new mid-sized SUV to sit above the Vitara small crossover, offering local customers a more comprehensive range of models and a new contender in the burgeoning segment.

While the company already has a contender in the medium SUV arena, the Grand Vitara is feeling its age after more than a decade on sale and, despite consistent sales to four-wheel driving enthusiasts, the Japanese car-maker is eyeing a new model that will fit a different customer profile.

Speaking at the Australian introduction of the Ignis baby crossover, Suzuki Australia general manager Andrew Moore told GoAuto that he was keeping up the pressure for more local models that would cater to Australian tastes as well as other markets.

“I’m asking the factory to develop a medium SUV based on the Vitara – a new one that more rewards city driving not off-road because that’s what most customers want, but I still think Suzuki can be true to its heritage,” he said.

“I’m asking because I really want it and because I believe there is potential in other markets.”

While the Japanese headquarters of Suzuki is yet to confirm which models it has in development, Mr Moore explained that the rising popularity of the range in Australia was building the influence the local outfit has on new model development.

“Our influence is getting greater because there’s other markets like Europe that can handle cars that are different to developing-nation cars and different to traditional Japanese cars. Even in Japan there’s a shift away from tiny box cars,” he said.

“Suzuki is looking at doing things for markets other than just development markets and Australia is one of those. When we say these are the sort of products we are after, they’re listening.”

Until a new mid-size Suzuki SUV can be offered for sale Down Under, the company will continue to offer the 12-year old Grand Vitara that still finds more than 100 owners each month, despite its age.

Mr Moore said had been surprised by the number of customers remaining loyal to its most venerable model following the introduction of the new Vitara in 2015.

“It’s probably going better than we expected,” he said. “I thought Vitara would cannibalise Grand Vitara more than it has.

“Where Grand Vitara is holding up is, it’s one car where you are actually selling four-wheel drives. The four-wheel drive is selling much stronger than the two-wheel drive.”

So-called grey nomads and off-road adventurers will welcome the company’s decision to introduce an updated Euro 5 compliant 2.4-litre petrol engine and to continue selling the model for the foreseeable future.

“We’ll be selling it definitely for the rest of this year. We are safe for 2017 and probably well into 2018”.

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