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Vitara beat RAV4, says Suzuki

Pioneer: Suzuki says its Vitara set the compact SUV trend, years before the Toyota RAV4.

Suzuki disputes Toyota claim that RAV4 was world’s first compact SUV

Suzuki logo12 Oct 2009


SUZUKI has taken Toyota to task over its latest advertising campaign for the RAV4, which claims the once top-selling compact crossover is “the original SUV”.

The company has pointed out that Toyota unveiled its first compact SUV concept the year after Suzuki’s original Vitara went on sale more than 20 years ago, but the RAV4 was not released for a further five years.

“It’s one thing to make a lot of noise about being the original compact SUV - it’s another to actually prove it,” said Suzuki Australia general manager Tony Devers in a press release issued on October 12.

“Suzuki was, without doubt, the company that started the compact SUV segment in 1988 with the original Vitara.

“Toyota showed a concept version of a compact SUV at the 1989 Tokyo motor show, but the first RAV4 did not go on sale until 1994.

“I’m not sure how anyone could claim to be the original when presented with cold hard facts like that,” said Mr Devers.

While the Vitara evolved into the Grand Vitara, which is Suzuki’s direct competitor for the RAV4, Mr Devers said Suzuki’s small SUV expertise was first demonstrated almost 40 years ago.

“Development of the Suzuki 4x4 compact car program began in 1968 and resulted in the launch of the first-generation Jimny in 1970,” he said. “Its compact body featured design elements never before seen in a 4x4 vehicle of that size, including a ladder frame, rigid axle suspension and dual-range transfer case.

“For nearly 40 years Suzuki has been the trend-setter in engineering compact SUVs and, unlike our competitors, we have maintained our commitment to providing an SUV with full-time 4WD and a low-range transfer case.”

Toyota manager public relations Mike Breen told GoAuto: "Toyota has conveyed its thoughts on the matter and don't have anymore to add."

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