Suzuki Australia understands that the company’s global position won’t allow it to fill every vehicle class in Australia, but the brand is aiming high - its goal is to become the number one small segment passenger and small-SUV brand locally.
TMR spoke with Suzuki Australia CEO Andrew Moore at the Melbourne launch of the new Baleno hatch, where he outlined the local operation’s short- to mid-term ambitions.
Keen pricing for the Baleno (full details here) as well as sizing that puts the car closer to the dimensions of what small cars used to be, are seen as key to winning buyers over from brands like Hyundai and Toyota.
Mr Moore also pointed out that while those brands have a strong showing with fleet buyers, Suzuki’s plans are targeted towards private buyers.
On the top of Mr Moore’s wish list however is the return of new SUV entrant to slot in beneath the compact SUV, the Ignis, currently offered in Japan.
“Every time I come back from Japan I talk about how much I like it, it’s at the top of my wishlist and I think it could do really well here.” Mr Moore said.
Negotiations surrounding the Ignis for Australia are underway, and, with no sign of Australia’s appetite for SUVs slowing, it stands a very real chance of getting a local berth.
“We’re having ongoing discussions with Suzuki Japan about getting it here, but as you’ve seen exchange rates are up and down. I don’t want to take it at the wrong time, we need to be careful about that.”
Looking further afield, Mr Moore was also keen about the possibility of adding a Baleno Sport to the local line-up
“I’ve put in a request to see if we can get something more like that,” Mr Moore said, pointing to a Baleno fitted with black alloy wheels and a body kit from the genuine accessory range.
“It’s something I’d like to see from the factory.”
When quizzed about the possibility of a power boost, courtesy of the Vitara Turbo’s larger four-cylinder turbo engine, Mr Moore was less confident.
“The 1.4 Turbo isn’t fitted anywhere in the world, and I don’t know if technically it will fit, but if you look under the bonnet… a lot of Suzuki’s models share their engines”
An Australia-only request for a more powerful Baleno may not be enough to convince Suzuki’s head office to add a new low-volume variant to the production schedule.
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