SUZUKI SWIFT & SX4
Experiencing the Suzuki 'Way of Life'
Suzuki is renowned the world over as a manufacturer of exciting, exhilarating and dynamic products.
To the South African buying public, this association has been fostered in particular by the thrilling and market-defining motorcycles and ATVs that have made Suzuki among the top-sellers in these respective segments.
In preceding years, the Vitara and Grand Vitara, as well as the lively SJ and later Samurai SUVs, established a loyal following in the automotive sector due to their reputation for go-anywhere performance and value.
With the launch of Suzuki Auto South Africa, the Suzuki brand takes on an entirely new dimension.
While building on the success of the established Suzuki products in the country, the brand will gain momentum through its market penetration, and a brand image that clearly differentiates it from the automotive norm.
"Internationally, Suzuki's aim is to become the number one mobility brand by 2020," explains Charl Timms, Head of Sales and Marketing at Suzuki Auto SA.
"All three divisions – automobile, motorcycle and marine – are working together to leverage the power and the bold new image of the Suzuki brand, while shaping the future direction and success of the company."
This strategy is best symbolised by Suzuki's 'Way of Life' corporate pay-off line. It identifies the manufacturer as innovative and progressive, developing products that are not just durable, well-crafted and reliable, but also intrinsically offering performance, value and fun as key ingredients.
The Suzuki brand philosophy is one that combines rational and emotional attributes in equal measure. The rational elements describe Suzuki as 'Straightforward' and a company that offers 'Value'. The more emotive values emphasise 'Sporty' and 'Spirit' as its defining features.
Together, they define Suzuki's core essence of 'Excitement' – an attribute that permeates throughout the entire organisation, and is evident in each and every one of its products.
The timing of the local launch of Suzuki Auto SA is particularly apt, as it coincides with Suzuki's concerted drive to progress from a niche segment player to a global mainstream contender.
However, Suzuki will continue to clearly differentiate itself through the performance, image, specification and value proposition offered by its expanding product range.
In line with this bold plan, Suzuki Auto SA is hitting the ground running. The initial line-up of models launched to local motorists comprises the funky Swift hatchback and the sporty SX4 crossover vehicle.
But this is just the beginning. The duo's arrival will soon be followed by the highly anticipated launch of the all-new Grand Vitara SUV and the compact Jimny compact 4x4 later in the year.
"And it doesn't end there. We have exciting product plans in place for the next five years. We're targeting around 2 700 retail sales in the first seven months, but as Suzuki's exciting product strategy comes to fruition, we anticipate substantial growth around the world, and specifically in South Africa," Timms added.
"Ultimately, our customers will see Suzuki as a selective brand that offers the highest value proposition in the market. They will associate Suzuki with affordable, aspirational, exciting and reliable motoring, while offering high levels of performance, exceptional quality and excellent resale value."
This approach will be carried through by the dedicated Suzuki Auto dealer network. An initial total of 15 dealers has been appointed following a rigorous evaluation and selection process.
Suzuki Auto dealers will deliver an uncompromising, customer-oriented experience by offering professional sales and after-sales service, allied to extremely competitive product and price positioning.
Add to this the unique appeal of the brand, and the powerful value proposition of its ever-growing range of model, and Suzuki Auto's goal of obtaining significant market share in multiple segments by 2010 seems assured.
The arrival of two passenger car models this month heralds the start of an exciting new chapter for the Suzuki brand in South Africa.
The launch of the new Swift and SX4 hatchbacks not only marks the beginning of Suzuki Motor Corporation's first, concerted participation in the South African passenger car market. It also represents a major commitment by the global automotive brand.
Of course, the Suzuki brand is no stranger to SA consumers. Suzuki motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and outboard marine products have been imported and distributed locally by Suzuki South Africa since 1964. These products have consistently been among the market leaders in performance, quality, reliability and value.
Suzuki's history proves it clearly has the mettle to achieve the objectives it's set itself.
The company started out as the Suzuki Loom Company and was founded by Michio Suzuki in 1909. Located in the Japanese seaside village of Hamamatsu, where SMC's headquarters remain to this day, the fledgling company produced weaving looms for the country's giant silk industry.
Recognising the need to diversify, the company started developing its first small car in 1937. Several compact prototypes were produced during the ensuing two years, powered by a then innovative liquid-cooled, four-stroke four-cylinder engine.
World War II halted development in this field, but there was a great need for affordable and reliable transportation after the war. Suzuki responded by launching its motorised bicycle, called 'Power Free' in 1952.
The drive system was so ingenious and well received that the Japanese government granted Suzuki a financial subsidy to continue research into motorcycle engineering. And so the Suzuki Motor Corporation was born.
By 1954, Suzuki was producing 6 000 motorcycles per month, while its first car, the lightweight 'Suzulight', made its debut in 1955. The rest is a remarkable and fascinating history.
During the ensuing 53 years, Suzuki Motor Corporation has blossomed into a major automotive manufacturer that is active on a global scale.
In 2007, SMC's worldwide automobile sales amounted to 2 405 487 units, while motorcycles and ATVs sales reached 3 343 624 units. At the same time, Suzuki's overall international production tally continued to climb for the ninth consecutive year, reaching over 2,6-million cars and commercials, and in excess of 3,3-million motorcycles and ATVs.
Against this encouraging backdrop, SMC's 2008 projections currently provide for a further sales increase of 7 percent compared to 2007 levels, equating to an expected 2 550 000 car and commercial vehicle sales for the year. The company's ongoing positive results have led to sustained year-on-year expansion anticipated at 8,5 percent. The company aims to achieve a target volume of 3-million units in 2010.
"While our overall sales volumes in SA won't be that significant in global terms, at least initially, it will make a valuable contribution to SMC's 2010 vision," said Yamashita.
"We certainly have every intention of making a significant impact on the SA passenger vehicle market in the years to come," he concluded.
SUZUKI SWIFT 1.5
The compact car segment has never been more competitive. But with the debut of the exciting new Suzuki Swift, this class is about to be turned on its head.
From the outset, the Suzuki Swift was designed with an entirely new approach that was focused on delivering a thoroughly distinctive styling package.
The result is a contemporary hatchback that exudes sophistication and youthful, sporty appeal, matched to a level of quality and refinement for this class.
The Swift's space, comfort and packaging are linked to performance traits that allow this model to pitch above the class standard. In doing so, it promises more than its fair share of driver appeal and exhilaration.
Living up to its name, the Swift looks the athletic part, emphasised by the pronounced shoulders and a wrap-around windscreen with blacked out A and B-pillars.
This is a bold and energetic new player that stands out from the norm, and will certainly not be mistaken for any of its mainstream rivals.
And the theme continues inside, with the focus on peerless driver involvement. The cabin is appealing and characterised by the curved dashboard and sporty instrumentation.
Suzuki's designers focused on maximising interior space while minimising the overall size of the Swift, and the result is superb comfort, functionality and adjustability.
There's no compromise when it comes to safety either, as the Swift boasts an impressive level of standard features and a proven track record. A four-star Euro-NCAP rating places it up there with the best.
Driver and passenger front airbags are standard, with additional side and curtain airbags on the high-spec GLS models, along with ABS brakes with the latest electronic brake force distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist systems.
This is further enhanced by the fitment of ISOFIX child seat anchorage points, three-point pre-tensioning seat-belts all-round along with additional head-impact protection measures, and the use of high-strength side-impact door beams. Security is assured by the presence of remote central locking, linked to an integrated alarm system and immobiliser.
The Swift's sporting appeal isn't simply limited to the aesthetics of this assertive model. The inherent 'fun-to-drive' ethos was carried through every aspect of the design and development programme, even including the lessons learned in terms of suspension layout and setup based on the Swift's successes in the Junior World Rally Championship (JWRC).
A design that places the large-diameter wheels near the furthest extremes of each corner leads to a deliberately purposeful and poised stance, but also gives the Swift the widest rear track in its class.
This translates into dynamic handling traits out of the very top drawer, matched to stability and a level of ride control and refinement typical of a much larger and more expensive car.
As with the rest of this intriguing package, the Swift guarantees a knock-out punch with its responsive 1,5-litre multi-point fuel-injected engine, which features variable valve timing (VVT) to optimise the unit's power and torque delivery, particularly at the low to midrange engine speeds typical of in-city driving.
Where the majority of its competitors feature 1,3 or 1,4-litre engines, the Swift's larger 1490cc unit ensures that its performance characteristics are just as noteworthy as its styling, with above-average outputs of 74kW at 6000rpm and 133Nm of torque at 4000rpm. This propels the light and lively five-speed manual Suzuki from 0-100kph in 10,0 sec, and on to a top speed of 175kph.
Despite its obvious sporting emphasis, the Swift remains extremely fuel efficient, with an impressive combined fuel consumption figure of just 6,1 l/100 km in the combined cycle, which underscores its efficiency and allows a useful range on the 43 litre fuel tank.
As the final string in the Swift's highly compelling bow, it offers exceptional value for money, with a remarkable level of standard luxury and convenience features matched to a convincing price tag, starting at just R116 900 for the 1.5 GL, and extending to R131 900 for the high-specification 1.5 GLS, or R144 900 for the four-speed automatic version.
Customer service continues beyond the purchase of the car, as each model comes with the 'Suzuki Complete' package of after-sales services at no additional cost.
This includes a comprehensive warranty against manufacturing or material defects for a period of three years or 100 000 km, as well as corrosion cover for six years.
Additionally, the Swift is sold with a four-year/60 000km service plan that takes care of the parts and labour costs associated with routine servicing. It includes engine, transmission and differential oils, filters, spark plus, all fluid replacements and accessory belts.
Suzuki Complete also provides three-year roadside assistance, which includes breakdown, accident and emergency rescue cover. Finally, this innovative programme also sees the fitment of an Altech Netstar Sleuth tracking and recovery unit in each new car, which can be activated at the time of purchase and is subject to a monthly subscription fee.
It's fun to drive, enthralling to look at and extremely rewarding to own – welcome to the exciting world of the exceptional Suzuki Swift!
SUZUKI SX4 2.0
There is nothing ordinary about the all-new, innovative Suzuki SX4. It certainly isn't just another C-segment contender.
Bold and individual, this newcomer to the highly competitive sector is a thrillingly unconventional offering with an overriding focus on lifestyle that is totally unique in its class.
As the flagship model spearheading the June 2008 launch of Suzuki Auto South Africa (SASA), the SX4 introduces a fresh, crossover design into this market sector for the first time. That alone will attract vehicle buyers with a predilection for active and sporty motoring.
In the SX4 designation, the 'S' is short for Sporty, while the 'X' refers to the Suzuki's crossover design. And then there's the '4', which doesn't allude to four-wheel drive in the SA market – although the SX4 is sold in all-wheel drive form in some countries.
The exterior styling and design details of the attention-grabbing SX4 intentionally express an outdoors-biased flair strongly reminiscent of the sports utility vehicle (SUV) segment.
In this instance these elements are deliberately fused with the poise and the nimble appeal of a passenger car. Together, they create a truly individual model line that occupies an entirely new motoring niche, rather than simply following the expected mainstream.
Therefore, the new Suzuki SX4 emerges as a thoroughly versatile vehicle offering practical benefits such as greater ride height and slightly raised seating position, while exploiting the agility and driving appeal of a traditional hatchback.
With its head-turning appearance, matched to an extremely versatile, spacious and comprehensively equipped interior, the SX4's appeal is truly universal. And yet, it is also particularly well suited to the SA lifestyle.
The SX4 is offered in a single, high-specification derivative, but offers buyers the choice of a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission.
In line with its sporting aspirations, the SX4 is powered by a gutsy 2,0-litre, four-cylinder engine with electronically controlled, multipoint fuel-injection.
Linking highly competitive power characteristics to class-leading torque, this enthusiastic mill has a rated maximum power output of 107kW at 5800rpm, while the peak torque is pegged at 184Nm, reached at just 3500rpm. The engine's emphasis is on achieving a flat torque curve in the low-to-mid rev range, thereby enhancing tractability, and improving performance characteristics in everyday driving conditions.
However, the manual SX4 is capable of sprinting from 0-100kph in 9,4 sec, with top speed pegged at 184kph. But you won't have to rush off to the filling station: Suzuki's combined-cycle performance figure comes to 8,4 litres/100km in manual form, while the auto is only slightly thirstier at 9,5 litres/100km.
Despite the Suzuki SX4's trend-setting crossover appeal, it remains particularly rewarding to drive. Among the reasons are its very high levels of torsional and bending rigidity.
This allows for exceptional handling, tautness and controlled agility, ensuring that the SX4 will satisfy outdoor fanatics as much as it will enthral driving enthusiasts.
The SX4's dynamic demeanour is further complemented by a responsive all-disc braking system featuring the latest ABS anti-lock system with electronic brake force distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist.
The SX4 arrives in South Africa as an ambassador of Suzuki's trademark approach towards providing industry-defining quality and an unrivalled value proposition.
These traits are clearly evident in the superior build quality, fit and finish and refinement of this benchmark model, as well as an aggressive pricing strategy – despite the outstanding level of standard equipment and value-added features provided.
Indeed, Suzuki's launch ambassador comes fully equipped with a remarkable level of comfort, luxury and convenience features as standard – an aspect totally at odds with the exceptionally competitive pricing of just R163 900 (or R176 900 for the Auto version).
The SX4 driver is genuinely left wanting for nothing. The hatchback comes packed to the hilt with everything the motorist's hearty may desire. Standard fare includes power steering, electric windows and mirrors, an integrated MP3-compatible CD tuner with satellite controls on the steering wheel, cruise control, fully automatic climate control and even a keyless entry and keyless start facility.
The safety package is similarly comprehensive, starting off with a complement of six airbags, consisting front, side and curtain bags.
Under the all-inclusive Suzuki Complete programme, the SX4 is sold with top-notch after-sales back-up. First up is the six-year/90 000km service plan, together with a three-year/100 000km factory warranty.
In addition, Suzuki Complete includes roadside assistance for the duration of the warranty, and the fitment of an Altech Netstar Sleuth tracking device as standard. This unit can be activated at the time of purchase, and is subject to a monthly subscription fee.
a Swift and a Hayabusa - birds of a feather... photos by Kenn