Maruti ready to launch the Suzuki Kizashi. Will it sell?

Pricing is the key to the success of the Kizashi

A Maruti for Rs 18 lakh? That’s something to think about, because once you climb up the price ladder, image begins to play a big role in buying decisions.

Would you buy a luxury car from the manufacturer of India’s largest-selling small cars? Or would you rather go for some snob value from Honda, Volkswagen, Chevrolet, Skoda or Toyota in that price range?

The likey hefty price tag for the Kizashi is because Maruti plans to import the car directly from Suzuki as a completely built unit (CBU) instead of manufacturing it here at present. The company is playing it safe, considering that it may be a low-volume selling car compared to other Maruti models and the company does not want to use up plant space. As it is, it is already facing a backlog in production with the Dzire and Swift.

suzuki kizashi india
Photo: Suzuki Kizashi for India soon

 

Now this is a sort of Catch 22 situation for Maruti. If it’s fully imported, the pricing is going to be much higher (Rs. 18 lakh), and may affect sales. Competing cars like the Honda Civic, Skoda Laura, Volkswagen Jetta, Chevrolet Cruze and Toyota Altis are priced much lower. This pricing, in fact, takes the Kizashi almost into Honda Accord and Toyota Camry territory, but the car is a lot smaller and lacks features that one would want in a high-end luxury car (and again the image).

But if Maruti decides to stick its neck out and produce the car in India it faces the risk of the product not being accepted well, though it could easily price the Kizashi very competitively at Rs. 12 to 14 lakh. The company has already seen that problem with the Grand Vitara SUV that is priced around Rs. 15 lakh and made in India. Sales are sluggish, though the SUV is actually pretty good value for money. Maruti is likely to soon introduce a diesel engine for the Grand Vitara which should definitely improve its sales. Maruti has indicated that it will consider producing the Kizashi in India if demand is good, but that demand will only come if the initial pricing is competitive.

The Kizashi will initially sport only a petrol engine. Kizashi, as the name suggests, (‘something big is coming’ in Japanese) will mark Maruti Suzuki’s presence in the D segment. The total market size at present for cars in the D segment is about 55,000 units a year according to manufacturers’ estimates.

The Kizashi will be on road in India in the first week of February. It will be powered by the same engine that propels the Grand Vitara – a 2.4 litre petrol engine that develops 164 bhp at 6000 rpm and 225 Nm of torque at 4000 rpm. However, the power figures are likely to be bumped up by another 12 bhp in the Kizashi, making this a driver’s delight.

In the U.S. market the Kizashi comes with an all-wheel drive option, but the version that will be launched in India will be a front-wheel drive vehicle, featuring a six-speed manual transmission. This should make it an able highway cruiser, as reports indicate a top speed of 200 kmph and a 0-100 acceleration figure of 7.6 seconds. Maruti will also be offering an automatic transmission version as well, which will be a CVT (continuously variable transmission).

Design-wise the Kizashi is not very exciting, but is quite curvaceous. It does look like a rather mature SX4, but the similarity ends there. The Kizashi that Maruti has on display at its brand center is the same as the one displayed at the Auto Expo at the beginning of last year, sporting a rather conservative design. It is slightly longer than the Honda Civic and has better ground clearance as well, visually. Also read: Auto Expo 2012

Since volumes are likely to be low initially, Maruti plans to offer the Kizashi in only three colors and delivery time is likely to be about 45-50 days after booking.