After the Renault Duster and Ford EcoSport, the next big compact SUV to come to India might be the production version of the XA Alpha. And if rumours are to be believed, the launch of the Maruti compact SUV can happen as early as September-October.
The Ford Ecosport is a runaway hit and cash counters at Ford are ringing non-stop with Ecosport bookings and deliveries. In fact, even though Ford had announced a recall of its diesel Ecosport which was speculated to dent its sales, the Ecosport continues to garner bookings unabated.
This achievement has certainly got every other manufacturer thinking hard. Most manufacturers are either developing their own compact SUVs or are testing them so that they can be launched as soon as possible. This includes Maruti Suzuki as well since the Ecosport has been instrumental in eating into the sales of the Swift and the dZire.
As we know, Maruti had displayed its concept compact SUV, the XA-Alpha at the Auto Expo last year and the vehicle had generated immense interest. It looked fresh, with sharp styling, appealing stance and the promise of affordable costs of ownership being a Maruti. In fact, rumours were afloat that Maruti would launch it during the first quarter of 2013. That, however did not happen.
Maruti will most likely launch it during the 3rd week of September and begin deliveries in October taking full advantage of the festive season, when car sales are at their highest.
However, test mules are unlikely to be seen on the roads because unlike other manufacturers, Maruti tests its vehicles in its Gurgaon plant and the ARAI certifications too happen at Gurgaon.
Meanwhile, Suzuki is about to show off its new SUV, the IV 4, at Frankfurt in September. The company has released teaser pictures of the SUV, and if you compare the front appearance of the IV 4 and the XA Alpha, the similarities are obvious. This might mean that the IV 4 is the production version of the XA Alpha, or that the design of the XA Alpha has been adopted for all SUVs from Suzuki. As you can see in the teaser image here, it is almost the same as the XA Alpha concept. We think the compact SUV, when launched in India, will look pretty close to the teaser image (which itself is pretty close to the XA Alpha concept!)
Like the Ecosport shares its platform with other small cars from Ford, the XA-Alpha will be based on the Maruti Swift. This will give Maruti a competitive cost model and will enable significant parts sharing.
We expect the X-Alpha to have a 1.4 litre 4 cylinder petrol engine and the now famous 1.3 litre 4 cylinder diesel multijet engine with a variable geometry turbo. The interiors will most probably be styled like the Ertiga with the addition of some features and a different shade to appeal to younger customers.
If launched at the right prices, the production version of the XA-Alpha compact SUV could be one more success story for Maruti Suzuki India. Watch this space for more.