Snapshot – It’s only in recent years that SUVs have begun taking the monocoque-front wheel drive road to lightness and fuel efficiency. Maruti Suzuki, known best for its fuel efficient hatchbacks, stayed away from the sports utility vehicle segment save for the Gypsy off roader and the Grand Vitara brand builder. And fuel efficiency is not the strongest suit of both the aforementioned vehicles. The car market in India is extremely dynamic, like it is in most parts of the world. This dynamism has seen the emergence of compact SUVs as viable alternatives to sedans and premium hatchbacks, so much so that every single car maker worth its salt is in its segment or is busy making plans to enter this thriving segment. As the country’s leading car maker, can Maruti Suzuki be far behind. The automaker has lined up a quartet of SUV offerings, seeking to target every segment in the sub 20 lakh rupee space. Here’s an overview of the automaker’s SUV foray.
The S-Cross is the successor of the high riding SX4 hatchback, and is a crossover that could send the Renault Duster and the Mahindra XUV500 reeling. The S-Cross, due for an India debut in the next few months, is a monocoque vehicle that will predominantly be front wheel driven. However, buzz in motown circles suggest that an all wheel drive option could also be offered in the crossover, and this could give the Duster AWD sleepless nights. Three engines are likely to be offered on this crossover, all of them 4 cylinder units – a 1.6 liter naturally aspirated petrol, and 1.3 liter and 1.6 liter turbocharged diesels. The S-Cross is likely to be sandwiched between the Duster and XUV500 in terms of price and positioning, making it a compelling option for those who seek a high riding vehicle with premium fit and finish levels.
YBA/XA-Alpha Compact SUV
The YBA code-named compact SUV, will be the production version of the XA-Alpha concept. An out and out volumes bagger, the YBA will be sold with petrol and turbo diesel engines. The 1.2 liter K-Series and the 1.3 liter Fiat Multijet turbo diesel engines are expected to be the options in store for this compact SUV. A launch in early 2016 is on the cards. In terms of pricing and positioning, the Ford EcoSport could be in the crosshairs of the YBA. A monocoque body and front wheel drive layout will be standard fare even as talk of an all wheel drive system served up as an option has been doing the rounds for sometime now.
iM-4 Micro SUV
Geneva 2015 saw Suzuki exhibiting a Micro SUV dubbed the iM-4 concept. The iM-4 is touted to have a production future in India as Maruti Suzuki first Micro SUV, and one that will see the country’s first such vehicle, the Mahindra S101, eye to eye. The iM-4 concept’s petrol hybrid powertrain is likely to be swapped for regular petrol and diesel engine options. A price warrior, the iM-4 is expected to sit cheek by jowl with Maruti Suzuki’s B-Segment hatchbacks such as the Swift and the Ritz. A monocoque body is a given while the concept surprisingly revealed a four wheel drive mechanism, which is unlikely to make it past the concept stage.
In many markets of the developed world, the Suzuki Vitara replaced the Grand Vitara. UK is a prominent right hand drive market where this phenomenon unfolded recently. There has been some talk about Maruti Suzuki bringing the Vitara to India, as the Grand Vitara’s replacement, but in 2018. More SUV than crossover, the Vitara could rub shoulders with the Skoda Yeti, and make a compelling case for itself in India, in the 15-20 lakh rupee segment, where a big vacuum exists. The SUV is currently sold with 1.6 liter petrol and diesel engines. Suzuki’s AllGrip four wheel drive technology is also on offer.