The Suzuki Swift is spawning spin-off concept and production variants.
Both the Ertiga compact multi-people carrier (MPV) and XA Alpha concept SUV models are developments of the highly popular Swift.
They were among several new Suzuki developments attracting attention at the 11th Auto Expo 2012 in New Delhi.
The models are being showcased by Suzuki Motor Corporation’s Indian automobile subsidiary, Maruti Suzuki, highlighting the increased cooperation between Japan and the fast expanding Indian motor industry.
Based on an extended Swift platform, the five-door Maruti Ertiga is scheduled to go into production later this year. It has a clean-looking front end, pronounced wheel arches and facia, all clearly reminiscent of the latest generation Swift.
But with its taller body – a generous 175 mm more than a standard Swift – and 175 mm increase in wheelbase, the Ertiga is a much larger vehicle, marking Maruti’s debut in the utility vehicle segment.
With a 415 mm increase in overall length to 4,265 mm, this is a genuine seven-seater with a two-plus-three-plus-two seating arrangement.
The configuration of seats can be adjusted to free up luggage space by folding the last row and also the individual seats in the middle row of the black and beige finished interior.
Suzuki will offer the Ertiga in India with the choice of the same 1.4-litre K14B twin overhead camshaft engine used in the current Swift and a 1.3-litre DDiS turbo diesel.
The car inherits its name from the alphabet “R” that represents “ROW” and “TIGA” that implies the digit “3” in Indonesian language, meaning a three-row car.
Ertiga boast a rigid body and an extremely quiet cabin with low levels of noise, vibration and harshness (NVH). A low drag body includes double sealing of the lower side panels and doors for reduced wind and road noise.
Additional utility features such as cup holders, side pockets and storage bins add to the practicality of a vehicle that is sure to win favours.
Suzuki believes Ertiga redefines space utilisation in the compact class and while it will initially be built for the Indian market, it may eventually be exported.
Shinzo Nakanishi, managing director of Maruti Suzuki, said, “With Ertiga the Maruti Suzuki will step into the Utility Vehicle segment and effectively create a new compact MPV segment in India.”
Consumer reaction to the dramatic looking XA Alpha, with its “fighter jet” canopy-like window line, will be assessed before Suzuki makes a decision on the vehicle’s production future.
Sharing some styling pointers from the Range Rover Evoque – which is the same height – the XA is 4,000 mm long and fits between the smaller Suzuki Jimny and larger Grand Vitara. The 2,500 mm wheelbase is slightly more than a production Swift, and 250 mm greater than a Jimny.
The five-door body features a high “five block” grille and hawk-eyed headlights, flared guards with extenders and under body protection, pillarless side windows, heavy duty bumpers and short front and rear overhangs.
Four-wheel-drive off-road capability is claimed to be excellent and the XA, which took nine months from paper sketch to concept reality, may also be offered in two-wheel-drive, front-wheel-drive form.
Sitting on large 19-inch diameter alloy wheels and 225/55 series tyres which probably would not be adopted on a production model, the motor show version of the XA drew crowds in New Delhi. XA can be powered by a range of Suzuki K-Series petrol engines or a 1.3-litre diesel aIternative.
While XA is just a design study at this stage, it could go into production as an all-new model for Maruti, selling to India’s burgeoning middle class. Suzuki said the company would try and get the XA to look as close as possible to the concept model.
The “X” denotes the crossover category and the “A” represents the first step for customers wishing to enter the SUV segment. “Alpha” points to the trendiness and newness that today’s youth connect to.
Maruti also displayed a stylish orange-coloured convertible version of the Alto which is Suzuki’s smallest model sold in New Zealand.
Ertiga and XA Alpha are the result of significant initiatives towards the unification of research and development efforts of Maruti with Suzuki in Japan.
Maruti assisted with the engineering on the Swift, SX4 and Alto models, and is targeting more than 50 per cent of the Indian market within three years.
In New Delhi Shinzo Nakanishi, said, “India is set to become one of the top automobile markets of the world.
“Maruti Suzuki will lead India’s automobile growth and evolution by strengthening its compact car portfolio, entering new segments and creating new product categories across fuel options,” he said.
With an annual capacity of 2.5 million units, India is expected to become a significant global market player by 2015 and will be the third largest car market in the world by 2020.
Currently, the fuel efficient Alto five-door hatchback is the only Indian-built Suzuki car sold in New Zealand.