Suzuki has had an surprising hit on its arms in latest years, in the unlikely form of the Ignis “light SUV”.
But it wasn’t at all times the case for Suzuki’s most cost-effective mannequin at $20,490 earlier than on-highway prices, now that the Baleno is bailing out of Australia, returning comparatively poor gross sales when launched in late 2016 after being ignored for increased-profile small automobiles from each inside and out of doors the firm.
In 2019, Suzuki registered 1074 Ignis fashions, towards twice as many Balenos and over six instances the variety of Swifts; to date this 12 months and nonetheless with 4 months to go (maintaining in thoughts provides are severely constrained), the corresponding figures are 1360, 5362 and simply 2889.
According to Suzuki Australia basic supervisor, Michael Pachota, it was delicate styling and advertising shifts throughout the mannequin’s midterm facelift in 2020 that opened up customers eyes to the Japanese-built excessive-driving hatchback.
“At the time of launch it was a slightly different car,” Mr Pachota advised CarsGuide at the MY23 S-Cross launch in Melbourne earlier this month. “It didn’t have those SUV characteristics (such as) roof racks, it didn’t have the cladding all around it; it didn’t have the same type of front bumper bar and so forth.
“(The pre-facelift Ignis) looked in market more like a small hatch versus a small light SUV, in terms of styling anyway. And once we updated that, (sales) took off. That styling was the change that product needed.”
In essence, the adjustments repositioned the Ignis away from being a Toyota Yaris rival and nearer to having the market nearly all to itself, basically as a much less-costly Hyundai Venue various. The latter, for the document, has recorded over 5000 gross sales to date this 12 months.
The lengthy-serving Suzuki boss added that, prior to the Ignis’ repositioning as a lightweight SUV in 2020, it was caught in the gross sales crossfire between the design-pushed Swift and bigger worth-for-cash Baleno in the $16,000 to $20,000 finish of the supermini market.
“We were flying with Swift and Baleno at the time too, and Ignis was kind of in that same price point,” Mr Pachota defined. “And, at that time, with the Ignis’ (pre-facelift) styling, it was like: ‘Which way do I go’ for buyers: Ignis? Swift? Or Baleno?’
“And with Swift and Baleno having that heritage in terms of nameplate and popularity in Australia, it made more sense for us to point (buyers) in that direction. It was a numbers name.
“Plus, with Ignis, we didn’t get that much supply back then. So, that held it back a bit too. But with the current Ignis, every single month we bring in cars, they’re all sold.”
Refuting some latest hypothesis suggesting that the Ignis shouldn’t be lengthy for Australia, Mr Pachota is assured that manufacturing for our market will proceed for the foreseeable future.
“At this present time definitely,” he mentioned. “Ignis is going very well for us. The more cars we bring in the more cars we sell.”
However, one cloud on the Ignis’ horizon is the spectre of ever-stricter security laws being launched, because it lacks some now-basic driver-help applied sciences – specifically Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB). Whether it lastly does achieve them is anyone’s guess at this stage, and maybe unlikely given the Ignis’ advancing years.
“Nothing has been confirmed yet,” Mr Pachota acknowledged when pressed on the AEB topic.
With the Ignis unlikely to be discontinued for the time being, it’s put one other equally-themed Suzuki additionally out of Japan and mooted for Australia – the XBee – on the backburner for the time being.
“I would love to bring the XBee to Australia,” Mr Pachota mentioned. “It’s such a cool car… but there are no plans at this stage.
“It was specifically designed for the Japanese domestic market and so sits on a Kei car platform.”
If the scenario adjustments and the Ignis does want to get replaced with the XBee or its successor (because it’s solely two years youthful than the Ignis, having been launched in Japan in 2017), Mr Pachota believes that Australians would gravitate to the newcomer for the identical causes.
“We all thought that about Ignis,” he mentioned. “But yet, the Ignis is doing fine. The XBee could be that funky alternative in the future if possible. I’d love that.”
The Ignis nameplate dates again to 2000, when the GM Holden-designed authentic that additionally spawned the first Holden Cruze AWD crossover launched in Australia, to middling critiques and lukewarm gross sales.
Its alternative was rebadged Swift to an enormous reputation upswing, whereas the badge migrated to the excessive-driving supermini we all know right this moment again when it was unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show in late 2015.
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