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Suzuki Kizashi to seed more cars

Suzuki's Masaaki Kato admits there is more to come for the Kizashi range.

A sporty wagon is likely to be first, tapping the style and shape of a Kizashi concept car first shown in Frankfurt three years ago, with a coupe also on the planning program.

An all-wheel drive Kizashi is already in the works and approved for Australia and there could be a V6 engine to suit American buyers, although Suzuki is also believed to be examining the potential for a turbocharged four. There is also a petrol-electric hybrid close to a production sign-off, first for the USA in 2011 but also likely for Australia.

"We have an idea in mind for another body style for Kizashi," admits Masaaki Kato, Oceania marketing manager for Suzuki. "It is not something we can discuss yet, but we are working."

Kato admits the global financial crisis has hit hard at the Kizashi program, cutting sales forecasts from 200,000-plus to around 80,000 cars in the first year and reducing the money available for future model developments. But Kato says the Kizashi family will definitely grow and there will be mechanical upgrades to a car which is crucial to the company's future.

"We will have more for Kizashi in a couple of years," he says, without providing any detail. But an on-sale date in 2012 means Suzuki has already completed the next stage of the program, as it takes around two years to go from a design sign-off to full-scale production, and that points to a station wagon as Kato admits the sales potential for a coupe is limited and would only give a short-term boost to Kizashi.

Suzuki Australia is confident an all-wheel drive Kizashi - using similar components to its SX4 models - will do well in Australia but does not have a timetable. "When it's available we'll consider it. We're not ready and it hasn't been made available to us yet," says Tony Devers, general manager of Suzuki Australia. And the station wagon? "Not in the foreseeable future," he says.

Suzuki's new partnership with Volkswagen Group, which has taken a minority stake in the Japanese company, is likely to open many doors on the technical front including access to a V6 engine. But no-one knows the detail yet on the tie-up or the potential for a V6.

"It's still early days. No-one really knows how it's going to work,"  says Devers. "A V6 was initially reviewed, but it's not available to us at the moment."

It's a similar story for a diesel engine, even though Suzuki has big plans for the Kizashi in Europe. "They are studying but the diesel segment is quite small," says Devers.