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Suzuki SX4 to muscle up

The preview picture reflects a new approach to styling at Suzuki.

The Japanese company is joining the lemming-like rush into baby SUVs. Just as everyone from Ford to Holden and Renault is pushing into the sub-compact class that's developing below models such as the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, Suzuki is planning to reinvent its SX4 as a genuine SUV.

Until now it's been a lightly-worked Swift wagon with all-wheel drive, but that will change when the iV-4 concept goes into production in 2014.

A teaser shot of the iV-4 ahead of its public unveiling at the Frankfurt Motor Show next month points to a vehicle almost as large as the Grand Vitara, but with a much more car-like drive that will take it up against the Ford EcoBoost, Holden Trax, Renault Captur and others.

It's part of a new-car push that includes a replacement for the baby Alto and also the S-Cross newcomer. But Suzuki is keeping tight wraps on the iV-4, even from its Australian crew. "We currently have no information," the Suzuki Australia spokesman, Paul Ellis, tells Carsguide.

The preview picture reflects a new approach to styling at Suzuki, including what is likely to be a clamshell bonnet - similar to the Mini -  and a split grille with a new shape of LED running lamps. The side profile is typically SUV, with a practical back end and workable ground clearance.

Suzuki fans cannot wait for the iV-4 and the rest of the brand's new models, after a product drought created by the Global Financial Crisis. "The last big launch we did was the all-new Swift in 2011 and 2012 with the Sport model. We're getting some product back in the veins again, which is nice," says Ellis.

He confirms the new Alto as well as the SUV push. "Over the next couple of years we're looking at S-Cross, the new Alto and this compact SUV from the iV-4."

The concept shown at Paris last year becomes the S-Cross and that will hopefully be here before year's end. Then we have the Alto and what comes from the iV-4. But we will have to wait another month even for the first look at that one."

This reporter is on Twitter: @paulwardgover