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Larger Suzuki Four Wheel Drive Model

Larger Four Wheel Drive Model Set To Broaden Appeal Of Suzuki

Suzuki is to enter a new market segment in New Zealand later this year with the introduction of its biggest ever production model.

The roomy and versatile new XL-7 will carve out new sales in the strong upper medium four-wheel-drive RV or recreational vehicle market.

It is destined to build on the solid reputation already established by the smaller Suzuki Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) and broaden the appeal of Suzuki vehicles. In effect, Suzuki is “growing” the market and offering a wider choice of models.

Unveiled recently in the North American market, the new Grand Vitara XL-7 is now in the process of entering other global markets where it is opening up new territories and opportunities for Suzuki.

In the United States Suzuki expects to sell 30,000 XL-7s this year. After exceeding its USA sales goal of 60,000 vehicles in 2000, Suzuki Motor Corporation expects the arrival of XL-7 will boost its total new car volume to 81,500 this year.

Suzuki predicts a large number of first-time Suzuki buyers will be attracted the XL-7. The highly successful Grand Vitara, which launched three years ago, really put Suzuki on the map in North America and has paved the way for the longer XL-7.

Three out of every four Grand Vitara buyers in the USA have been conquest sales and the larger flagship XL-7 five-door is also likely to appeal to people who had never previously considered a Suzuki.

Rick Suzuki, President of Suzuki in North America, said, “There is no denying that our influence in the industry goes well beyond our size and market share.”

In New Zealand last year the Grand Vitara was the second best selling four-wheel-drive SUV or Recreational Vehicle (RV) passenger car model. The arrival of the larger XL-7 will give Suzuki greater presence and a wider spread in the total new vehicle market.

The SUV sector accounted for around 10 per cent of all new vehicle sales in New Zealand last year and in 2001 has been taking a higher percentage of new passenger sales. Last year the expanding high profile SUV class was responsible for 7,106 new vehicles.

“Suzuki is known for producing well engineered, fun competent recreational 4WDs,” said Andrew Gillam, Automobile Marketing Manager for Suzuki New Zealand Ltd.

The company’s four-wheel-drive experience began more than 30 years ago with the lightweight Jimny LJ series which developed into the SJ Samurai, a pioneering small 4WD model sold in New Zealand when all-wheel-drive vehicles were few and far between.

“After creating the small recreational 4WD market 13 years ago with the three-door Vitara, Suzuki has continued to dominate the small recreational market with all the intervening models right through to the V6 Grand Vitara,” he said.

“Vitara and Grand Vitara have earned a strong reputation and loyal following,” said Mr Gillam.

“However, Suzuki was aware that to continue to grow it was necessary to provide another aspirational and bigger option for Suzuki customers and to entice those who may not have previously considered a Suzuki.”

Additional to the Suzuki range, the XL-7 is based on a special concept vehicle shown at last year’s North American Auto Show in Detroit.

Later in 2000, the Escudo XL concept car was displayed at the Tokyo international motor show. Reaction to the pre-production XL-7s in both Detroit and Tokyo was extremely positive.

The XL stands for “extra large” and the seven signifies seven seats. While visually aligned to the familiar Grand Vitara, the XL-7 measures 470mm more than the current five-door Grand Vitara and its wheelbase is 320mm longer.

Suzuki’s latest SUV entrant measures more in overall length than a Mitsubishi Challenger, Nissan Pathfinder, Ford Escape and Mazda Tribute while its wheelbase is longer than a Toyota Prado.

But it retains all the attributes of Grand Vitara, with an emphasis on comfort and safety. The vehicle has a separate, full-frame chassis, dual ratio transfer case, Drive Select four-wheel-drive and an exceptional towing ability.

The seven seater configuration will make the XL-7 a cost-effective alternative to people-carrying MPV models. Standard equipment includes three rows of seats which is unusual for the mid-size SUV category.

Suzuki plans to sell the new model in New Zealand with a comprehensive luxury specification and equipment level above that of the Grand Vitara. It will have features which are unique in the intermediate SUV class.

Exclusive to the biggest-ever Suzuki model will be a larger capacity, all aluminium, double overhead camshaft V6 engine with more power and torque than the current flagship Grand Vitara.

A worthwhile increase in engine torque has sharpened and enhanced on-road performance. Both manual and automatic transmission versions are to be offered in the New Zealand lineup.

“The XL-7 will appeal to families, business executives and the farming community,” said Andrew Gillam. “In addition it is sure to be earmarked by buyers who need a vehicle with genuine four-wheel-drive capabilities.”

Suzuki’s New Zealand preview of the XL-7 scheduled for the National Farming Fieldays at Mystery Creek, Hamilton, in mid-June. Vehicles are expected to go on sale from the 1st of August.

Production of the XL-7 is being carried out at Suzuki’s Iwata plant at Shizuoka in Japan. This manufacturing complex specialises in building four wheel drive vehicles, commercial vans and trucks.

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