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New Zealand Accolade For New Suzuki Swift

New Zealand Accolade For New Suzuki Swift

The National Business Review has named the new Suzuki Swift the Small Car of the Year in New Zealand.

The 2005 award was presented to Suzuki in Auckland on September 15 by the leading weekly business publication eight months after the car went on local sale. The National Business Review recently won the Quantas Media Award for Motoring.

Peter Gill, Motoring Editor for the National Business Review, said the title had gone to the Swift because it had "the best price, a fantastic reception and a lithe performance along with a look of serious intent".

"On top of which it is simply fun to drive," said the Auckland-based writer who has been reviewing new cars since the sixties.

Beating off challenges from Honda, Nissan, Mitsubishi and Hyundai, the trendy European-inspired Swift five-door hatchback is proving to be the best-selling car Suzuki has ever sold in New Zealand.

"The Suzuki Swift took me by surprise," said Peter Gill. "Launched here in February, it has athleticism, style and on-road dynamics that immediately caught the attention of motoring writers”.

"Lease companies began showing it to their fleet customers and fleet people loved it. Then private sales began to take off," he said.

Gill said quite a few cars were available in the 1.5-litre hatchback range or thereabouts.

"But the Swift took the imagination of the market to the point that Suzuki experienced stellar sales and had trouble supplying," he said. "This is despite the Swift model line having come and gone from our market over the years."

Industry observers say the new Swift is changing the way many people think about Suzuki.

Eiji Mochizuki, the Japanese Chief Engineer for the Swift project, said, "We studied small European cars such as the Ford Fiesta and Citroen C2 and we think our car has a European identity not just in its styling but also the mechanicals”.

"Some Europeans told us our cars were too light, especially with the steering. So we wanted to give Swift European strength and solidity," he said.

Buyers have been enthused by the good balance between ride comfort and driver control, with the sure-footed road manners helped in part by a wide wheel track and long wheelbase.

The new Swift has been the major factor in fast rising Suzuki passenger car sales in New Zealand this year.

For the January to August period, new Suzuki car sales rose by 70 percent compared to the same period last year, according to Motor Industry Association figures.

This compares to a 6.4 percent increase for all new car sales in New Zealand.

Suzuki took 3.5 percent of the new car market in August, with its sales up 154 percent over the same month in 2004.

Tom Peck, General Manager of Marketing for Suzuki New Zealand Ltd, said, "We are delighted to receive the prestigious National Business Review award”. “We know the public and press have been very enthusiastic with their praise of the new swift and it is very nice to have that enthusiasm backed up with an award from respected critics as well”.

"Suzuki anticipated a great consumer reaction to the new model, but the response and enthusiasm to the car has exceeded our already high expectations," he said.

Despite the award-winning design and specification, prices for the new 1.5-litre five-door Swift start from a modest $18,990.


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