The new Suzuki S-Cross might be built in Hungary but it will still make it to New Zealand as a used import from Japan, sooner rather than later.
The crossover will go on sale here next month. Suzuki NZ managing director Tom Peck has budgeted on sales of around 1000 units in 2014, or roughly 20 a week.
He doesn’t know how many S-Cross units will land as late-model used imports next year, but it can be said that Suzuki is perhaps affected more than most by the country’s parallel import policy.
For example, Peck expects Suzuki’s new-vehicle sales for 2013 to total around 5000 units. At the end of November it had sold just over 4518 vehicles, according to Motor Industry Association figures.
Used-import Suzukis for the same 11 months totaled 4876 units, or upwards of five per cent of all used imports so far this year. Suzuki’s share of the new-vehicle market is just over four per cent.
The slow sales this year of the hatchback Suzuki Splash can be blamed in part on used imports. Suzuki NZ sold 273 Splash units last year but only 199 so far this year. In comparison, it had sold 2746 new Swifts at the end of last month.
“Late-model Swift imports may have affected Splash sales this year, which are behind 2012 levels,” said Peck.
“Some people are obviously buying a late-model used Swift instead of a new Splash, either because they want a Swift or they know Swift has a good resale value.
“I’m not sure of the exact effect of the imports but, for instance, the (Mitsubishi) Mirage has sold quite well and it is very similar in spec and price to Splash, so it seems Suzuki is more affected by the Swift imports than some other brands.”
Did Peck see this coming? “It was always a possibility we would see more used imports of popular models – not only Suzuki – when the exchange rate against the yen turned around mid-year.”
Peck’s target for C-Cross of 1000 units next year is based largely on 1200 sales of the SX4 model in its first year, 2008.
“The market was good then. It is good now, too, being driven by SUVs and commercials, but private sales are not as strong and that has hurt us,” said Peck.
The S-Cross is 150mm longer overall than the first generation SX4, a dimension that allows for a 100mm-longer wheelbase. The car is fractionally wider and lower, too.
Yet despite the larger dimensions, the turning circle for the S- Cross is actually tighter than that of the SX4, making the car more manageable in the city.
Its strengths, says Suzuki, are class-leading interior space and fuel economy from the 1.6-litre petrol engine, a detuned 86kW/156Nm version of the Swift Sport unit mated to either a five-speed manual or (CVT) continuously variable transmission.
Suzuki claims town-and-around fuel use of 6.2 litres/100km (46mpg). S-Cross is available in front-drive or all-wheel-drive configuration.
Pricing starts from $27,990 for the GLX front-drive example and $30,990 for the four-paw Allgrip. All Suzukis come with a five-year warranty.