The SX4 (priced at R7.14-9.53 lakh, ex-showroom, Delhi), completes a seven-year run which saw the car from being a strong initial contender to a small player in the mid-size sedan segment, in which Hondas new City is now the leader, followed by the Hyundai Verna.
The Ciaz, which has ready completed trial production at Maruti's Manesar plant, is expected to be longer and sport more premium features over the outgoing SX4. It is likely to feature two engines, the K-Series 1.4-litre petrol engine that currently powers the Ertiga, and a higher power (90HP) version of the Fiat-sourced 1.3-litre DDiS diesel engine. A more powerful 1.6-litre diesel engine variant may also be launched later to compete more aggressively with rivals.
A Maruti Suzuki spokesperson refused to comment, stating, We would not like to participate in the story.
The SX4 had a tumultuous journey in the market over the past few years. In FY14, volumes of the SX4 fell 40% to 4,029 units, while in FY13, volumes fell even more sharply by 63% to 6,707 units. In FY12, the SX4 volumes were down 23% to 17,997 units. In comparison, in FY14, the Honda City sold 35,844 units, while Hyundai Verna sold 45,734 units.
Automotive analyst for light vehicle forecasting at IHS Gaurav Vangaal said, Maruti is re-entering the segment with an all-new vehicle and nameplate and expectations are high. The product shown in Auto Expo was smart enough to attract the consumer, provided no major changes have been made in the final product. The competition is already tough with Honda city, Verna and Volkswagen Vento sharing most of the pie, but a strong features and well-priced products are always embraced by Indian consumer.
The SX4, which was launched in India in 2007 only in a sedan format always had a more crossover styling with the seating position higher than the most low-slung sedans. Initially, only a 1.6-litre petrol engine was available, with CNG option added to the range in 2010 and a 1.3-litre diesel engine option added later in 2011. The SX4 is the most premium car model produced by Maruti in India, barring two models imported from Japan the Grand Vitara SUC and Kizashi sedan. Last year, the SX4 had also received a significant facelift.