Motowns new hatchback

Written by Malabika Sarkar | Malabika Sarkar | Updated: May 16 2009, 05:49am hrs
Ever since Maruti decided to phase out the M800 and Omni from the Indian metros (as they wont be able to match the upcoming emission norms), consumers have been enthusiastically waiting for the next big launch from the automobile giant.

The wait is finally over.

India has been getting all the latest products developed my Suzuki, be it Swift, SX4 or the Grand Vitara. And now its time for the Splash to come home. Suzuki Splash made its world debut at the 2007 International Motor Show in Frankfurt and was placed in the super-mini category in the European market.

After the huge success of the car in the European market and Japan, Maruti Suzuki has launched Splash in India as Ritz. However, the Indian version, Maruti Suzuki Ritz, is different from original Splash in terms of engine specifications, inter-iors and suspension, which are redesigned to suit Indian road conditions and customer preferences.

Ritz is Indias first BS-4 compliant car. It will be available in two variants, petrol and diesel. The 1.2 litre K12M petrol engine offers 85PS power and a fuel efficiency of 17.1 kmpl. The 1.3 litre DDiS diesel engine, used in the diesel variants of Swift and Swift DZire, gives a fuel efficiency of 21.1 kmpl and 75PS of turbo power.

In the petrol range, Ritz will have three modelsLXi, VXi and Zxiand the diesel twoLdi and Vdi.

It is priced at between Rs 3,90,000 and Rs 4,80,000 for the petrol version. The diesel variant of the car will cost between Rs 4, 65,000 and Rs 4,99,000 in Delhi.

Designed as a tallboy hatchback, the Ritz is positioned at the premium end of the compact car market. With this, Maruti Suzuki aims to consolidate its leadership in this highly competitive A2 market segment, where it already has five compact offerings: Alto, WagonR, Swift, Zen and the newly-launched A-Star.

The segment has recorded a growth of around 17% in last fiscal. With 58%, Maruti commands the largest share of the A2 segment.

We expect an enthusiastic response from the Indian market as the Ritz combines modern European design, the sportiness of the Swift, the latest engine technology (K12M engine) and Suzukis globally acclaimed expertise in compact cars. The design of the Ritz is based on Suzukis concept Splash which in turn is based on the Swift platform, says a Maruti Suzuki spokesperson.

Ritz has been conceived on the theme of family and is positioned as "a car for everybody". The key elements that guided the development process were drivability, passenger comfort and contemporary interiors.

Maruti Suzuki India is already the largest operation among Suzukis subsidiaries across the globe. It sold a total of 7,92,167 vehicles in 2008-09. This marks a growth of 3.5% over the previous year. With the launch of Ritz and by pushing existing models, Maruti expects to beat the 3.5% industry growth forecast for car sales for 2009-10. The company is banking on rising demand from rural areas and overseas markets to boost sales.

The slowdown has affected our bottomline growth but has spurred us to explore other marketing avenues such as rural India. With focused initiatives for such market segments, we were able to grow 3.5% during fiscal 2008-09 while most other car manufacturers recorded a decline, says a company spokesperson.

Parent Suzuki Motor Corporation (SMC) aims to make Maruti Suzuki a global research and development hub. SMC has also said that India would be the global small car development hub outside Japan for other markets.

That the company chose India to be its sole manufacturing and export base for Suzukis world strategic model A-star bears testimony to its plans. In fact, the only diesel engine manufacturing facility of Suzuki in the world has been set up in India, at Manesar in Gurgaon district of Haryana.

Small car segment to be Jazzed up soon

Honda Siel Cars India will soon launch its premium compact hatchback Jazz with a 1.2 litre iVTEC petrol engine. If technical specifications are anything to go by, Ritz may not just match up, but may actually pip the Jazz to the post. With an almost similar engine (the Jazz churns out 90 PS of power as against Ritz 85 PS, and returns a fuel efficiency of 16 kmpl as against Ritz 17.1 kmpl). Maruti Suzuki will certainly have a price benefit on the Jazz. According to reports, Jazz will sport a tag of Rs 7 lakh against Ritz Rs 3.90-Rs 4.99 lakh. With Honda not planning a diesel version anytime soon, Ritz seems to have the upper hand, at least for now.