Maruti Suzuki has successfully dominated the entry-level segments in India starting with the Alto and all the way to the S-Cross with each of its products amongst the top sellers in each segment. With Nexa spreading its wings, logically, Maruti will be looking to expand its portfolio in the higher echelons of the Indian car market.
Maruti Suzuki has already placed an order for a large number of the 2.0-litre Multijet turbocharged diesel engine, the one that powers the Jeep Compass. The 2.0-litre Multijet is available in different states of tune from 110bhp to 190bhp of power and with the Compass it has demonstrated its ability to handle four-wheel drive as well.
It is obvious that the 2.0-litre engine will not make it to the S-Cross as the 1.3-litre 90bhp mill has been dominating the S-Cross sales. After shutting down its American operations, the biggest car in Suzuki’s global portfolio is the Vitara, a beefier version of the Vitara Brezza sold in India. At 4.175 metres, the Vitara is almost as big as the Hyundai Creta, which makes it an unlikely candidate for the Indian market where buyers like their SUVs to be distinct.
This clearly indicates that Maruti Suzuki might have already started developing new products and has managed to keep the news under the wraps. With the quantum of engines ordered, it is likely that the new platform might spawn a D-segment sedan like the Hyundai Elantra or the Skoda Octavia and a premium SUV rivalling the likes of the Hyundai Tucson or the Jeep Compass. This might be the beginning of the return of the Grand Vitara, Suzuki’s revered SUV and a premium sedan akin to the Kizashi because only this size of cars will warrant a 170bhp 2.0-litre diesel in the current market scenario.
On the other hand, Maruti Suzuki is also said to have successfully developed an indigenous 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel engine which will most likely power the next-generation Maruti Ciaz and probably the upcoming S-Cross update. The new engine will help Maruti contain the royalty payments to Fiat, helping them reign in their manufacturing costs. The bigger engine for the Ciaz will help Maruti usher the car into the premium game, at par with the Honda City in terms of both price and performance and it might also power the Vitara Brezza in future.
Maruti Suzuki’s entry into the premium game will have a bearing on Hyundai which has successfully managed to defend that niche for itself. But with Kia, Peugeot and MG arriving in the next couple of years, the premium car market will become highly competitive. Also, in spite of Nexa’s operational success, Maruti Suzuki has found it difficult to shake off the entry-level carmaker tag which has been its bane for success in the premium market and Maruti will need to come up with something radical to ensure success.