Maruti Suzuki ran into turbulent weather last year with labour uprisings at its most important manufacturing line – that of the Swift’s, and the market slowdown and constant new product additions from rival manufacturers was making Maruti sweat.
To maintain its market share between 40-50%, refurbishing aging products is vital. To stay ahead in the race, Maruti revamped two of its best selling cars – Swift and Dzire – within a span of six months. In the next 12 months, here are some of the models that will shift to the next generation or make an appointment with the cosmetic surgeon.
Maruti Ritz facelift
Maruti Suzuki is learned to be testing a cosmetically enhanced version of the Ritz in North India. The new model is likely to reach the market before Diwali. Although we don’t have any confirmations from Maruti, variable valve timing technology could be supplemented to the 1.2 K Series engine following its introduction on the new Swift. Maruti also has the choice of strapping the Swift Dzire’s automatic transmission on the Ritz. The A-Star, Dzire and SX4 are also available in automatic variants, and the two models that could benefit from this technology are the Swift and the Ritz, and there’s no doubt that the Fiat-sourced 1.3 litre diesel will continue. The interiors of the car could undergo a facelift and we may find similar color schemes as seen on the 2012 MY A-Star. Coming to the looks, the headlights, grille and bumper are likely to be revised while the rear, though not to the liking of many buyers, may still not get a heavy redesign.
Maruti Micro Car
The second model that Maruti Suzuki is working on secretly is the replacement-model for the 800 and some variants of the Alto. Dubbed “YE3” by engineers and factory workers, the compact hatchback is rumored to be nearing the end of its development. Powered by a sub-1 liter petrol engine, Maruti will spread out variants to compete with higher end variants of the Nano and the full range of the segment-revitalizing Hyundai Eon. The new micro car will be pitched to the two-wheeler rider who now has a family and is looking to upgrade to a safe and comfortable car that costs less to buy and run. The Tata Nano used a similar formula for the Nano but failed to capitalize on the early advantage. Due to shortage in production and news about fires that gutted about half a dozen cars, the public opinion on the Nano was poor. Hyundai’s Eon is still in its early stages of life and we can see the company constantly working on new variants and learning to sell the car. Growth in this segment is hard to come by, but how many times in the past have we seen a launch from Maruti Suzuki turning it around?
Maruti Ertiga MPV
The Ertiga MPV is not a confidential product any longer as the company raised curtains from its compact seven-seat MPV at the Auto Expo in January. Anticipated to sit in the 7-9 lakh rupee price bracket, the Mahindra Xylo and Chevrolet Tavera better take guard. In fact they have resorted to rear guard action as the Xylo facelift was launched a few weeks back with refreshed looks, feature additions and a new mHawk diesel engine, while GM India silently introduced the top-end Neo3 variant with a new 2.5-liter CRDI engine that qualifies it for BS4 city retail.
The Ertiga is built using parts borrowed from the Ritz and the Swift. It has three rows of seats and the dashboard is a direct carryover from the new Swift, while the door trims, gear lever, front seats, etc are also picked out from the Swift’s inventory. Though we believe the 1.3-liter diesel engine licensed by Fiat producing 86bhp and 200Nm of torque will be its ticket to sales, there’s also going to be a new K Series petrol engine displacing 1.4 liters coaxing out 94bhp and 130Nm, and returning 16.02kmpl that will make the game interesting.
The Ertiga is expected to hit dealer floors in late March or early April and will reach the Indonesian market weeks after.
Shrawan Raja is the Managing Editor of the daily updated