The car that introduced the concept of ‘hot-hatch’ to the Pakistani auto community is no more. Yes, as confirmed earlier, Suzuki Swift cannot be bought ‘new’ anymore and while there is talk about Pak Suzuki launching the latest generation is not (officially) confirmed.
Related: Pak Suzuki Swift Discontinued
Sadly enough, the other contender in the hot-hatch category was FAW v2 and it too has been secretly buried without the official customary tombstone. Equipped by relatively powerful 1.3L engines, both these cars delivered what they promised, an entertaining driving experience with decent power and handling without missing out on niceties like ABS, EBD and EPS. Any driving enthusiast would rate these cars higher than their competition but as the sales charts show, they failed to deliver on what matters to the majority, resale and fuel economy. So the question has to be asked, is there really a market for decently performing hatchbacks in Pakistan?
Suzuki has had a monopoly in the sub 1000cc segment after the demise of Daihatsu Cuore. The introduction of Kia Picanto has partially challenged that status but Pak Suzuki still remains as the undisputed king of the hatchback segment and despite that, they were not able to move Swift in higher numbers compared to the 1000cc offerings.
Related: 1 Year of Toyota Yaris in Pakistan
Additionally, its not like the masses are shy of spending their hard-earned cash on cars with 1300cc+ engines. Both Honda and Toyota have had tremendous success in the sub-compact sedan segments with their City and Yaris respectively. These two facts are enough to conclude that while there is definitely a market for bigger engines, the consumers want them in the ‘bigger’ sedan body-type to make the offering successful.
It is not that Suzuki has not launched sedans. The Margalla, which was an elongated Swift to start with, had tremendous success in the lovely 90s and though the assembler was not served well by the ‘failures’ of Baleno and Liana, they didn’t shy away from offering the Ciaz albeit, at an inflated price point.
Related: Ciaz- You Will be Missed…
So, now that the news about Swift’s discontinuation has been confirmed, it is intriguing to see what Suzuki will replace it with. Will they go for the safer bet of launching an updated version of the hatchback which was spotted testing in Pakistan or will they look at other markets and see how they can again elongate the body to make the prospects of success brighter?
The dynamics of auto-industry have been rapidly changing thanks to the last auto-policy. The country has seen a flurry of launches from PKR 1.0m price point to in access of PKR 10m, but despite that, the hatchback and sub-compact sedan segments have stood the test of time by taking the lion’s share of sales as proven by the consistent high volumes of Toyota Yaris, Suzuki Alto and Cultus over the past few months. The enthusiasm shown for new comers like Changan Alsvin and Proton Saga also only further confirms the tremendous potential in the sub-compact sedan category especially if they come with a 1.3L naturally aspirated engine. The writing is almost on the wall, what matters is whether the decision makers at Suzuki share the same appraisal of the situation and introduce a product worthy of tapping this demand.
This brings us to the car that according to some will be the perfect candidate in the current situation. Suzuki Swift Dzire started its life as lengthened version of the same Suzuki hatchback that just got discontinued. The car was designed in India as a low cost sedan to appeal to the middle income earners striving to upgrade from a hatchback. The car went through facelifts and generation upgrades and in the process ended up losing the Swift nameplate to be called just ‘Dzire’. However, the car still shares the same underpinnings and almost all of its parts with the Swift hatchback that Pak Suzuki is rumored to be launching in 2022.
Suzuki Dzire in India
Admittedly, the first generation of Dzire was nothing to be proud of, it was a hideous looking sedan that looked like it had a trunk attached by force, but the new Dzire doesn’t look that bad. At one time it was the bestselling car in India too. Some would say it is even better looking than the competing Proton Saga. While the car comes equipped with a ton of features and is priced at around PKR 1.4 million in India for the basic variant, the top of the line model costs same as the Cultus in Pakistan at around PKR 2m. Strip some features down, localize the parts and you will potentially have the first locally manufactured Suzuki sedan in around PKR 2.5 million.
Of course, this is an opinion piece and there will definitely be other variables such as import restrictions and sourcing of parts (from India) which Pak Suzuki doesn’t manufacture locally but still, this is worth a shout since the sedan and hatchback versions are so similar. Only time will tell whether we will see an exciting sedan on Pakistani roads or we will get another hot-hatch that only few will buy.
Laraib is a petrolhead whose life would be empty without cars and computers.