February 20, 2018, 3:56 pm
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Suzuki targets millennials with reintroduction of Vitara to PH

by Raymond B. Tribdino 

SPORTS utility vehicle was not yet a buzzphrase when Suzuki introduced the Vitara in 1988, a full six years before Toyota coined the phrase to describe its RAV-4. It was the Vitara that started the compact sports utility vehicle trend in the U.S. and Japan and later in the Philippines when the first cars were imported into the country. 

After Suzuki Motor Co. Japan took over the Antonio-Suzuki Corporation to create Suzuki Philippines (SPH) in 1985, one of the first things it did was introduced small utilitarian models among the tiny but mighty Samurai in 1990 and the Vitara in 1994. The Vitara was first introduced with a manual transmission on a 4x4 platform and in 1996 with an automatic transmission in a 4x2 model. For 10 years the Vitara persisted until in 2004 it was discontinued due to lagging sales. 

The all-new Vitara leverages of its own powerful SUV heritage of more than three decades. The Vitara has been known for enhanced driving performance, and off-road capabilities. In addition it was marketed under various brands and names as it was a shared platform through the magic of badge engineering. 

The all-new Vitara, according to SPH Automobile Division General Manager Shuzo Hoshikura will encourage individuality, personalization, safer driving and fuel efficiency and does not forget its design and personality roots.

“This new Vitara is not only a new vehicle launch for us. It also expresses our technology and our passion to design exactly what the market wants. Suzuki thought of the Vitara legacy in the designe process and now it puts this modern design trends to target the millennial market,” Hoshikura says.

When asked what sets the Vitara apart from the over 20 other offerings in the compact SUV market, Hoshikura was quick to reply.

“Suzuki has a long history of SUV development. We put these technological innovations, into the all-new Vitara but we upgraded the looks and technology for the new world. This means to  incorporate modern elements to make it perfect for city driving. We also took this DNA and look at the young Filipino drivers, specifically millennials and put the design elements that express the individuality and personalization they look for,” Hoshikura explains.
 
Faithful to Suzuki SUV’s original styling, the new Vitara’s rather exterior design exudes a strong yet sophisticated presence through its proprietary Suzuki SUV signature clamshell bonnet. 

The new Vitara measures in with a height 1,775mm, and 4,175mm length, and a minimum ground clearance of 185mm. It also stands for, making it the longest and widest in its class with the best turning radius performance.  

There are tons of safety equipment included in the Vitara including a 6-point airbag system comprising of dual, curtain and side airbags for the driver and passenger, cruise control system and speed limiter, ultrasonic sensors in the front and rear bumpers with reverse camera that detect obstacles during parking, an automatic light system that turns headlamps and tail lamps on and off, and automatic rain sensing wipers. But what adds distinction to the Vitara are uniquely designed, vertically oriented daytime running lamps which is standard in the GLX model. Energy-saving LED headlamps with a blue projector cover come standard with the GLX model, while Projector halogen headlamps featuring good light distribution for the low beam are used in the GL and GL+ models.  

The Electronic Stability Program (ESP) automatically controls the engine torque and brakes upon detection of a wheelslip to ensure the driver maintains directional control. ESP allows for control both coming up and going down a hill. This ensures the driver the prowess to prevent the vehicle from rolling backward on an upward climb.

In the event of a collision, the new Vitara has an impact-absorbing design focused on the front bumpers. The brake pedal release system limits the pedal’s movement toward the driver in case of a frontal impact. For further protection for the occupants, the Vitara’s Total Effective Control Technology (TECT) absorbs impact and the seatbelts use force limiter to mitigate impact to the chest.

The previous version of the Vitara had spartan looks and feel to it. 

The all-new version features interiors that combine muscular contours and a sporty feel. The instrument panel conveys a youthful look with its upper linear design that includes a round clock and a round air outlet.

The seats use high-quality fabric, with the GLX model featuring a combination of leather and suede-type fabric for an even classier feel. The Vitara GLX also features a panoramic sunroof designed with two glass panels that can be both slid to provide the biggest opening in its class and added premium to the unit. The GL+ and GLX models also feature a footwell lamp and keyless push start system. 
The Infotainment features 

handsfree connectivity, the system packs navigation, Bluetooth auo and a USB port. The GLX variant enable on-the-go connectivity through its Wi-Fi support while the MirrorLink function links the rider’s smartphone with the SUV’s Android based infotainment system. Available in 10 inches for GLX, the biggest in its class, while GL+ and GL variants sport the 7 inch monitor.Luggage space can accommodate up to 375 liters, expandable by lowering the luggage board or removing the dividers on both sides of the luggage area. To accommodate large suitcases, the rear seats can be folded to make way for up to 710 liters.

Boasting the lightest curb weight in its category, the all-new Vitara delivers enhanced fuel efficiency. Its updated 1.6-liter engine torques up to 156Nm at 4,400 rpm and a maximum power of 115hp at 6,000 rpm, said to be the best in its class. Coupled to the newly developed 6-speed AT system results in a system that responds to the challenges of city driving and traffic through reduced friction, weight and idling speed, all toward achieving better fuel economy. 

“Equipped with top of the line features, the new Vitara will enable the Filipino driving public to freely express their individuality through its unique design and a wide selection of colors to choose from. Apart from this, the Vitara is designed with enhanced safety features and superior fuel efficiency. Backed by all these features, we are hopeful that the new Vitara will appeal to the Philippine market especially among millennials,” Suzuki Motor Corporation Global Automobile Planning Department General Manager Nobutaka Suzuki says after the launch.

For his part Suzuki’s Asia Automobile Department General Manager Shigeo Takezawa expressed his confidence on the return of the SUV to the country to spread the gospel of the Suzuki Way of Life to more Filipinos. 

“On behalf of the Suzuki Motor Corporation, I would like to congratulate Suzuki Philippines for successfully bringing in the new Vitara. May the launch of the new Vitara inspire you to show the same level of commitment and dedication to share with more Filipinos the Suzuki Way of Life. We have high hopes that the addition of the new Vitara to the Suzuki Philippines’s lineup of vehicles will drive more sales and increase customer satisfaction,” Takezawa said.

Already the units allocated to some dealers are practically sold out.

“We have placed orders for 100 units and our allocation of 50 units have been sold out. Our customers have placed downpayments and are waiting for the next 50 units to arrive,” Tey Sornet, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at the LICA Auto Group says. LICA is one of strongest Suzuki dealers in the country with branches in Manila and in the South Luzon area.

 “Through these, we believe we will enhance the Filipino driving experience, which is at the core of bringing drivers closer to the Suzuki Way of Life.

Equipped with the longest, and widest dimension in its class with the best radius performance, the features of the new Vitara are aimed at providing the best value in terms of design, performance and fuel efficiency. Setting it apart from competition, the subcompact SUV allows drivers to freely express their individuality and personalize their vehicles with its wide array of colors and accessory packages. Millennials can look forward to a safe, comfortable and optimum driving experience that for many years Filipinos have anticipated with the next-generation Vitara,” Hoshikura concludes

The new Vitara will be sold for P1,048K for the GLX and P938K for the GL.
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