Yesterday, a whirlwind of spy shots uncovered what looks to be the SX4 replacement Suzuki will start shipping to lots later this year. So far, observations of the new pint-sized every man rally car look promising, including possible turbo power and a handsome, if unremarkable, interior. But, will it be enough to satiate the appetite of Anglo American tastes? Or does American Suzuki need to focus more on the brand image train?
Up until this point, we were of the belief the SX4 would receive a facelift versus a full model replacement for the 2013 model year. However, as the auto photogs have revealed, there seem to be some major dimensional changes between the camo car and the current model. Underneath the auto burka are some Kizashi like styling features, such as a revised grille and new headlamps, and what might possibly be an intercooler behind the lower grille.
But, if NPR’s Sonari Glinton’s street corner survey is any indication of the market, a new SX4 isn’t going to matter. After asking a few people in Ann Arbor, MI to name all the Japanese brands available in the US, the results were not surprising for the majority of us:
KATHY KENNEDY: OK. Toyota, Honda – that’s all that comes to mind.
JAMES HAMILTON: Oh, pretty much. Yeah. Toyota, Hyundai, Miata, Mazda, Lexus.
EILEEN KNEIPER: Toyota, Nissan, Honda. I think that’s it.
In an industry where reputation and image are everything, American Suzuki is hiding from the camera. Before any new product gives Suzuki the increase in sales it needs in order to sustain business in the United States and Canada, a major overhaul of their marketing is needed (like hiring someone to actually do marketing), focusing on the brand instead of this month’s incentives, so people know that Suzuki still exists.
Hear the lack of outcry? That’s the deafening silence of a brand’s once-loyal customers not caring enough to speak up.