Maruti Suzuki’s Upcoming Cars Must Address Brand’s Design Deficit

Truly speaking, the current fleet of cars Maruti Suzuki is selling fairly lack good designs and styling jargon. The trends are fast changing towards more of witty and amusing body designs. Maruti, the prime earner for the Suzuki group, is in need of good models with fresh and admiring designs to change the perception of a ‘budget brand’ and succeed beyond hatchbacks. It is getting ready for new launches later this year and in 2016 – a premium hatch YRA, compact SUV named YBA, and S-Cross crossover. Let us figure our whether these newbies are any seeds of progress.
maruti baleno

Suzuki YRA concept, which was later named as the new Baleno in the Indian market.

I’m not giving a false impression on Maruti Suzuki, they are certainly not as inspiring as others, say Hyundai, in the looks department. Partly because the company sells too many hatchbacks that are more or less similar and share a single platform. It can be the only firm to sell such variety of hatches in India (may be in the planet too!). These hatchbacks are ludicrously analogous, both in terms of sizes and designs. They are tall and upright with tapered shell (body) design. Large bumpers, narrow yet taller tyres, tiny and cramped cabins, and the list goes on. This problem is acute even amidst the latest models – Alto 800, Alto K10, and Celerio are less distinctive.
The SX4 sedan and its successor Ciaz can be an exception to the Suzuki’s sick-looking design. Kizashi and Grand Vitara are altogether a different league, yet Vitara scores pretty low on styling comparing to its rivals. Though every hatches Maruti produces sells like hot cakes, it must be admitted that they also lose to other smarter and cute looking rivals. If these cars were unique on their styling, their success feat would have be even more grand. In this scenario, Maruti is getting ready for few big launches in the months to come – new compact SUV, codenamed as YBA, YRA premium hatch, and a crossover SUV. Let us examine them in this regard.
The YBA is the production version of the Vitara iv-4 concept, spawned into the Vitara crossover, sold in European markets. This sub-4 metre SUV will feature new design formula, featuring a door mount spare wheel, and rugged styling. Sounds familiar because it is to be pitted against main rivals like the Ford EcoSport or Fiat Avventura. The design, as realised from the scooped images, isn’t particularly amazing or inspiring, looks more like a scaled-down Vitara. The square, boxy-cornered design is a bit too basic for SUVs in India. I doubt this car will turn your heads.
The spy shots of the YRA hatch reveal that it is likely to be larger than on going Swift. This car has some radical styling details, notably a sloping rear windscreen, a big, V-shaped grille and LED daytime-running lamps in the front bumper. Those body lines from front to rear and silhouettes are refreshing. This car makes me feel like it was designed keeping in mind the new Hyundai i20 which, of course, would be the real contender. It may also win over Swift in the segment. More importantly, this car would address two of Maruti’s other big criticisms — space and equipment — both of which is likely to be abundant than any Maruti hatch we have seen. A competitive pricing and value offering would be key to its success in our market.
The third model Maruti has in its bag for us is the new S-Cross. This is the second-generation of the SX4 (Euro-spec), from which our SX4 sedan was derived. The design involves a bold, characteristic crossover shape, dynamic lines and numeroussophisticated touches conjoining to create a highly distinctive look. Modulated lines running along the sides from front bumper all the way to rear lamps, plus a rounded bonnet signifying a sense of
strength and solidity. The sharp body line, wheel arch mouldings, skid plates and integrated roof
rails emphasise brashly the car is a born “crossover”!
The S-Cross is a selling model in Europe, and we understand that the styling has created mixed response among the buyers there. But as far as India is concerned, I believe that our crossover craze will make this car a grand success. This would be key for Maruti to liberate itself from the image of a ‘hatch’ maker to a more dynamic brand. Space and equipment is a big plus of this car, and a better practicality is assured. It is likely to be positioned a notch above the Ciaz sedan, making it costlier than Duster or Terrano.
Maruti vitara brezza

Suzuki YBA compact SUV concept, which was later named as Vitara Brezza in the Indian market.

There are also reports that the company is working on two more crossovers, based on the XA Alpha compact SUV concept. If the concept that was showcased at the 2012 Auto expo is anything to go by, the products must be ultra modern crossovers with new styling, and will be a pleasant upgrade for the Maruti’s conservative styling in those segments.
To conclude, Maruti Suzuki remains a top-seller in our market owing to its value offerings and brand image. A more dedicated progress on its cars designs and styling will be crucial for the brand to carry over its success in its upcoming offerings. While the Vitara compact SUV is nothing more than an inherited gloom, the S-Cross and the YRA premium hatch is a step forward in this regard.Photo Credits: Alvolante, CarToq

Dhiyanesh Ravichandran

Editorial consultant (Automotive and Technology), academic, and blogger based in India. He can be reached at

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