Fronx, XL6, Jimny 5-door: All you need to know about Suzuki's 4 new cars headed for SA in 2023

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Suzuki is one of the top automakers in South Africa. They've been beating their sales records and dominating the passenger sales market with gusto alongside the country's two leading brands. Four new models will be added to the automaker's local line-up this year. News24 Motoring contributor Tyrone Paulsen was at the 2023 Auto Expo India to see the new cars in the metal.

South Africa is a very brand-centric country; this is quite evident when it comes to the clothes we wear, the shops we frequent, the type of mobile device we use, and the cars we drive.

When Suzuki Auto South Africa entered the market in 2008, they knew what they were up against. Since then, they have won numerous consumer awards and captured the hearts of South Africans, so much so that they are listed as South Africa's third most popular car brand, following Toyota and Volkswagen with total sales of more than 47 000 cars for 2022.

Suzuki Jimny
Suzuki Jimny

They achieved this by offering an extensive range of affordable, well-specified products and good aftermarket service. Now, the Japanese automaker is about to expand its model line-up with four new products for the local market, which was showcased at the Auto Expo 2023 in New Delhi. These include the much anticipated five-door version of the Jimny, a new Grand Vitara, the all-new Fronx, and the XL6.

The five-door Jimny will still use its 1.5-litre normally aspirated engine with 75kW and 130Nm coupled to either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. It has now grown by 360mm and will boast two extra doors with more rear legroom and, of course, a larger boot. 

WATCH | Finally, Suzuki is bringing a 5-door Jimny to SA - now it's the perfect family car

The go-anywhere attitude of the Jimny will continue as it will still use Suzuki's AllGrip 4WD system, with a rear slip diff and low range. We've heard from local sources that it should arrive on our shores towards the end of 2023. Pricing has not yet been confirmed and will be revealed closer to its launch. We estimate it might just tip the price scale at the R400k mark.

Suzuki Jimny 5-door revealed at 2023 Auto Expo Ind
Suzuki Jimny 5-door revealed at 2023 Auto Expo India.

South Africans got their taste of the new Grand Vitara at the Festival of Motoring in August 2022 at Kyalami. This time, however, we got up close and personal with the car at the Auto Expo. 

The previous generation was more of a 4x4 offroader; however, the new generation is designed more as a modern, urban SUV and will introduce a more premium feel to the local line-up. It includes extra features like a 360-degree all-round camera, wireless phone charging, and a high-definition 9" infotainment system and will also be available with the AllGrip all-wheel drive system. Engine specs have not yet been confirmed for the local market, but sources say it could be sporting either its popular 1.5-litre, 4-cylinder engine or the 1.5-litre dual-jet engine with mild-hybrid technology.

Suzuki Grand Vitara
Suzuki Grand Vitara

Introduced to the world at the Auto Expo 2023, alongside the five-door Jimny, was the new Suzuki Fronx, which uses the same underpinnings of the Baleno. You'd be surprised at just how stylish this car is. Sadly, it was overshadowed by the Jimny launch, which we later discovered has not been offered in the Indian market. With its sloping roofline, large grille with framed LED headlights, LED light bar taillights, blacked wheel arches, and dark blue metallic paint, this launch model was quite striking to look at, giving it a hatchback feel. 

The engine line-up for South Africa is still unknown, but the Indian market will get a naturally aspirated 1.2-litre and a 1.0-litre Boosterjet turbo engine. If its looks are anything to go by, the South African market could gravitate to this one, price dependent, of course.

Suzuki Fronx
Suzuki Fronx

My only concern is that the moniker Fronx might not resonate with the local buyers - regarding South Africans being brand conscious. However, it's a good-looking car and ticks many boxes for the type of cars we want around here, so everything else might override its name. 

The final car set for our market at Auto Expo 2023 was the Suzuki XL6, a compact six-seater crossover or MPV. It has SUV styling, but with the higher roof line, it could give its stable mate, the Ertiga, the Honda BRV and Renault Kiger, a serious run for their money. It has protective body cladding, a raised ride height, and two-tone alloy wheels making it more visually appealing. 

Suzuki XL6 revealed at the 2023 Auto Expo India.
Suzuki XL6 revealed at the 2023 Auto Expo India.

The XL6 uses a normally aspirated 1.5-litre powertrain coupled to a mild hybrid system. Which means it should deliver some good fuel economy. What makes this car unique is its six seats, with the middle row having two Captain-styled seats, which makes sense as usually the seventh seat, whichever seat that may be, is never really used in real-life situations.

Suzuki also announced its first-ever electric vehicle, the eVX. It is a 4x4 SUV sporting a 60kWh battery with a claimed range of 550km. Speaking at the launch of the Suzuki eVX, the president of Suzuki, Toshihiro Suzuki, said: "I am delighted to unveil the eVX, our first global strategic EV. At the Suzuki Group, addressing global warming is a priority. 

"We are promoting a range of global measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Suzuki will continue providing valuable products to our customers worldwide by optimising them for the way different people live and drive."

Suzuki South Africa will continue to assess the eVX's viability and will likely use the Suzuki Vitara hybrid, expected as early as 2023, as a practical stepping stone.

Overall, Maruti Suzuki, India's most popular brand, pulled out all the stops showcasing their newest editions. Suzuki Auto South Africa has chosen some very good products to add to their line-up. Here's to seeing how these new additions will perform in the local market, possibly making an even more significant challenge to the traditionally chosen brands' top spots, and which will hopefully help the automaker attain an even bigger piece of the market share pie.

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