Drive Type: 4 wheel drive
Trim: 2 door
Waterford Works, New Jersey, United States
Volkswagen and Suzuki have been undergoing marriage counseling in a bid to avoid finalizing their nasty divorce. The blissful union has been troubled for some time, with Volkswagen claiming that it could affect operational decisions at Suzuki, and the Japanese brand's sniping and constant flirting with a certain Italian temptress causing rifts.
The matter first went to court in 2012, when Suzuki demanded VW get out, and leave its 19.9-percent stake in the Japanese brand in a box to the left. Now, Automotive News is reporting that the company will give the relationship one last shot, according to closed-door dealings between the two in London.
Still, it's understood that VW and Suzuki recognize the benefit of their alliance, and that it'd be in the best interests of the kids both parties to make things work. Spokespeople declined to comment to AN, but the newsmagazine spoke with Frank Biller, an analyst for LBBW in Stuttgart, who said, "Both companies stand to benefit if they can overcome the disagreements over leadership claims."
The death of Suzuki's American automotive operations can be chalked up to many, many things. One thing it cannot be blamed on, however, is the arguable goodness of its products. The company's criminally underrated offerings included the Kizashi sedan, the SX4 compact and your author's personal favorite, the Grand Vitara.
The GV rode on a radically different version of General Motors' Theta platform, which underpins the American manufacturer's current crop of crossovers, like the Chevrolet Equinox. What made the Grand Vitara special, though, was that it wasn't just another run-of-the-mill CUV. Buying the cheapest model meant living with rear-wheel drive rather than the Theta's typical front drive. Spend a bit of money, though, and you'd end up with an honest-to-goodness off-roader, sporting selectable four-wheel drive complete with low-range gearbox. It also comfortably sat five, was reasonably efficient and was quite handsome. We aren't totally sure how it turned into this.
This, of course, being the new Vitara (it replaces the Escudo, the vehicle Americans know as the Grand Vitara), and it will make its global debut at October's Paris Motor Show, which has ditched its four-wheel-drive system for a part-time all-wheel-drive system called Allgrip.
Suzuki might be dead in the US, but its cars are still thriving in many other markets. Aside from the updated SX4 and a slew of promising concepts at the Tokyo Motor Show, Suzuki is getting ready to launch a much-needed replacement for the aged Grand Vitara, and our spy photographers recently caught the compact SUV testing in Sweden.
Judging by these spy shots, the replacement for the current Grand Vitara - it may or may not retain the Grand Vitara name - will take its styling cues from the Suzuki iV-4 Concept displayed at last year's Frankfurt Motor Show. These cues include the narrow, angular headlights, the sloped D-pillars and we even get a hint of the sculpted rear-wheel arches. We hear that the new Suzuki SUV could go on sale in Europe next year, so we'd expect it to debut later in 2014.