'Twenty-one years after starting to retail cars in Britain, we have finally secured a 1% share of total sales in the market and we believe the Wagon R+ is poised to play a substantial role in our long-term efforts to increase our UK share to 2%.' The respective models stemming from the shared mini-car platform come from separate factories in Hungary and Poland, and as well as having different frontal styling, the cars feature different running gear, with the Suzuki being unique in offering 1.3-litre power with a choice of manual or automatic transmission.
Due on sale on May 1, the Suzuki version will be positioned to compete with the Vauxhall, and though prices will not be revealed until nearer the launch, it is unlikely to cost more than the outgoing model. 'Suzuki's strength lies in its expertise in producing small cars and we intend to capitalise on this. To date, we've been seen largely as a retail brand, but as the cost of vehicle ownership continues to rise and fuel becomes ever more expensive, there is more pressure on downsizing in the fleet market. We are well placed to take advantage of this,' said Seward.
Suzuki Motor Corporation board member Takashi Nakayama said that despite being longer and wider than its predecessor, the new model still occupied minimum roadspace while offering particularly roomy interior accommodation.
'We have refined our original concept and worked hard to use space so that the new car feels much bigger inside than it is on the outside,' he said. An entirely new design, the latest Wagon R+ has a more rounded appearance while sticking to the original high-cube body shape with wheels positioned at the extremes of each corner. Other factors, which contribute to its softer, less quirky styling, are faired-in front light assemblies, a bolder grille, side protective mouldings, wrap-around rear lights and a more curved rear bumper.
Claimed to provide greater interior space than similarly-sized competitors, the Suzuki is able to offer 1,250 litres of cargo area with its rear seats folded flat. Boasting a 12-year anti-perforation guarantee and a three-year mechanical breakdown warranty, the initial UK market GL model will be fitted with twin airbags, power windows all round, central locking, tinted glass and colour-matched bumpers. It will also have deadlocks and an engine immobiliser, and options are likely to include air conditioning and an electric tilt-slide sunroof. A lower-specification GA trim level is also available, and a 1.0-litre-powered alternative could be offered later in the year.
Looking less ungainly alongside regular superminis, the latest car has a nippy demeanour around town and proves able to keep pace with traffic flow on open roads, where it cruises quietly at the legal limit. Surprisingly, it has minimal roll and its suspension gives it neat handling and tidy cornering abilities. Leg and shoulder room is generous for the size of the bodywork and the boot is surprisingly roomy with the rear seats in position. But no adjustment is provided for the steering wheel and there is no remote-release for either the bootlid or fuel filler flap. Vision to the rear also tends to be hampered by the large size of the rear seat head restraints.