The Malaysian hatchback, which is expected to retail for around £6,000, is currently undergoing emissions and crash tests to ensure it is suitable to go on sale in the UK.
However, industry experts question the merit of bringing an unknown budget brand into the UK’s already crowded new car market, when established brands such as Kia are pushing for significant growth.
“We’re in the very early stages of the process,” says Arthur Fairley, spokesman for the IM Group, which already imports Subaru, Isuzu and Daihatsu. “It will be at least 18 months before the car is available.”
The five-door Sutera is Naza’s fourth car and comes with 1.1-litre, 16-valve engine giving 65bhp at 5,700rpm. Naza is also looking to manufacture a larger car, which Fairley says the IM Group would also be interested in.
“At the moment we’re not sure whether we’ll distribute the Naza brand alongside Subaru. If there were two models for sale, the Sutera and the larger car, then it would be possible to offer it to dealers as a stand-alone niche marque,” says Fairley.
If the planned import goes ahead, Naza would be entering into a budget brand sector that is becoming increasingly more saturated and competitive.
Peter Cooke, professor of automotive industries management at Nottingham Business School, says: “With the Chinese tipped to enter the market next, budget brands will face an uphill struggle in a tough trading environment.
“Dealers shouldn’t expect large volume sales from such marques, though. I predict they will remain a niche product.”
In Malaysia, Naza manufactures the whole Kia range, as well as the Peugeot 206, under licence for the Asian market. The IM Group has no plans to import these vehicles into the UK.