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Europe to go it alone with Suzuki model's name

Suzuki is launching its new SX4 but the name might not stick in the UK and the rest of Europe.

Dale Wyatt, sales and marketing director of Suzuki's UK operations, said that a different name, S-Cross, is preferred for Europe because the new model is vastly different from the outgoing one.

"We have sort of won the battle," he said. "It will be badged as the SX4 S-Cross, although the SX4 bit will be much smaller."

The new crossover model, which was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year, is notably bigger than its predecessor, particularly in the rear where passengers get 44mm more leg room and an additional 39mm for their knees. There is also more cargo space.

Wyatt said: "We needed something bigger to be able to respond to customer expectations with regard to crossovers in Europe and it gives us a presence in an important and growing market area."

This crossover segment has gone from zero in 2006 to an expected 151,000 this year, a market kicked off by the launch of the Nissan Qasqai in 2007.

This remains the best-seller and has since been joined by the cars such as the Mitsubishi ASX, Peugeot 3008, Citroen DS4, Audi Q3, Vauxhall Mokka and Chevrolet Trax.

Wyatt described it as a "trigger" model helping push Suzuki through the 30,000 sales a year mark, up from just under 25,000 last year.

Other new models on the horizon are a new Alto, a B-segment SUV and a small family car.

He added: "We are on track with the half year total standing at around 17,000. Going forward 30,000 is a good number, I would be delighted with 35,000 and very surprised at 40,000."

"The S-Cross will allow us to focus more on fleet and to generate an increase in sales of around 20% over the next couple of years."

On sale from October 1, the new model will spearhead the brand's attack on the fleet sector - Suzuki is traditionally heavily reliant on retail business - which currently accounts for around 40% of sales.

The plan is to boost this to more than 70% led by motability and contract hire.

Prices will be announced in July but the range is expected to start at around £15,000 for the five speed transmission, two-wheel-drive 1.6-litre petrol SZ3. Diesel versions will likely carry a £2,000 premium.

Wyatt said: "What 's important is that it places us around 10% lower in price that our market competitors such as the Nissan Qashqai. As well as fleet the SX4 gives us access to the family market whereas we have been predominantly in the small car market.

"The crossover segment has become important as customers are looking for the versatility of an MPV but want the less boxy looks of something like a people carrier.

" If you put your purchase on a matrix, the SX4 really does tick all the boxes on space, performance, price emissions and safety, we are confident of getting a 5-star NCAP rating which is better than the outgoing model.

"This car will appeal to families, particularly to those coming out of mid-size or small hatchbacks as well as C-segment cars and SUVs."

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