Suzuki Freshens Existing Product While Waiting For Volkswagen Assimilation

Some 50 United States Suzuki dealers may have just taken buyouts from the Japanese automaker, but company executives continue to say there are no plans to pull out of the market. Things are looking up for the Japanese automaker, which just sold a 19.9-percent stake to Volkswagen, with product integration between the two marques on the horizon.

Here’s what we know about Suzuki’s upcoming product plans:

Swift: Although the all-new 2011 Swift was initially intended to be launched in the U.S. later this year, Sukuki’s new tie-up with Volkswagen, combined with unpredictable exchange rates, have delayed the hatchback by a year. The Swift will only be sold in Japan and Europe until Suzuki officials are confident the automaker can turn a profit by offering the vehicle Stateside.

Kizashi: Although Suzuki had planned to offer a V-6 engine in its midsize Kizashi sedan, plans have changed. General Motors’ sale of its 20-percent stake in the Japanese automaker to VW resulted in the loss of the rights to the V-6. Not only did Suzuki lose the V-6 when it parted ways with GM, but it also lost access to a GM hybrid powertrain that was potentially destined for the sedan.

For 2011, just one year into its model run, the top GTS and SLS trim levels are set to receive a new front fascia with a lower grille. A sport package, consisting of body enhancements, a sport tuned suspension, 18-inch wheels, and an upgraded interior, will become available for 2011.

Equator: No more than a rebadged version of the Nissan Frontier, the midsize pickup’s destiny relies solely on Suzuki’s relationship with its Japanese competitor. The Nissan Pickup, now in its second generation, debuted five years ago, and isn’t due for a redesign for another few years.

Grand Vitara: Suzuki will continue to offer its small SUV for the 2011 model year, but its recent split with GM will force it to discontinue a V-6 powerplant. The sole engine option is a 2.4-liter I-4, which makes 166 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque.

SX4: The SX4, marketed as a MINI Cooper fighter, will most likely be redesigned for the 2012 model year. In the interim, Suzuki has given the three model variants a slight update for the 2011 model year and slashed pricing on its Sportback version by $1500, bringing its sticker price down to the mid-$16,000s.

Suzuki and VW are eagerly looking for ways to integrate vehicle technologies across platforms, but we’re told not to expect the first co-developed vehicles to become available for at least five years. What you like to see from the two automakers? Give us your thoughts in the comments section below.

Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)