Maruti-Suzuki, India's largest car maker, says the four-metre-long concept sits on an all-new platform and could form the basis for a compact SUV that sits between the pint-sized Jimny and larger Grand Vitara.
The Maruti-Suzuki XA-Alpha concept’s tapering roofline and pillar-less side windows echo the Range Rover Evoque, though despite the coupe-esque shape the show car features five doors – including reverse-opening rear doors.
Maruti Suzuki designer Jagjit Rana says the XA-Alpha is just a design study at this stage but could go into production as an all-new model for the company. It's expected to go on sale in India initially, targeting the country's burgeoning middle class.
“Replacements are due for those vehicles [Jimny and Vitara] but they are not this [concept],” says Rana.
“It is just a concept right now. We need to have market [customer] views on this – whether people like it or not. We’ll try to get it as close as possible [to the look of the concept if it goes into production].”
Rana, who is based in Maruti Suzuki’s Delhi design studio, says the XA-Alpha was a collaboration between Maruti designers in India and Suzuki engineers in Japan.
The production model is expected to be offered in both front-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive versions.
Rana says the company’s aim would be to make the production version of the XA Alpha more competent off road than the current Grand Vitara.
This would set the XA-Alpha apart from other similar products unveiled at the same 2012 Delhi Auto Expo – such as the Fiesta-based Ford EcoSport urban SUV that will go on sale in Australia in 2013.
Maruti Suzuki says it wanted to create a design that showed it was a vehicle suitable for both city life and more adventurous outings.
“Off-road elements were introduced,” says Rana, “[but] the graphics show we wanted to make it look very trendy. We also wanted to try to make it as sporty as possible.”
Maruti Suzuki says for the concept’s name, the “X denotes the crossover category and the A represents the first step for customers wishing to enter the SUV segment. The ‘Alpha’ points to the trendiness and newness that today’s youth connects to.”
At exactly 4000mm long, with a 2500mm wheelbase, the XA Alpha would sit perfectly between the ageing Jimny Sierra and Grand Vitara (pictured above) SUVs.
The Jimny measures 3645mm long with a 2250mm wheelbase, while the Grand Vitara five-door stretches to 4500mm with a 2640mm wheelbase. The three-door Grand Vitara is 4060mm long.
Suzuki owns 54 per cent of Maruti Suzuki, which accounts for about 40 per cent of sales in the Indian car market.