It was sort of inevitable that other Asian car manufacturers jump on and start creating hot hatches for the World Rally Championship. Hyundai are currently working hard on their WRC car, set to be a 2.0L turbo AWD. And now Suzuki have confirmed that they are working even harder to steal the light from Subaru and Mitsubishi rally cars (WRX STi, Evo respectively) with a new, still to be named vehicle based on the SX4 platform with All Wheel Drive.
The new Suzuki is set to follow the same formula as the WRX (of old) and the current Lancer Evo and come with a 2.0 Litre Turbo charged AWD, bang for you buck style engine giving out around 150kW of power. Unfortunately, this news is a little premature as the plans to bring the car to Australia are still a good 3-4 years away.
Even so, there is still not even a absolute confirmation of the cars full production. Hirotaka Ono, Suzuki board member and boss of international marketing, says that "could" is the operative word. A decision to actually go ahead and build a production version of the car is all based on how well Suzuki perform in their first WRC season come 2008.
"We will assess our performance in the WRC, and decide from there if we are to do a road car. I think it is possible the car could be built in 2009 or 2010."
Suzuki are offcourse shying away from trying to directly compare themselves to the rally legends from Subaru and Mitsubishi. Instead Suzuki believes that the car will appeal to a much wider range of people than the WRX and EVO.
"Our aim is a little bit different from Subaru and Mitsubishi. Our aim is to produce a car that is easy to drive for everybody. Everybody should be able to enjoy sporty driving from this car."
Unfortunately, Suzuki seems to have forgotten that the standard WRX from Subaru is infact meant to be exactly as mr Ono puts it above, easy to drive for everybody. The STi model is the track car. Mitsubishi's long forgotten Lancer GSR used to fill that gap between the VRX and Evo back in the day.
The SX4 hatchback which the new rally car is based on was launched in Japan earlier this year, and if things go well, should arrive down under in feb 2007. The SX4 comes with a 2.0 Litre naturally aspirated engine whilst still coming with an electronically controlled AWD system. I am not 100% sure what the electronically controlled means and what difference it makes compared to the normal AWD systems from Subaru and Mitsubishi. Will try to find out more info on the SX4 soon.