Owing to the satisfactory commercial performance of its tried and tested models, Suzuki has remained considerably dormant for a sizable chunk of the last decade. Skip to the moment, Pak Suzuki finally seems keen to shift gears and revamp its image with a series of new launches.
In a bid to shed stereotypes attached to its brand image in Pakistan, Suzuki initially kicked off with the introduction of two completely new nameplates in the form of Vitara in December 2016 and Ciaz earlier this year.
While Ciaz and Vitara were introduced to slightly steeper price segments, Suzuki is now gradually meandering its way to update its more pocket-friendly options that have been the hallmark of its success in Pakistan.
Speaking of which, Pak Suzuki has recently released a teaser video which points to the launch of an all new Cultus on April 22, 2017. While its former two launches had laid the groundwork for a more ‘premium’ brand image, a completely revamped Cultus sights to a new beginning for the aging nameplates offered by Suzuki in Pakistan which are currently present in the entry-level price segment.
The legacy of Suzuki Cultus
There is no denying that Cultus, which succeeded the famous Khyber back in the year 2000, has been the go-to car for emerging households of the country. It offers ample space for five passengers in the cabin and a decent cargo storage, while maintaining a hospitable price point and a trunk-less form factor. Cultus is a nameplate that carries a baggage of consumer love and preference as it enjoys a place in the Goldilocks price point, slotting right in between the sparsely equipped Kei cars and not too affordable entry-level sedans.
Cultus, for over a decade, has been the car for just about anyone who looked for an affordable practical car and didn’t mind compromising on a trunk. Simply put, Cultus has been the hatchback for the millennials until the end of the first decade of this century, a period which marked the interception of used Japanese Kei cars and subcompact hatchbacks in our market. It’s the period which apparently shook Cultus’ stature as the go-to hatchback of the country.
But the reason why I called it an apparent change is because commercially, Cultus continued to show promising growth as Suzuki were able to sell more Cultus in the last three months of its production than they were able to sell a year before. However, despite its commercial success, up against the more capable Japanese imports, Cultus was now being perceived as an ageing car with a fulfilling history but a not-so-promising future. We stepped into 2014 with Suzuki launching Wagon R in Pakistan, ultimately signalling the last call for Cultus.
The new Cultus - reborn and rebranded
Now as we inch closer to the reveal of a car that would replace a 17-year-old heart-throb of our market, here is what lies ahead of Celerio in Pakistan.
Celerio, yes it’s not a typo. Essentially the new Cultus will be a localised Suzuki Celerio, rebranded to rejuvenate an aging nameplate of Pak Suzuki. As I mentioned earlier, despite the satisfactory sales figures, Cultus lacked the 21st-century punch which was the USP of Japanese imports who were tapping into the hatchback market of Pakistan. The updated Cultus, on the other hand, looks keen to address the needs of the modern consumer.
Starting off with safety features, Cultus will reportedly come with an option of dual airbags and ABS brakes, which will be a first for Pakistan’s local industry inside that price point.
Size and looks
Moving on, amidst the speculation, the size of the to-be-launched Cultus has received its share of scepticism as some accuse it of being smaller than the car it replaces. A quick tour of Celerio’s spec sheet reveals that the new Cultus would, in fact, have a smaller footprint than the car it precedes.
However, despite being a whopping 245mm shorter than its predecessor, Cultus does not give much away in the departments that matter, as not only would it be 25mm wider than the previous Cultus, but it would also have a 60mm longer wheelbase. This guarantees the sustenance of Cultus’ widely acclaimed cabin space, while at the same time ensuring easy maneuverability in civic areas thanks to its shorter overall length.
For those who argue that rebranding Celerio as Cultus in Pakistan is nothing more than Pak Suzuki’s attempt to play a nostalgia card, need to pay some heat to the fact that Cultus is a nameplate that deserves to live on due to its progeny and stereotypical connection to Pakistani market and what’s better than having its successor branded as is exclusively for our market.
To sum up, the new Cultus looks like a step in the right direction for Pak Suzuki as it aspires to curb out the influence of Japanese imports in Pakistan in a similar fashion it did with a localized Wagon R in our market. And if numbers sent out by Pakistan Automotive Manufacturers Association (PAMA) about Suzuki Wagon R’s sales are to be believed, then Cultus for sure looks well on its way to increase Pak Suzuki’s foothold in the lower end of the market.
This content has been independently produced by the writer and Dawn.com. Pak Suzuki has paid for association with the content.