Saturday, April 18, 2009

The heat is on: Maruti's 7th small car rolls out this May

Mumbai: Maruti will add a seventh small car to its portfolio this May.
The heat is on! Maruti Suzuki will add yet another small car to its range this summer and to add to the rising temperatures, the company decided to jet off to sweltering Malaysia to put together its commercial campaign for the new car. Back in India, the company was busy rolling out the first of its K12M engines that will power the new addition to its portfolio. In most countries it is called the Splash, but in India it will feature the Ritz moniker.
Based on the Swift platform, the Ritz is just 3.7 metres long. Designed to replace the Wagon-R in European markets, the Ritz is about 18 centimetres longer. The design of the car is in line with the current range of Suzukis and despite the tall boy approach, it looks less top heavy than the boxy Wagon-R. With the extra length, it has managed to liberate more interior room and this makes it a better environment to be in. Like always, there are bits and pieces of the Swift that can be found on the inside, but the overall quality is better than the Wagon-R.
With near similar underpinnings and the option of a petrol engine to begin with, the Maruti Ritz will take on the likes of the Hyundai i10 Kappa with its new K12M engine. This 1197cc four-cylinder uses a DOHC configuration just like the Kappa, but produces even more power. Rated at 84 bhp@6000 rpm, the power figure is just as impressive as the torque — at 11.4 kgm@4500 rpm. So how come Maruti have managed to pull it off? Well, they’ve adopted an all-aluminium engine with an innovative rocker-less DOHC camshaft, a distributorless ignition system, lighter pistons and nut-less conrods and a new silent timing chain to reduce NVH.
To assemble this marvel of an engine, Maruti Suzuki has localised most of the engine components to keep costs in check. This means when the engines roll out from Maruti’s Gurgaon drivetrain facility, they will be priced competitively enough to ensure the Ritz stays in the hunt of its competition. While the car is also available internationally with the 1.3-litre DDiS engine, we won’t get it for now, until Maruti can satisfy the demands of the Swift and Swift Dzire with its limited production capacity.
While Maruti is tight-lipped about prices just yet, we think it’ll be priced around the i10 Kappa, which puts it in the Rs 4.25 to 5.25 lakh range. Given its slightly larger dimensions and better interior room, it could be a probable winner in the Indian market when it rolls out in May. A sizzling battle for your wallets is in the offing.

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