I love seeing Suzukis driving around. Watching clean new Jimnys rolling through the streets always makes you remember that they’ve been doing this a while and that they were there before most everyone else. Those tough little 4x4s were and are light, maneuverable, and have consumer loyalty that many could only wish for. Those past successes brought them further into the world with models like the Vitara and the Grand Vitara and even the joyfully fun Swift. On our cover is the latest of their offerings, and it may well be a game-changer for the small SUV market. It provides utility and value and still a little quirkiness, but also with modern safety systems in place.
Another vehicle known for loyalty has arrived as well, also an SUV. The Honda CR-V has come in with seven seats and now, to much acclaim, the choice of gasoline or diesel. Both these vehicles have the ability to dominate their own little segments, whether defined by price or utility or height. The Vitara, for example, isn’t just looked at and compared to similarly-sized SUVs. It also has to compete with smaller sedans in people’s eyes because of the cost. Similarly, while the CR-V may be nothing like the more truck-based SUVs in terms of utility and comfort it may well eat into their market share because now Honda has put in the diesel option.
All this of course comes at a time when the entire industry is wondering how we are going to be taxed next year. While the most recent form of the excise tax looks more palatable than previous iterations, there is the question that many buyers pushed their purchases earlier than normal in order to avoid additional costs. This is true at many levels, whether you look at this as a way to save a little on the family workhorse or business transport, or whether you decide this may be your only chance to get the sports car of your dreams. Having said that, the sales volume increases haven’t been equal or across the board. You still see some drastic-looking sale pushes towards the end of the year. Which makes you think. In an environment where the consumer is primed to buy, what is causing this move away from certain brands? What are they seeing, what are we missing? We may we’ll be seeing the “flight to quality” you get in times of uncertainty. We shall see what happens when the next year rolls around.
Thanks for this latest year of support and interest and challenge. This magazine has always been a project of passion and enthusiasm and dedication, even if not always one of perfection. Some industry minds are calling this time the renaissance of the automobile. They see things as changing but also consolidating. They see more growth but also more flexibility. They see a more demanding consumer but they also see the tools with which they can meet those demands. We tend to agree. We can wax lyrical about the good old days, but the truth is that cars are better than ever for the most part. They may be more complicated but they are also far safer.
Again, and always, thank you for our wonderful ride.