Maruti Future S compact SUV concept to make global debut at Auto Expo 2018
8th Jan 2018 10:57 am
New concept previews compact SUV to slot in below the Vitara Brezza; packaged for multiple powertrains (including electric); will be based on lightweight ‘Heartect’ platform
Maruti Suzuki has announced the global preview of an all-new concept car, christened the ‘Future S’, at the Auto Expo 2018. According to the company, the Future S is a fresh design language for a new compact car segment and ‘represents the next level of design evolution’.
The teaser sketches clearly reveal that the Future S, with its distinctive two-box silhouette, upright proportions and muscular haunches, is a compact SUV. More importantly, the Future S marks a breakaway from the conventional and ordinary shapes of Maruti’s bread-and-butter hatchbacks and is a pointed move by India’s largest carmaker into the lower end of the SUV segment. The increasing preference for SUVs as a body style across the spectrum of the market is driving this new design direction.
The Future S will be positioned below the hugely popular Vitara Brezza as Maruti wants to enjoy the same success in a lower segment. “That’s where we feel the market is evolving” says C.V Raman, Sr. Executive Director (Engineering) of Maruti Suzuki. “But, we have to see how much lower we can go below the Brezza, and this is something we are experimenting with in terms of proportions and design. But, it’s always a challenge to do this in the compact segment” he adds.
It isn’t easy designing a compact SUV because the shape can go awry when you try to squeeze in all requirements into a sub-4 metre length. And that job gets more difficult when the length further shrinks – the Future S is over 200mm shorter than the Vitara Brezza. “Trying to get high seating, good legroom, good visibility while balancing the proportions is quite tough but we feel we’ve managed to achieve this” says Raman.
The Future S has a high bonnet line, near-vertical A-pillars and design cues that make it a more of a traditional SUV than a crossover. It’s a template that has worked with the universally-liked Vitara Brezza, and should appeal to the wide customer base Maruti has in mind for the production version of the Future S, which, according to sources, could enter showrooms later this year or in early 2019. “We always look at large volumes and want to be the leaders in whatever segments we get into” says Raman.
Production versions of the Future S will be built on Suzuki’s lightweight ‘Heartect’ platform, while engine options are likely to include the brilliant K-series 1.2-litre petrol with some form of electrification, and a future 1.5-litre diesel developed in-house.
The compact SUV segment below the Vitara Brezza is relatively untapped with little competition at the moment. The Mahindra KUV100 NXT, with its oddball crossover design, hasn’t gone down well and Maruti’s very own Ignis, a quasi- crossover, is also too quirky for most. The fact is that crossovers don’t have the same appeal as a pukka SUV – the lukewarm response to the Maruti S-Cross and Renault Captur, is a case in point.
Maruti hopes to get it right when the Future S goes into production and will be taking feedback on the concept from visitors at the Auto Expo. “It’s important to understand customer needs and know what he’s thinking and do a proper research going forward” says Raman.
After dominating the passenger car market, Maruti now has ambitions to conquer the SUV space as well.