After its regional debut at the Bangkok motor show earlier in March, the Suzuki Ciaz has finally gone on sale in Thailand, competing against the Nissan Almera and Mitsubishi Attrage.
Seen here are images courtesy of our sister-publication AutoSpinn.com
The Ciaz measures 4,490 mm long, 1,730 mm wide and 1,475 mm high, making it the biggest model in its class. It is both longer and wider than the City, Vios, Almera and Attrage.
To comply with Thailand’s eco-car regulations (which offers a lower excise duty rate – 17 percent versus 30 percent for a regular car below 2,000cc), the Ciaz is powered by a tiny 1.25-litre petrol engine, paired to either a five-speed manual transmission or a CVT automatic.
Prices range from THB 484,000 to THB 625,000.
In comparison the Nissan Almera – which has a different, smaller 1.2-litre engine from our 1.5-litre Malaysian-market Almeras – costs between THB 437,000 to THB 612,000. The slightly smaller body size 1.2-litre Mitsubishi Attrage sells for between THB 449,000 to THB 589,000.
The highest specifications Ciaz GLX CVT comes equipped with keyless entry with engine push-start button, 6-speaker audio system with Bluetooth handsfree steering wheel-mounted control buttons, ABS with EBD, and dual front airbags.
Will This Be The Next Proton Saga?
Maybe, but it is going to be a challenge convincing Malaysians that the Suzuki’s tiny 91 hp, 118 Nm, 1.25-litre engine is better than the current Proton Saga’s 1.3-litre, 94 hp and 120 Nm CamPro engine.
Despite the general downsizing trend worldwide, Malaysians still choose their cars based on engine capacity and the minimum size expected for a vehicle in this class is 1.3-litre.
Our long network of highways also meant that Malaysian drivers place greater emphasis on performance than their Thai counterparts.
There's also a 1.6-litre petrol engine option but at the moment, this specifications is only available for the China market Ciaz.
In any case, Proton and Suzuki has confirmed that the first result of their collaboration will be a compact model, due August 2016 with Proton implying that the model is aimed at Perodua’s range of hatchbacks, making the Suzuki Celerio the most likely candidate.
Beyond that, nothing has been confirmed. Any further model collaboration between Proton and Suzuki is still subject to evaluation by their respective boards.
The Proton Saga (BLM) was launched in January 2008, and was facelifted in 2010 (Saga FL) and 2011 (Saga FLX). This is the Saga’s seventh year on the market and replacement model is long overdue.
As part of the requirements to qualify for Thailand's Eco-Car Phase incentive, Suzuki is obligated to manufacture 100,000 units of the Ciaz by its fourth year of production. That's quite a tall order and exports to other markets is definitely required. Globally, there is a very small market for Vios/City class B-segment sedans like the Ciaz. Such cars are mostly sold in developing Asia - India, China and ASEAN, while a small number is sold to car rental agencies in Eastern Europe and Australia.
Exports to India and China are ruled out as both countries are already producing the Ciaz for their respective domestic markets. Within ASEAN's Big 3 (Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia), Malaysia is the largest market outside of Thailand for such cars as Indonesia is dominated by MPVs.
One way or another, the Ciaz needs Malaysia to meet its production targets. The question is whether will it be exported to here as a CBU like the Mitsubishi Attrage or assembled under license by Proton.