Maruti Suzuki India today launched the much-awaited Ciaz sedan in India at an introductory price of Rs 6.99 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) for the petrol model and Rs 8.04 lakh for the diesel. First shown as a concept at the Auto Expo earlier this year, the premium Ciaz is Maruti's fresh attempt at entering the midsize sedan segment after a short, not very successful stint with the Baleno and SX4.
The new Ciaz is one of the most upmarket offerings from Maruti yet. It is powered by a 91bhp 1.4-litre (1373cc) petrol or an 89bhp 1.3-litre (1248cc) Fiat-sourced diesel. Both engines are borrowed from the Ertiga, but the carmaker claims to have tuned them for improved responsiveness and drivability. The petrol engine is coupled to a five-speed manual gearbox or a four-speed automatic while the diesel gets a five-speed manual gearbox only.
Size-wise, the Ciaz is 4490mm long, 1730mm wide, 1485mm tall, has a wheelbase of 2650mm and weight ranging from 1,010kg to 1,120kg
Maruti is offering four trims on the new Ciaz – V, V+, Z, Z+ – and has packed it with equipment, with top trims getting front airbags, a touchscreen infotainment system, rearview camera, leather upholstery, keyless entry and go and rear sunshade, among other features.
The new Maruti Ciaz will rival the likes of the Honda City, Volkswagen Vento, Skoda Rapid and Hyundai Verna in the crowded midsizer market.
According to Kenichi Ayukawa, managing director and CEO, the Ciaz has already received 10,000 bookings and deliveries will start immediately. Of this, about 60 percent demand is for the diesel variant and the balance 40 percent for the petrol version. In line with the focus on diesel, Ayukawa told Autocar Professional on the sidelines of the launch that the company will be developing a 1.5-litre diesel engine for its forthcoming models but did not confirm whether it would power the new upcoming SUVs from the company.
The Ciaz, which has a localisation level of 98 percent at present, sees imports of some electronic equipment like sensors. Ayukawa said the company is looking at sales of 60,000 to 80,000 units of the Ciaz in the first year. “We have enough capacity to meet the demand.” Production of the Ciaz commenced a couple of months ago at Maruti’s Manesar facility to ensure adequate stocks to meet the surge in demand especially during the festive season when sales see an uptick for new models.
“The Ciaz has been designed keeping in mind aspirations of a midsize premium sedan customer. The Ciaz offers European styling, premium rich interiors and a host of upmarket features. The Ciaz diesel is India’s most fuel efficient car. The designers have paid special attention to ensure space, comfort and convenience for rear seat occupants as well,” added Ayukawa.
Maruti says the Ciaz has been built on Suzuki’s Total Effective Control Technology (TECT) for safety. The high tensile steel deployed across the body panels and the wide wheelbase makes it stronger and increases the stability of the car while negotiating tough corners. Maruti Suzuki is targeting the market leader’s position in the A3 plus segment where the Ciaz has been positioned with a good product and a strong dealer network.
The carmaker, along with around 150-200 of its component suppliers, has invested Rs 620 crore in the Ciaz project. While the car was developed by Suzuki in Japan, MSIL has contributed towards the market research and consumer feedback including design inputs.
R S Kalsi, who has recently taken over as head of domestic marketing and sales, said that Maruti is expecting a positive response to the Ciaz during the festive season and a 10 percent improvement in sales over retail sales.
Target customer are executives in the 30-40 year age group with Maruti adopting a 360-degree approach towards marketing, roping in all mediums including digital to spread the awareness about the new sedan.
Training of staff at dealerships has similarly formed an important pillar of its marketing strategy and Kalsi explained that customers will require different type of handling. About 1,000 sales executives have been recruited for the purpose and a 5-day residential training imparted to them. This involves training in both soft and hard skills for presenting the product to customers and communicating with them.
In rural India, which contributes about 32 percent of Maruti’s total sales, a contingent of 9,500 sales executives with specific local expertise and knowledge are already involved in sales activities for the entire product portfolio of Maruti.
The carmaker has also harnessed mobile vans for spreading the message about its models in the rural areas but Kalsi expects Tier 1 and Tier 2 markets to drive demand for the Ciaz.
The Ciaz export plan
Meanwhile, exports of the Ciaz are to start from November 2014 initially to the Middle East, Latin American and African markets. Some European countries including Russia will also be targeted. It is also scheduled to be launched in China under the ‘Alivio’ name by the end of the year. Chongqing Changan Suzuki Automobile Co, Suzuki’s joint venture in China, will start production for sales in China this year.
Maruti Ciaz petrol manual prices
Maruti Ciaz Vxi: Rs 6.99 lakh
Maruti Ciaz Vxi+: Rs 7.55 lakh
Maruti Ciaz Zxi: Rs 8.24 lakh
Maruti Ciaz Zxi+: Rs 8.59 lakh
Maruti Ciaz Petrol automatic prices
Maruti Ciaz Vxi+ AT: Rs 8.65 lakh
Maruti Ciaz Zxi AT: Rs 9.34 lakh
Maruti Ciaz Diesel prices
Maruti Ciaz Vdi: Rs 8.04 lakh
Maruti Ciaz Vdi+: Rs 8.63 lakh
Maruti Ciaz Zdi: Rs 9.45 lakh
Maruti Ciaz Zdi+: Rs 9.8 lakh
(ex-showroom Delhi prices)
Photograph (L-R): Kenichi Ayukawa, MD, Maruti Suzuki India, with R S Kalsi, executive director (marketing & Sales) , at the launch of the Ciaz in New Delhi today.