Suzuki have been spotted testing their new Fiat Panda rival out and about, which could go on sale as early as 2017.
The new hatchback is based on Suzuki’s bold iM-4 concept car, which was on display at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show. We heard Suzuki had green lighted the project but perhaps a lot earlier than we expected, as these photos show the car looks to have been in development for quite some time. It was previously expected to arrive in 2018 wearing an £11,000 price tag, but after seeing it on the road yesterday it could be put into production within 18 months.
If you compare these photos to the iM-4 concept car, the alloy wheels have reduced in diameter, the side mirrors have been redesigned, the door handles are more conventional and the headlights themselves appear to be temporary items. The iM-4 had full LED headlights, but we may not see those on the final design due to the car being marketed at the budget end of the automotive spectrum.
Pop the bonnet on the final production version and we should find Suzuki’s fuel efficient 1.2L dualjet petrol engine, which itself was recently introduced in the Swift. The iM-4 will also most likely receive the slightly smaller turbocharged 1.0L ‘Boosterjet’ petrol engine. Suzuki hasn’t ruled out offering mild and full hybrid power, either.
The production version iM-4 will be at the bottom end of Suzuki’s product lineup, and should be available with the option of either front-wheel drive or four-wheel drive to take on the mighty Fiat Panda 4×4. Rumours are also circulating that Suzuki could bring back the ‘Ignis’ badge, although no official confirmation has been given.
All manufacturers who test their prototypes like this need to take a leaf out of Jag’s book and dress their cars as a transit van. That’s how Jag tested the XJ220 and kept it from prying eyes, funnily enough the van version was lighter than the final car but less aerodynamic. The TG guys used it in the drag race against the Aussies.