Green light for wacky Suzuki iM-4 crossover

Suzuki bosses have given the quirky iM-4 mini crossover the green light for production. It’ll arrive in 2018 with a starting price of around £11,000 with two- or four-wheel drive, and will be powered by a range of naturally aspirated and new turbocharged petrol engines.

Revealed at this year’s Geneva Motor Show, the iM-4 will partner Suzuki’s new Celerio city car at the bottom end of its model line-up. It’ll be an a-segment crossover with the only real competition coming from the Fiat Panda 4×4.

The dinky crossover will be a new addition to Suzuki’s growing range, and not a replacement for its ageing Jimmy off-roader – as widely speculated – despite it being just 2mm longer. The current Jimny (which has been on sale since 1998 and sells around 1,000 units a year in Britain) will soldier until at least 2018, before being replaced by a new car showcasing a different look but relying on a no-nonsense, mud-plugging cocktail of a ladder chassis and permanent four-wheel drive.

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A source told Auto Express the iM-4 is almost production ready and said that there will be very few changes to the Geneva concept car’s styling. The car is designed to bear little resemblance to other cars in Suzuki’s range, instead looking backwards to Suzuki’s heritage. There are clear styling cues to the Suzuki SC 100 ‘Whizzkid’ Coupe of the 1970s, but in a pumped-up crossover package.

Under the bonnet will be Suzuki’s fuel-sipping 1.2-litre Dualjet petrol engine as recently revealed in the Swift, and a brand new 1.0-litre turbocharged ‘Boosterjet’ petrol. Suzuki hasn’t ruled out offering mild and full hybrid power, either.

New Swift and Swift Sport in 2017

Until then, Suzuki will be working on introducing a new Swift and Swift Sport for 2017. The Swift will keep the current car’s dimensions but will be considerably lighter than the current car, while the Swift Sport will get a 10-15bhp power hike. Just like the current Sport, the new car will be positioned as value-for-money warm hatch and not as a Ford Fiesta ST-baiting hot hatch. Feedback from Suzuki UK to bosses in Japan said British buyers like the car’s current package and price, and just a small power increase would be desirable. Britain’s is one of the Swift Sport’s largest markets worldwide with Brits buying around 1,200 cars a year.

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The iM-4 isn’t the only Geneva show car to get the nod from bosses, though. The iK-2 hatchback has also got the go ahead and will be revealed in January 2016. Slightly larger than the Swift, it aims to address all the problems prospective buyers complain about the current Swift – namely lack of rear leg and boot space. It’ll also use the 1.2-litre Dualjet and possibly a 1.2-litre version of the Boosterjet set to appear in the iX-4 crossover.  

As previously revealed to Auto Express, Suzuki seeks to bolster its current model range by six models over the next three to four years. It aims to do this with three ‘rational’ and three ‘emotional’ cars – the iM-4 will be the emotional version of the Celerio city car, for example, while the iK-2 will be the rational version of the Swift.

Now find out about our top 10 best hot hatchbacks…

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