Although it never gave up its local interest in the motorcycle or outboard motor segments of the market, Suzuki will again offer a range of passenger cars in SA. This comes with the full support of Suzuki Japan.
While it had for a while been sold under the GMSA umbrella, the Japanese manufacturer was unceremoniously unbundled from the group in 2003.
Well, Suzuki passenger cars are back in South Africa where the launch line-up includes a 1.5-litre Swift small hatchback and a 2.0-litre SX4 crossover SUV.
But there's more to come. Suzuki Auto SA divisional manager for sales and marketing Charl Timms assured Wheels24 that the company was here for the long run, and the line-up will be expanded to reflect this promise.
Locally, the line-up will be bolstered in September with the addition of Jimny small SUV and Grand Vitara fitted with a four-cylinder 2.4-litre and 3.2-litre V6.
From the middle of 2009, South Africa can also expect the arrival of a four-wheel drive derivative of the SX4 crossover SUV as well as an SX4 sedan.
Key, too, is the inclusion of the new global small car based on the A-Star concept that should be available in South Africa from the second half of 2009. This car will probably occupy a segment within the market catering to the buyer in the all-important sub-R100 000 category.
"It won't necessarily be the cheapest car in the country," Timms told Wheels24, "but it will be a good value package."
And the two Suzuki models currently on sale do appear to offer very competitive value. But added to the driving experience is also Suzuki's commitment to delivering a positive all-round experience.
Three-point aftersales policy
They certainly appear to have done they homework correctly. Divisional manager for aftersales (which includes parts and servicing) Roger van Dyck assured that he had instituted "a very simple three-point policy".
This states that no customer may be left stranded for a lack of service support or spare parts, Suzuki Auto SA has to be among the top five on CSI ratings by 2010 and dealers will be offered the required assistance to ensure the first two targets are met.
Suzuki's dealer network will include 15 dealers in the major centres by the end of this month, while an additional five will be added by September 2008. The company hopes to have a total of 35 dealers active in South Africa by 2012.
All dealers, who have already been subjected to comprehensive training for the range of vehicles available at launch, offer sales, servicing and spare parts.
A central parts warehouse in Johannesburg currently holds up to 95% of servicing and crash parts in the 26 000 m2 structure and promises a 24-hour turnaround time for parts in stock.
Parts on special order will need to be flown or shipped from Japan (where all models for South Africa are sourced), and that should take from 20 to 60 days - about the average time across the industry.
Dealers are also linked to a comprehensive intranet that includes access to sophisticated diagnostics tools.
Satellite tracking, AA roadside assistance
For added peace of mind, all vehicles are fitted with satellite tracking that merely requires activation by the new owner and roadside assistance provided by the AA.
Furthermore, all vehicles covered by Suzuki Auto SA are sold with a four-year/60 000 km service plan and a three-year/100 000 km bumper-to-bumper warranty.
And with the dedication shown by both South African and Japanese stakeholders, this importer has a lot to offer the local buyer where its solid track record and long-standing reputation will not go unnoticed.
And it aims to make an impact - 2 700 units are projected for the rest of 2008, while the company hopes to sell about 11 000 units per annum by 2012.
As for existing Suzuki owners, the new company has bought over parts stock that had been held by GMSA and from June 1 provides a comprehensive service to those customers.