Maruti Suzuki is reportedly working on a compact SUV for the Indian market. To be based on its Baleno hatchback, the new product will sit in a segment that is both coveted as well as competitive with a lot of buyer interest.
According to a report in Mint quoting sources, the new model is codenamed YTB and may be designed as either a coupe or a mini crossover. With the XL6 based on Ertiga, the formula of putting a newer product with an existing model as its base is a strategy that could once again work in the favour of the country's largest car maker.
Maruti currently has a rather weak SUV product profile with the Vitara Brezza facing heat from the likes of Hyundai Venue, Kia Sonet, Tata Nexon and Mahindra XUV300. The growing demand for SUVs of all shapes and sizes may be a driving force for Maruti to expand its large(er) car portfolio.
2020 has been a phenomennal year for sub-compact and compact SUVs with the launch of Kia Sonet, Nissan Magnite and Toyota Urban Cruiser - based on Brezza, in the former segment while Creta received a major update in the latter.
While the Creta has been the undisputed leader in the compact SUV segment since its first launch several years back, the 2020 Creta too has raked in numbers. Seltos from Kia has been another huge success and while it was the debut product from the Koreans back in August of 2019, has propeled it to among the top and key playersin the Indian car market.
Maruti's undisputed dominance over the years, however, has been primarily powered by its small cars that offer impressive mileage, are affordable and are now being packed with creature and safety features too. The XL6 and Ertiga also fare reasonably well in the MPV segment but there isn't anything to show in the compact SUV segment. It is possible that with the Baleno-based offering, Maruti manages to not just challenge but bring down the dominance of the Koreans.
That the next SUV could be based on Baleno could also work in Maruti's favour because the hatchback is a strong player in its segment and is put up as a premium offering by the company through its Nexa chain. Either way, a new SUV could well be a big shot in the arm for Maruti as it reportedly plans to take on the new year with a whole lot of vigour.