Pak Suzuki with the launch of the much anticipated Ciaz sedan has marked their comeback in the compact sedan segment. Unlike the awfully unsuccessful Liana which Pak Suzuki launched during the previous decade, the Ciaz is a successful product in international markets and does have the potential to become a success story here.
The Suzuki Ciaz
In 2014, the Ciaz was launched as a replacement of the SX4 sedan in Asian and Latin American markets, in China it is known as Alivio. The Ciaz has been a very successful vehicle in every market where it has been offered, in India it has created real problems for its rivals, particularly the Honda City. The car offers decent looks, spacious cabin, ample luggage space and good fuel consumption, all of which combine to make the Ciaz a very attractive package for the consumers.
Pak Suzuki Ciaz- The Excitement
The Ciaz has been a much anticipated vehicle for Pakistan’s automobile market. Although the car was first seen at the Karachi port in December 2016, automobile portals of the country were insisting Pak Suzuki since ages to introduce the Ciaz in Pakistan, and finally it’s here.
The Ciaz comes equipped with a 1.4 liter VVT engine mated to a either a 5-speed manual or a 4-speed automatic gearbox. The claimed fuel economy is 12km/liter within city while on highways one may yield up to 19km/liter.
The car upon physical inspection was found to be quite well built. Being imported, the quality was without any doubt way better than any locally produced car, and that speaks a lot about the standards of locally built machines. Unlike most of the Corolla models, including the top of the line Altis Grande, there were no misaligned taillights despite the presence of two-part rear combination lamps. While the fit & finish of the interior was like 200 times better than what was experienced last year at the launch of locally assembled Honda Civic worth PKR 3.0 million.
It is the first time that a Suzuki sedan in Pakistan is offered with 2 airbags. In addition the Ciaz also comes equipped with security alarm, keyless entry with answerback function, immobilizer, ABD with EBD and front & rear seatbelts.
The road presence is very good and the car stands out from the rest of the crowd. The tires installed on the vehicles are Bridgestone Ecopia 185/65/R15. All the Ciaz units will be imported from Thailand as CBU which means you can expect to have a better quality vehicle till Pak Suzuki plans to assemble one locally. According to Azam Mirza, General Manager PSMC, it may take up to 3 years to assemble this car locally. Pak Suzuki is offering a 3 year/ 60,000km warranty which makes it even more attractive.
Pak Suzuki Ciaz- The Disappointment
Now let’s have a look at the other side of picture. The Ciaz is priced at PKR 16.99 lac for the manual and PKR 18.39 lac for the automatic version. There are no multiple trims available which means that apart from the transmission there is absolutely no difference in terms of specs & features between auto & manual. While the price itself is on a higher side, the PKR 1.4 lac difference only because of an automatic transmission doesn’t seem justified.
Then comes the missing features, as indicated earlier the Ciaz which is built in Thailand to be exclusively exported to Pakistan, misses out an array of features found in international models. There is no climate control, no automatic a/c, no auto day/night rear view mirror, no embedded indicators on side mirrors, no controls on steering wheel, no in-dash screen, no back camera, no parking sensors, no sunroof, no alloy rims etc. Even there is no vanity mirror offered with the sun visors.
The primitive looking instrument panel seems to be the one specifically made to be slapped on Pakistani consumers. Even the Sri Lankan and Bangladeshi Ciaz models offer a much better interior, and features compared to what is being offered to Pakistani consumers. Other elements such as the carpet floor mats & fog lights etc are not included with the standard car and are priced separately. The Ciaz in Pakistan is being offered with 5 colors unlike 8 offered in other markets.
Although on social media there is quite a debate about the price tag being high, but you cannot really complain when even under-spec vehicles without any airbag/ ABS and other safety features are already sold in huge numbers in our market. During my visit at Suzuki IG Motors located at Main Shahra-e-Pakistan, the Ciaz was already able to get buyers ready to get instant deliveries.
Upon asking a buyer who just bought an automatic Ciaz in Dignity Brown Metallic color, as to what made him buy the car and his spontaneous reply was “Gaari Baree Hai” (The Car is Big). After a moment of pause he added “Imported hay tou zahir hai local gaari se behtar hi hogi” (It’s imported so obviously is going to be better than the local ones).
The IG Motors was giving instant deliveries on full payment, as there is currently no waiting period and the way people are ready to buy the car, it seems as if the Ciaz has already made its place in the market. We have seen this in the case of 10th generation Honda Civic launch last year, when people on social media were complaining about the exorbitant price tag, shabby quality and lack of available features compared to the international market, still the new Civic has become immensely popular and has taken the profit margins of the company to new levels.
The Ciaz will also become successful since people are least concerned as to what they are getting against the money being paid. For them it doesn’t really matter what has been taken away as long as the vehicle is new & shiny!
In international markets, the Ciaz is meant to compete against the 6th generation City and since Atlas Honda is still dragging the 5th generation City in Pakistan, the Ciaz may have a higher chance creating problems for the Honda rival. The presence of Ciaz may also push Atlas to introduce the 6th generation Honda City, the car which was launched elsewhere in 2013.
Overall the Suzuki Ciaz is a breath of fresh air in the compact sedan segment since it was more like a coin with two faces, namely Corolla & City. By the looks of it, it’s Pak Suzuki’s turn to cash the Ciaz before we have more competition in this segment in coming years.