Indian inspiration for SUV

Suzuki's R3 concept car.
Suzuki's R3 concept car. Drive

INDIA could offer buyers the first seven-seater SUV from Suzuki in years.

Maruti Suzuki's rIII concept points the way to a new compact soft-roader that could slot into it's parent company's lineup within a few years.

The first Indian designed and built seven-seater SUV, the rIII is due to be produced in India from early in 2012.

Maruti Suzuki's general manager of global marketing, Rajesh Singh, told Drive that the engineering for the car has already been completed, and that the car will only be available in right-hand-drive, making it a possibility for sale in Australia.

Singh also said the production car will be "very different to this [rIII concept]", suggesting some of the radical design will make way for everyday practicality.

But he said that the standards to which the Indian-built car will be produced may not reach those of Australia's Design Rules, and says there needs to be more pressure from Suzuki for the safety standards to be lifted in order to make the car a viable export opportunity.

"Australian safety standard is too high," he says. "The basic design has to be first Australian, then Indian."

He explained that the chassis and frame design differs from India to Australia due to the use of higher strength steel - which in turn makes the product between 25 and 30 per cent more expensive.

But Singh says there's still a chance the car could be built using the same platform but with standards of steel to suit the Australian market.

The production version of the rIII will be available with both 1.2-litre petrol and 1.3-litre turbo diesel engines. Like a lot of SUVs at the moment, the car will likely send its power to the front wheels only.

Sadly, the new five-door SUV isn't likely to feature those eye-catching and clever backward opening doors.

It's expected to debut at next year's Delhi auto show.

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