Suzuki has ranked in the top 10 of the world's automakers, but its image as a preeminent motorcycle maker never translated into small cars. It struggled for years with a skimpy product line and an under-developed dealer network. Since peaking in 2007, Suzuki sales had fallen by 75%, and its small scale combined with the strong yen made its future prospects bleak. After a big push behind the mid-size Kizashi sedan flopped, its U.S. distributor filed for bankruptcy in November, and such distinctive models as the Samurai, Sidekick, and Swift disappeared into automotive history.
Some of these new cars are already scheduled for earlier-than-usual facelifts. The rest of them are already overdue.