Officially Official: Honda Freed Is Coming NEXT WEEK!

Oh my… What a delightful turn of event this is… It seems that I mistakenly translate trimester with semester. Last night in a closed session, Honda Indonesia finally unveils its intention to sell Honda Freed in Indonesia and the official launching of the car will be held on 11th of March, next week! Wow! This is actually happening, Indonesia will be the first ASEAN country to sell the Freed… Wait… Actually, if you want to put more emphasis on that, Indonesia will be the first country in the world to produce and sell Freed outside of Japan.

Honda Indonesia is very bold, very very bold if I might add… The Freed target market in Indonesia is already saturated with Daihatsu Xenia and its clone, Toyota Avanza. Then the venerable challenger Nissan Grand Livina. Not counting Suzuki APV and the soon to be released Daihatsu Luxio. But should Honda be afraid? Not really… We are talking Honda here! Where engineers are part magician and voodoo doctors.

The Freed first of all, is a front wheel driven, front engine minivan where its competitors are more or less a crossover between two cars sans the Grand Livina. The Xenia/Avanza is a crossover between MPV and SUV, high ground clearance with front engine, rear wheel driven setup. The Suzuki APV and Daihatsu Luxio origins are semi pick up truck with engine underneath driver seat driving the rear wheel. This doesn’t mean a thing, but when you start to add up the fact that FF cars like the Freed and Grand Livina have ample interior room thanks to the lack of driveshaft running from the front of the car to the back… Then it start to makes sense.

The Freed main competitor will be Nissan Grand Livina with its similar FF drivetrain setup. Size wise, although the Freed is shorter compared to Grand Livina, it has longer wheelbase and is taller, these facts should lead to the Freed having more ample interior room than the Grand Livina… Although it remain to be seen.

The last sentence leaves a lot to be desired, and I smell a comparison is coming! Comeback soon, I’ll prepare a paper comparison between Freed competitors in Indonesia… And to some extent, the ASEAN.

Honda CEO 2008 Year End Speech… The Interesting Stuff

Okay, 2008 is closing, and even though Honda posts record breaking profit by the middle of 2008, September came and hell along with the winter autumn breeze. Why hell? Hell… Everything plummet since September, everything that went up suddenly dropping like it was, I dunno, want to crack some joke but I think it’s futile anyway. Anyway…

When somebody wrote “The situation is worsening every day in all regions.” in their publicized company report… Then, probably it is. For 2009, Honda forecasts a drop in automobile and power equipment demands, but cited an increase in motorcycle demand. Well, it is given, when you can’t afford a car, you will buy a motorcycle (if you live in SE Asia).

“Unit sales forecasts are: motorcycles; 10.3 million units (+10.5%), automobiles; 3.65 million units (-7%), power products; 5.185 million units (-14.4%).”

The forecasts seems… Rather safe and heart lightening, however, when we look at the direction Honda is taking, I’m not so sure anymore. “

“• Toward this end, Honda will closely monitor the marketplace and then carefully determine what actions need to be taken. Once decisions are made, Honda will take quick action as the company realizes the situation is very urgent and a slight delay in making management decisions could be critical.

• Based on this understanding of the situation, bonuses for directors, corporate auditors and operating officers will be reassessed based on the business results of the current fiscal year ending March 31, 2009. In addition, monthly remuneration of directors, corporate auditors and operating officers will be cut by 10% for all directors starting January 2009.” Things are tough when the higher ups bonuses are reassessed based on the business results.”

Tough, because if the situation doesn’t improve, it’s up to the higher ups effort to maintain their bonuses, and in this uncertain economy condition… Well it’s safe to assume that Honda just want to cut its spending.

Okay, so enough of the preliminary, let’s just cut into the meaty part. So…

The darker side…

  • Honda is canceling the NSX project, along with it, the V10 and V8 engine destined to go to Acura.
  • As such, Acura launch in Japan is postponed.
  • So does medium to large diesel engines.
  • Not to mention quitting F1 and AMA.

The lighter side…

  • Honda will concentrate on small sized cars as forecasted will be the top selling model of 2009. Meaning no more waiting for the Fit on the dealers!
  • Hybrids are go, CR-Z is confirmed for 2010, and Insight V2 will be available early next year.
  • Focusing on small cars, Honda will introduce small size diesels and an unnamed small car positioned below the Fit/Jazz.
  • Honda will make available full electric scooter in 2 years time.

The Acura homeward bound cancellation is quite a shocker… But considering that it will take much more effort of time and money to introduce and maintain two separate brand, Honda best bet is just to keep Acura where it already established its business. When things are better, you can be sure Honda is going to take Acura home!

The NSX cancellation means a lot for everybody, Honda own NSX that races in SuperGT needs replacement badly… It’s the only naturally aspirated small block V6 on the grid. Fighting with the likes of large bore V8s of Toyota and super turbos of Nissan makes an easy opponent of Honda… Although the NSX is giving Toyota and Nissan a run for their money. NSX might not dominates anymore, but the extra decade old NSX still slots in on the top 5 at SuperGT… And sometimes manage a podium finish, not bad at all.

The V8 that is planned to go to Acura is another question mark. I would say Honda already have a blueprint for the engine, but just doesn’t want to produce it in quantity. Remembering the fact that new technology = retooling cost, and cost is the keyword that everybody is trying to avoid next year. Oh well, in the coming tough times, it’s good enough that people still buys a car.

One of the biggest interesting aspect of the year end report speech is the introduction of an unnamed small car that will be positioned below the Fit/Jazz. Is it the Life? Or better yet, Zest Spark? If it is, why wait 3 years? 3 years is quite a long time, the global economy slowdown might as well be relieved by then… Well, or perhaps Honda is waiting for its Chinese-partnership to bear fruits? The Li-Nian concept car is mighty fine… I wouldn’t mind driving a Chinese made Honda.

The all new Honda Zest Spark… Not released yet

All in all, Honda is bracing for a tougher times ahead, and there nothing to better close this post than taking it directly from the big man himself…

“Honda is a company driven to achieve continuous growth by the dreams and passions of each Honda associate. Especially when the company faces difficult times, each associate will maintain a high level of initiative and continue challenging.”

We will always challenge the future Fukui-san, we will always.


Official Honda CEO year end speech

Honda City: The New Heights of Excellence… Err… Pricing

Money burnt City
Have money to burn? Buy a City

Okay, so the new Honda City is out in Indonesia… Err… I wanted to pun about the new City is running around in the cities, but apparently it will not be the case for the longest time. As some has noticed (and taken it badly), the new City is priced at ridiculously-catastrophically-wallet-busting-high, towering more than 20% over its competitors, namely Toyota Vios, Suzuki SX4 Sedan (lovingly named Baleno locally), Chevrolet Kalos… And well, basically every small sedan out there.

The beard on fire joke maybe is overrated, but imagine this… A lot of people already pay a down payment for something that even doesn’t have a price! Now… Let’s think about it first…. Argh, just read through my silly writings. Witty comments in 3… 2… 1!

The new Honda City is officially priced starting from Rp. 239 million for manual version and as high as Rp. 260 million. Well, for the folks living stateside, the car costs a whopping US$20000 and topping US$23000 (current exchange rate) for the loaded version. Now why is everybody running around like they caught their beard on fire? Well, as most Asians, Indonesians are suckers for everything new (a.k.a. super early adopters)… That is, there are a lot of people who already pay the down payment for the new City even when they didn’t know the price… Now if that’s not a stereotype joke, I don’t know what is… Of course, much of Honda sales guys didn’t know about the price either as they really didn’t know even what the City would look like, so the silliness ensues.

People are targeting that even with Honda premium status, a new car will not be priced outside the “10% boundary” pricing wise against its competitors, or namely, the Vios here, as the reigning champion of small sedan. So, people expect the price at logically Rp. 210-220 million, as compared to Toyota Vios’s Rp. 201 million (fully equipped)… And you know what, the City is priced starting at 230 million. Still, it’s a little bit more or less on the target, but considering that the Rp. 201 million Vios is fully equipped, it’s starting to get hot in the competition, and in the people who pay for the down payment of the new City’s wallet.

People are accusing Honda Indonesia taking advantage of their “rising premium” status and jacking the price of the new City sky high. Well, perhaps those people are the one broken hearted as they couldn’t afford the new City, or just plainly uneducated… Bar none… I myself, is totally awestruck by the exponentially increased price… How? Why? But carefully thinking about it, it’s just too clear and easy actually, even my Honda crazier little nephew knows about it.

So why? Why indeed… Like my little nephew point to me, the new City looks like a totally new car… This is coming from a kid who said the last City and Baleno (Aerio Sedan) looked like a Jazz with ass and Aerio with ass… Really! He said that! A car with ass! Making sense of it all, the last generation City looks like the last generation Jazzz, with a trunk, a hatch with trunk, complete with gaudy rear end and questionable aerodynamics. Well, folks… BECAUSE IT IS! Last generation City took everything the Jazz/Fit is good for and added a trunk. The City’s front bonnet is sloped steep like the Jazz (from here on end, I will refer the Jazz to the Fit), making it look like, well, Jazz with less curve from the side profile… And with ass… I mean trunk. More over… The interior of the City looks exactly like Jazz! Once, I borrowed a friend’s City, as my prior car was the Jazz, I felt no difference at all between driving the old City and the old Jazz, and to put some insult… I almost rear end the car when backing up, because I swear, I thought I was driving a Jazz… You know, the car I had, has no ass… I mean trunk…

The origin of Jazz with ass comment... Straight from Honda

The original design for last generation Honda City… Short nose and long trunk…

Well, there’s no problem there in utility or cabin space. The last generation City is a haven to sit into, huge cabin space, tall, roomy, well, put every good spacious comments here and you have the last generation City. But all that goodness translates into something of an oddity. The tall cabin = tall car… A lanky design for a sedan… Why is it lanky again? Because the last generation City shares exactly the same A pillar from the last generation Jazz, the same tall A pillar that gives Jazz that small MPV looks… No wonder even a kid called it a Jazz with ass. Subjectively… The general public dish out on the last generation City styling, especially compared to the City 2 generation before (still heralded as the most beautiful City design).

So why the last generation City looked like a Jazz with ass? Well, this is called, platform sharing, the same as other Japanese automakers are famous for. The same as Civic is sharing its platform with CR-V, or Toyota Camry sharing its platform with Harrier/Lexus RX. However, it’s just too obvious and in ASEAN where the City is sold, sales are lackluster, because it just looks like a hatch with trunk. Honda even went the extra mile by (reportedly) making last generation City design refresh a costly one, changing the whole front side of the car.

Can you spot the difference?

From headlamp, bonnet, A pillar, body lines, door handles, it’s same ol same ol

But enough of that, now… Why is the new City costs literally an arm? Well, because my “Jazz with ass” nephew asked me… “is that the new Civic?” And you know what my reaction is? I TOTALLY LAUGHED!!! And gives a thumbs up to Honda design department, you’ve outdone yourself guys, the new City design is totally on the spot, it’s no longer a Jazz with ass, it’s now a proper small sedan devoid of clues from what car is derived upon. However things doesn’t bode well from pricing stand point… As you can see, platform sharing means sharing everything, from production to development cost. With the new City totally looks like a different car from the new Jazz, well, there’s bound to be something that incurs extra cost for the beloved H.

First of all, let’s take a look under the hood… Powering the car is the all new L15 engine, the freak 1.5L  120ps engine that debuted on the Jazz and just recently found its way on the new Honda Freed. Okay, let’s play count… That’s Jazz, 1, City, 2, Freed, 3… A grand total of 3 car that uses the same engine. Now compared with the old L15 engine that found its way on Jazz, Mobilio, Mobilio Spike, City, and Airwave, a complete line up of cars which warrants economy of scale. The new engine incurs new development cost, and also factory retooling costs for casting the new engine. To make matter more lively, Honda used an all new 5 speed automatic transmission complete with the black magic like grade logic control and turn shift (or whatever) technology… A 5 speed automatic transmission which has its competitions running dry (most of the competition still using “dumb” 4 speed automatic transmission, sans Toyota).

So under the hood, it’s a totally new experience. Compared to the same old VVT-I or the same old VVT of some cars (nudge*Toyota Yaris/Vios, Suzuki Aerio/Baleno/SX4/Swift).

Now, let’s take a look at the exterior side. Where the old City and Jazz shares almost everything, the new City and Jazz is different as night and day. Show me what part of the new City or Jazz (picture above) that shares any resemblance… I dare you… Now, show me what part of SX4 and Baleno that shares any resemblance… Okay, let’s not be cruel, but come on, SX4 and Baleno shares basically everything… Now my nephew even called Baleno the new Jazz with ass (as it is the same car with SX4 + trunk). Toyota does this with the new Yaris and Vios, but with better cladding and nicer retooling… You still can see similarities, but not as blatant as the new SX4 and its sedan version. Suzuki off course does it with reason, making the SX4 sedan (Baleno) as SX4 with trunk equals not much messing around in the factory floor, making economy of scale thaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat much easier.

Everything is different, not a single similarity

Not a single damn thing is similar between the two cars

Now what of the new City? It doesn’t resemble a Jazz in any nights, even after hard frat party. It just different. The new Jazz might still looks like a mini MPV, but the new City just looks like a regular old sedan. Just look at those A pillars people! Now tell me if Honda Jazz was used as the base design for the City… Where in the Jazz you have that side glass next to the sideview mirror, the City has no such thing. Even the mighty Toyota designs Yaris and Vios A pillar with strong similarity. As we know, A pillars define the base model of a car that is derived from. Case in point, the SX4 and SX4 sedan shares exactly the same A pillar, and look what my nephew called the car (hint: above). If A pillar is not a strong enough indication… Look at the body lines… The line that goes from the rear door handles slopes toward the front of the car on the Jazz, where as it’s dead straight on the City.

So what’s on the inside? Yaris and Vios shares that funky center dashboard, SX4 and Baleno shares that simple and mysterious dash… But the new City? Does it share anything with the new Jazz? Well… No and No. Where the Jazz dash looks like a funky new age, or in short, a cheap miniature dash of the Civic, the City’s dash looks surprisingly different. Unlike the driver oriented dash design of the new Jazz, where each knobs are placed right next to the steering column, the City control knobs are placed dead center on the dash. City’s silver accented center dash also differs with Jazz’s straight simple center dash design… …So? So!? So, new dashboard means another shot on the economy of scale knee cap. No way in hell Honda will able to streamline two different dashboard molds under one production roof.

The simple hip Jazz dashboard is no match for... Err... Slightly upscaled Citys?

Up: Jazz, down: City, there’s similarity, but alot of distinction that garners a separation… Phew, that’s a tough sentence

So people… When you look at the City’s new design (and price), do remember… IT IS NOT a Jazz/Fit with trunk anymore, it’s a totally new car, a car made of mating Honda global small compact platform with the hopes of Honda fans all around the world… Errr… Around the world? Yup dear readers, Honda made the City a global car now. Our small ASEAN-Japan only sedan is now a global car, no longer exclusive for the squinty eyes (that’s a joke for Asians), Honda is selling the City to Europe and anywhere Honda could spread its hefty development and production costs.
In the end, City’s high price tag is attributed to several factors…

  1. New engine and transmission development cost.
  2. New design and factory retooling cost.
  3. The last… And this is just locally… High foreign currency exchange rate. The city is fully imported, and thus, with current global economy uncertainty, Honda shoot high currency exchange rate to protect its selling margin.

So… Is Honda to blame? All I see is that, Honda answers the critics by designing the City from the ground up. The high expense is just one outcome of that… Like the elders said, you can’t satisfy humans. If Honda wanted to cut costs, they could, and what will the city look like? A Jazz with ass again? Surely something that will involve another round of ridicules from the competitors and the general public. However, Honda does listens to its customers, and still they got a beating in the ass. To hell with nay sayers… If you can’t afford it, buy a tata Nano.

Edit: 23-12-2008 : I happened to stumble upon Paultan’s entry about Malaysian’s Honda City… Lo and behold! The car is actually more expensive there compared to Honda Indonesia City. Starting at 84980 Ringgit, and topping at 89980 Ringgit, it equates to 284 million Rupiah, much much more expensive than the 260 million Rupiah of Honda Indonesia most loaded City. Sure people are clamoring about Honda Thailand sells the City at about 220 million Rupiah, or 690 thousand Baht… But do you guys knows about local automotive taxes? Well… It’s expensive in some part of ASEANs…

Surely though, the fans and those who appreciates engineering will buy the City, although with slightly less smile, I’m sure. It’s when they experience the Honda quality and that particular Honda engineering, then, they will take noticed that every penny is worth it.

… Me? What I drive? I drive one of the car pictured above, and it’s not a Honda… I just have Hondamentalism.

Pictures are taken from Autoblog, Honda of Japan website and various sources

4th Generation Honda City Caught Testing In India

Honda CityThis post has been updated with official pictures here. With the advent of Honda Fit, came along the small compact global platform from Honda and with it, a slew of Fit inspired cars all shape and size. Now that the 2nd generation Honda Fit is rolling out across the globe, Honda venerable Fit based entry size sedan, the City is also due for a redesign. Although the details are sketchy, a forum member of Team-BHP India has pictures of a camouflaged car that is claimed to be the 4th generation Honda City in India. Witty comments and more information of when it will be released, after the click. Continue reading

Honda Jazz 2008 & Prepare For An Epic Battle… A Paper Battle

Well, the bird is out of its cage, the all new 2008 2nd generation Jazz (Fit) has arrived in Indonesia!!! Although I didn’t have any pictures, I do have information taken from the official brochure. Then, I will start a new section for my blog here called Paper Battle. The premise is simple, I will take a spec sheet of some cars which I’m going to compare, and compares it… It’s that simple, that’s why it’s called Paper Battle… Comparison based on the brochure… D’oh…

But anyway, here’s the information regarding the all new 2nd generation Honda Jazz.

There are only regular and RS model.

  • The regular version comes with the RS engine 1.5L 120ps.
  • Both version comes with 5MT or 5AT, no more CVT.
  • No future plan to bring the 1.3L + CVT version.
  • There are no moonroof for both models.
  • ABS+EBD+BA standard on both models.
  • The regular model uses 15” wheels, the RS uses 16” wheels.
  • Footrests on both model for AT version (finally!)
  • The RS model got dual SRS airbag, a bodykit, front armrest, keyless entry (akin to Accord’s), retractable door mirror, and paddle shift for the AT version.
  • Multi Information Display to calculate fuel consumption standard on both model.
  • Under seat box standard on both model.

The prices are:
Regular MT : Rp 160 million (US$16K)
Regular AT : Rp 170 million (US$17K)
RS MT : Rp 172 million (US$17,5K)
RS AT : Rp 183 million (US$18K)

Prices are expected to increase as demand increases, and demand will increase! It is priced competitively, still in range with other Japanese city cars (Toyota and Suzuki), and comes with a distinct most powerful engine in its class and the first to use 5AT on city cars.

I’m quite speechless indeed. I know for long that Honda Indonesia will probably follow Honda Thailand’s model portfolio, but I expect huge price jack. The MID, 5AT and 1.5L i-VTEC alone should warrant a premium price for the new Jazz, but it is quite affordable. The brochure even stated that the 2008 Jazz comes with tilt and telescoping steering wheel… I need to see this car in person, that’s just too awesome for its current price.

Damn! When I’m just about to buy 2008 Suzuki SX-4 (long story) and the new Jazz came out of nowhere… Oh well, three months of fasting and resolve to finally buy a non Honda obliterated to hell and back. I just need to test drive this baby and I will have another fasting time to consider the new Jazz or Suzuki SX-4… Damn….

Suzuki Indonesia… A Not So Champion Of Rational Thinkers

Okay, so I wrote back then about how Suzuki is the champion of rational thinkers. Now people might expect that I’m changing my mind about the matter because I don’t… However, I have this irk to settle about Suzuki Indonesia and why they kill a perfect little car called the Swift.

Suzuki products are widely known for its class leading equipments. For example here in Indonesia, the Swift WAS a product of choice for cars under US$16K with airbag+ABS+EBD+onboard computer+audio controller on steering wheel. Other cars barely reach Suzuki Swift’s equipments even as an option. The trend continues with SX-4 here in Indonesia, at just roughly US$17K, you get all of the above but with a bigger chassis and everything. But recently, Suzuki chopped off the options on Swift to the bare minimum. The car now has nothing but priced at mind boggling US$14K, down around US$3K with the negation of the options.

Now it is understandable to make the Swift as bare as it is to reduce price. But Suzuki Indonesia does not offer Swift with the extra options anymore, just the bare minimum… Now what the hell with that? From what I heard and read at many automotive forums and mailing list, Suzuki does this to push sales because the car is not selling well compared to Honda Jazz and Toyota Yaris. D’oh! Off course it is, Swift is a small car compared to those two. It is not a family car per se, it is more of a coupe with extra doors at the back. Rather than just pushing for bigger sales, Suzuki can use the Swift as a stepping stones for people who wants to buy bigger Suzuki cars in the future. After all, what sellers wants from their customer is their retainership and loyalty.

Instead, Suzuki Indonesia degrade the class of Swift into that of a cheap entry level car and those who wants to buy the full optioned Suzuki cars must buy Grand Vitara or SX-4. Now where’s the logic on that? The exclusion of models with full factory options are caused by Suzuki decision to localized the production of Swift, because before the Swift was exclusively imported from Japan. Now with the localization of the Swift, Suzuki deletes the option altogether. Suzuki can still import Swift with full options, even for just a handfull because there will always be a market for high end products. Is Suzuki worried that Swift will overlap SX-4 sales? I don’t think so, because the SX-4 is already a bigger car, even though it is derived from Swift chassis.

One thing I can notice about Suzuki Indonesia decision is just because they want to save as much money as possible. By making all Swift as one standard model, they can achieve economy of scale far easier and they don’t have to incur inventory cost by keeping a separate line of cars. The thing is importing a car are full of hassle, first there’s the administration fiasco between Suzuki Indonesia and Suzuki Japan, that’s for sure. Then there’s the hazard of importing a car from far away land physically (well, you won’t know what happened to the car on its way here), not to mention the time and cost it took to ship cars from overseas.

I wholeheartedly understand why Suzuki want to “degrade” the caste of Swift. After all by doing this Suzuki now has a complete line of products ranging from the affordable entry level Karimun Estillo, to the not so expensive neutered Swift, to the rightly priced all terrain SX-4, the coming soon SX-4 sedan, and to the top of the line Grand Vitara. All products ranging from US$10K to US$25K.

Now my decision of buying a Swift has been decimated to the lot… I do feel sad because the car was the best choice for a full optioned car under the price of US$15K. It seems the curse of Honda rears its head again, probably I will buy the all new Honda Fit/Jazz, a not so bad model. I wanted to buy SX-4 though but kind of afraid Suzuki Indonesia is going to pull the same trick with neutering the SX-4 as it did with the Swift. If I bought the fully optioned Swift back then, probably I will feel alienated by Suzuki Indonesia decision to neuter all existing Swift. Because after all, how can I brag and persuade people to use the Swift if the existing Swift is not exactly the same product I used? Don’t start about the exclusion of Airbag and ABS doesn’t bring about different driving experience, it does, wait until you gotten into a situation when those things safe your life… I had.

Suzuki, The Champion Of Rational Thinkers

Let’s make things straight here first okay… I love Honda, my passion is Honda, I dream of working for Honda, but I couldn’t help to fall to the tease of Suzuki and their offerings lately, especially the four wheel vehicles they are selling.

Growing up with Honda really makes it stick in my head for sooooooo many years, even though it does not erode until now, the thought of owning cars other than Honda just recently grew up on me. Suzuki never had a brand recognition as strong as Honda or Toyota here in Indonesia. What Suzuki is well known for here is the Suzuki Carry that is being used as a public transportation around “puncak” area. The Carry are well known because the fact that it is a 1 (one) liter/1000cc engine but carries a maximum of 7 passengers with relative ease on mountainous area (puncak means mountain in english). The reliability and the die hardness of the car puts Suzuki quite high in brand recognition… But alas, as a commuter/business vehicle.

On the other side of the spectrum, on its passenger cars, Suzuki is not known for reliability or advance technology, unlike Toyota with its very well known reliability and Honda’s advance VTEC frugality. Subjectivity aside, the last generation small sedan from Suzuki (Baleno Next-G) even got beaten for its design and technological aspect by Toyota Vios and Honda City. All seemed pretty clear where Suzuki was heading, but suddenly Suzuki came up with a new slogan and Swift, the first of a slew changes that will define Suzuki in the near future.

Suzuki now has a new slogan, “Way of Life”, and with it came a complete revolution of how things are made by Suzuki. The Swift was Suzuki first try on completely change its approach on designing a car. Gone are the pudgy looks that haunts Suzuki products, in are the European go-kart look of a car, hinting at everybody who are looking it that a car can be attractive yet convey a sense of passion along the way. The Swift is by no means utilitarian like Honda Fit/Jazz, it has small boot at the back, and the second row seats are cramped for anybody taller than 160cm, but from the outside… It’s whole lot different story. While Honda design the Fit to look cute deliberately, Suzuki designs the Swift to look macho and very boy racer-ish. Then there is the new X-factor, or rather called the SX-4, another unique and category buster car from Suzuki. While the SX-4 took the same Swift chassis and making it a bit longer and giving second row seating a better leg room, it also bust the segment of city car by introducing crossover concept, combining SUV stance and city car altogether. The result? A strange city car that is smaller than the medium class cars but have stance like SUV… This actually makes the car looks like a half size MPV… Or something, it bust the segment and defines a new one anyway.

So what makes me wanting a Suzuki after all this year being a Honda fan boy? Well, the first thing is now I am more of a rational guy. The Suzuki SX-4 is priced at around Rp 165 Million (around US$16500), it has on board computer to calculate fuel consumption, steer mounted audio control, ABS+EBD, and a dual airbag. Its smaller brethren, the Swift came in at Rp 145 Million (around US$14500) with the same stuff available on the SX-4. Now let’s take an example of Honda Fit/Jazz; For a similarly equipped car, the Fit/Jazz came in at Rp 170 Million (around US$17000) minus on board computer to calculate fuel consumption and steer mounted audio control.

If I wanted to replace my Jazz, I might go for the Swift because I don’t need the extra boot space anyway and I don’t have a lot to spend… I think the latter is the appropriate reason. Yes Honda or Toyota products have better resale value, but down the line,the difference only hovers around 5-10% of 5 years depreciation, and by that time I will have enough money to upgrade to something more roomy (might be another Honda though).

For now, Suzuki trump card is just that, value for money. How they achieve that is just a no brainer… Everything that is inside the Swift and SX-4 is basically the same technology available since 5 years ago on the original Aerio/Aerio Sedan/Baleno. The M15A engine which features a cam changing VVT mechanism is just refined and the automatic transmission is still the same 4matic technology featured on the cars I mention earlier. Using the same technology is not incapability of Suzuki to offer a new one, but if you can refine an existing technology, making it more bulletproof, why use something new that is unproven? Most of all, by using tried and true technology, Suzuki does not have to incur investment cost to bottomline price of its products. This rational thinking of Suzuki really goes with my current disposition towards the world after all.

Anywho… If I do replace my car with a Suzuki, rest assured, you will know me for I will definitely place “do you have a Honda” sticker at the rear glass. Honda will always stay, for the better or for worse… Even if it’s just a sticker. Until I have enough money, the Power of Dreams will be my driving force, to be united again with the one (brand) I desire most. Why is there tears coming down from my eyes… Shoot… Sometimes I get sentimental too fast, but letting go of a dream is quite hard… I’ve always wanted a used 04′ Civic or even an 01′ CR-V, heck! A Honda City would be fine, but I have my priorities now, and my personal dreams are met with conditional real world demands.