Of late, the Indian automotive web-space has been abuzz with the news around the S-Cross and Maruti Suzuki’s recently launched premium dealership brand NEXA. Motoroids has been at the very forefront of this online buzz, delivering you an exhaustive review of the S-Cross and a detailed live launch report of the NEXA Brand.
To start off, we would like to congratulate Maruti Suzuki India to have come up with this unique concept of having a separate premium dealership network for the same brand. While other global brands like Toyota and Nissan have created entirely new luxury brands to cater to the premium audience, NEXA is different, as it will feature products bearing the same badge but with a more premium positioning. While NEXA, owing to the reasons detailed above is a unique proposition, its very uniqueness can turn bothersome for the brand in theory. And we’ll explain why.
The very basis of our doubt is the fact that it’s not the dealership, but the badge people tend to find value in. The badge on the car stays forever while the experience with the dealership is a matter of twice a year, thrice, if you’re unlucky. So as an argument, to start with, it’s essentially the badge, not the dealership that matters the most to the customer.
We can take the example of the Kizashi, which, despite being a great product, could not find buyers as people did not want to pay too hefty a price for the Suzuki badge.
Let’s get to the product itself. We like the S-Cross, and that’s exactly what we have said in our road test report. It does look and feel slightly more upmarket than what you expect a typical Maruti Suzuki product to be. Be it the interiors in an all black theme with brushed silver inserts or the switches and knobs for the climate control which are finished immaculately – the levels of quality all around are unlike any other Maruti on offer. However, there are some other international car makers who are offering similar quality and finish through their everyday dealerships. The question that begs an answer here is – does a slight upgrade in quality and finish warrant and entirely new dealership chain? Also, by doing this, isn’t Maruti making its everyday buyers feel like second-rung customers?
Let’s face it, even with all its premium look and feel, the S-Cross is no Mercedes A-Class or a BMW 1-series, neither in terms of badge value, nor in terms of performance or price. Had the S-Cross been a product featuring a 2.0 liter diesel powered machine, with 6 airbags, traction control, a panoramic sunroof and a specially tuned chassis and suspension for sporty handling, and a brand new, premium sub-brand (on the lines of Toyota-Lexus, Honda-Acura), we would really have found merit in the entire exercise. For a product which at best is as good as a few other international offerings in the segment, well, not so much.
As we mentioned right at the outset, Nexa is a unique experiment. And if the sales of Maruti Suzuki products is something to go by, the marketing honchos at this Indo Japanese venture know what they are doing. At this point, we would be honest to admit that we are a bit skeptical. But at the same time, we would also be honest to admit that we would only be happy if Maruti Suzuki proves us wrong with their NEXA venture.
We wish the Indian car major all the luck!
Do you agree? Disagree? Do let us know your opinion on the subject via the comments section below