Indian market leader Maruti Udyog has launched another new Suzuki model but is not building it locally, for once.

The new Grand Vitara with two-litre petrol engine, is being fully imported from Japan, Maruti said at the New Delhi launch event on Thursday.

Maruti added that the Grand Vitara is Suzuki’s third generation SUV and is among the automaker’s global strategic models – along with the Swift and SX4 Maruti builds locally – and has received positive reviews in markets like Japan, the US and Germany.

Speaking at the launch, Maruti chairman S Nakanishi said: “India is a very important and evolving market for Suzuki. India’s automobile market is ranked among the top 10 in the world in terms of volume. Suzuki and Maruti believe that we have to diversify our product line up to meet rapidly changing customer demands. The launch of Grand Vitara is a step in that direction.”

Managing director and CEO Jagdish Khattar added: “Grand Vitara [is] our fifth model in less than 12 months. The WagonR Duo, Zen Estilo, Swift Diesel and SX4, while being successful, also showcase the diversity of models that Maruti has been able to offer in the past year. The Grand Vitara takes that story forward. It widens the range of products that Maruti offers.”

The Indian-spec Grand Vitara has standard safety equipment including ABS, EBD and booster with brake assist, dual airbags, seat belt pretensioners and force limiters.

Maruti said Indian customers are aware of Suzuki Motor Corporation’s global leadership in mini and small cars but many do not yet know of its leadership in the 4×4 arena, particularly in compact SUVs.

The automaker began manufacturing 4×4 vehicles in 1968 with the LJ-10 and was the first company to mass produce four-wheel drives for Japan’s domestic market.

The updated LJ-50 with 550 cc engine was the first to be exported and was a success in Australia.

The Vitara nameplate appeared in 1988.