Welcome to Ridiculous Rebadges, a series of articles in which I go through and examine the details and circumstances surrounding some of the more infamous and some of the more esoteric vehicular rebadges throughout automotive history.
Last time we had a Ridiculous Rebadge, we looked at the Seat Exeo, a car which was undoubtedly more familiar to the European crowd than those of us in the rest of the world. Today’s rebadge will likely be just as alien to those of us outside of Italy. As an idea, it’s pretty strange to begin with: it’s a small MPV/crossover with AWD that usually wears a Japanese badge, was built in Hungary, and came with Italian and Japanese engines alike. It’s the Fiat Sedici!
As odd as this rebadge might seem, once you start digging into the context of the development of the Suzuki SX4, it begins to make more sense. The SX4 was meant to be a European-based hatch for Suzuki, kind of how the Cee’d is to Kia nowadays and thus, to give the car a more European flair, Suzuki asked Giugiaro’s Italdesign for styling help. Just a year prior, Italdesign had done the work for Fiat’s Croma, and this was likely the connection that lead Fiat to choose Suzuki as their partner to create an entry into the rapidly expanding mini-MPV/crossover segment.
In some ways, the Sedici was likely a boon for Suzuki as well since it gave them a step into the European market by being able to introduce the model from a more recognized brand. In fact, the car was probably more of a sales success than either brand had expected, becoming Italy’s second best selling SUV by November 2006 and was the best-seller in June 2007.
The Sedici and SX4 subsequently received facelifts in 2009, updating their appearances and bringing more efficient Euro 5 engines. Oh, and if you didn’t already know, side note, the name ‘Sedici’ means ‘Sixteen’ in Italian, a reference to the 4x4 powertrain since 4*4=16.
Even after the refresh, however, both crossovers were showing their age and the 1/3 Fiat to 2/3 Suzuki ratio dropped off as new competitors such as the Juke entered the market. The new SX4 was released in 2013 and the 500X, developed under FCA ownership, replaced the Sedici by 2014. There is one final interesting note to this story though: as the Sedici and SX4 were in development, a third rebadge was considered for release, the Lancia Pangea. However, as you’re likely aware, Fiat already was beginning to have second thoughts on keeping the Lancia name alive in 2006 and, rather than creating a Lancia 9-2X, they decided to call off the project.