2005 was truly a launch pad year for most of the manufacturers, and Suzuki was no exception. But this time it was not a motorcycle or a compact off-road vehicle they're unleashing. What they've launched one Thursday night of May was a sign that they're going back to what they've started doing and doing it well: conquering the compact van segment and winning the hearts of countless Filipino families.

So what's new from Suzuki this time? Obviously, it's a compact, but not as compact as Super Carry of the 1990s; what they have in their helms now is a family mover with the virtue of mobile living in mind, and this they call the All-Purpose Vehicle or APV for short.

Maintaining lean numbers such as 4,155 mm length, 1,655 mm width, and 1,860mm height, it does stay within the confines of what a compact van should be. What's boggling the mind is that it could seat eight passengers in full comfort, and, cargo size of up to 714 liters is welcome thanks to the fold-up third row seat configuration.

Exterior wise, the APV carries with it a bold and streamlined design common with today's vehicles. Departing from the cab-over norm is the new snub nose design of the APV, wherein a lift of the hood will give easy access to everyday maintenance items such as vital vehicle fluids and the car jack. The engine still sits below the driver's seat though.

With Suzuki, compactness does not compromise durability and reliability. In line with its rich off-road tradition, the APV has a ride height of 170mm, which, according to Suzuki, gives this van courage to traverse through knee-deep floods, in addition to the repositioned intake system, which is a little bit higher than the usual so that the chances of water getting into the engine is virtually eradicated. Suspension system is comprised of the proven tandem of struts and leafs; technically translated this means that a McPherson strut type suspension system in the front are complemented by leaf springs in the back.

The 1.6-liter engine of the new APV is another attempt to depart yet stay within the confines of what a compact car should be. Possessing numbers such as 91 Hp maximum power and 127 Nm maximum torque, one could bet that its power will suffice with the everyday duties the APV will face, but that is yet to be seen and feel.

Other convenient features of the APV include the dual second row doors that open in a swing-like fashion that's very akin to most passenger cars. A dual air-conditioning system on the GLX model provides ample cooling especially to the rear audiences. Safety notes include side beams on all doors and Suzuki's TECT (Total Effective Control Technology) system that is designed to cushion occupants in collision affairs.

The APV is Suzuki's new global strategy and will soon make its way on countries such as Oceania, Middle East, Africa, Caribbean, Latin America, and Southeast Asia. With its capability to deal with diverse road conditions that the aforementioned countries offer, it is no doubt that this is the new standard for compact vans the world over.

The Suzuki APV is available in all Suzuki/Hino dealers with a very attractive price of PHP 599,000 for the GL variant with 5-speed manual transmission, and PHP 719,000 for the GLX model with dual air-conditioning system and 4-speed automatic transmission.