Suzuki has revealed that it has completed its first 'fully fledged tarmac tests' with the new SX4 WRC, which will make its debut in the FIA World Rally Championship on the Rallye de France-Tour de Corse in mid-October.

Although the team began testing with the car on asphalt in April, the SX4 WRC has since 'evolved further from the earlier prototype design' and its specifications are said to 'already be close' to what is planned to be fielded in this season's WRC 'test' events.

"Throughout the five day tests in southern Europe, the team confirmed the performance and reliability of the much improved car," added a statement from the Suzuki World Rally Team. "Then in the course of a further five days they worked on refining the basic settings of each component to investigate further performance upgrades.

"The course selected for the latest round of testing had a layout that included big ups and downs and successive tight corners and the SX4 WRC demonstrated stable performance without encountering any significant troubles, both through low-to-mid-speed corners and on high-speed runs."

President of Suzuki Sport, Nobuhiro Tajima meanwhile added that while they are pleased with the progress made, much more needs to be done if they want to compete with the likes of Citroen, Ford and Subaru. As such more testing is now planned in a 'quest to bring out more competitive performance from the Suzuki SX4 WRC'.

"The car is shaping up to an extent that I think it's competitive to quite a degree," said Tajima "But our rivals' machines are also evolving as faster and stronger, so we need to make sure we find even more speed and performance for our car.

"That's why we've decided to move up our schedule and try and see if we could incorporate into our test-entry 2007 model the specs originally intended for the 2008 Championship entry model.

"We really need to go to such a distance to have a fighting chance in the WRC. We've taken time in for testing in Japan and Europe aimed at achieving further improvement and now our car is demonstrating good performance on tarmac.

"Corsica is just a few months away, and we'll be working to steadily improve and bring the car to top shape so we can hope to show some fast times."