TOKYO - The Toyota Corolla has been Japan's best-selling vehicle for nearly 30 years, making it appear almost unsinkable as Japan's ruling model. Suzuki Motor Co., however, has come up with a titanic challenge to the Corolla.
Suzuki has signed teen heartthrob Leonardo DiCaprio, star of the international movie blockbuster Titanic, as a celebrity endorser for its Wagon R Wide, an extended-width version of its popular miniwagon. Ads featuring DiCaprio began appearing in Japanese media this month.
Suzuki is betting DiCaprio's star power will be enough to help the Wagon R, a boxy tall wagon that already was a strong No. 2 on the sales charts, sink the Corolla.
So far this year, Corolla sales top those of the Wagon R by 75,035 to 72,748, thanks to a huge push by Toyota dealers in March, the last month of Japan's fiscal year. But the Wagon R outsold the Corolla in January and April.