First drive: New Suzuki Swift

16 Mar 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on First drive: New Suzuki Swift
Suzuki AH 50

First drive: New Suzuki Swift

Jez Spinks

Fourth-generation Suzuki Swift

Suzuki’s fourth-generation Swift.

The time machine has still yet to be invented, so I’m fairly confident that it’s 2011 and not 2005.

Yet the Suzuki Swift before me purporting to be an all-new model looks uncannily similar to the small car that launched six years ago.

The Japanese brand isn’t trying to pull a fast one, though. Taking a more hawk-eye approach confirms the subtle changes for the fourth-generation Swift: larger, elongated headlights; wider and curvier grille and lower air intake; revised foglight housings; wraparound glass that now curves upwards rather than downwards at the rear of the car; a cleaner look for the rear with revised tail-lights.

Overall, the Swift is also bigger. It’s 10mm higher and 5mm wider, so it’s the 90mm extension to the length that’s most obvious.

There’s less confusion inside, where a far more contemporary and interesting-looking design awaits. Soft-touch plastics are thin on the ground but the presentation – which reminds of the company’s mid-size Kizashi – and fit and finish undoubtedly create a more upmarket feel.

It’s particularly noticeable in the Swift with the most features, the $18,990 GLX model, which includes a steering wheel wrapped in beautifully thick yet soft leather.

The previous Swift offered decent space but a 40mm wheelbase increase, while not exactly creating a Tardis effect, has allowed its successor to offer some extra knee room.

The GLX’s steering wheel is the only one to adjust for reach as well as height, and the range-topper is the only Swift to feature Bluetooth.

All Swifts step up in safety, with the addition of a driver’s knee bag – for a total of seven – and stability control across the line-up. There’s also progress in its crash rating, with its NCAP score now five stars rather than four.

So far, the new Swift is living up to the ‘More Swift’ tag Suzuki thought up for the car’s development program, though not every area has moved forward.

While most car makers are now downsizing engines for better fuel efficiency without sacrificing improved engine outputs, the new 1.4-litre four-cylinder loses a bit of power and torque compared with the 1.5-litre unit it replaces, delivering 70kW and 130Nm instead of 73kW and 133Nm.

Transmission options, while updated, also remain in the past. Buyers have the option of a five-speed manual or four-speed auto (except manual-only base model) when six-speeders are becoming the norm even in the city/light car class in which the Swift competes.

Consumption still drops from 6.3 to 5.5 litres per 100km for manual-equipped Swifts, though, matching the petrol benchmark for the class set by the VW Polo 77TSI. Pick an automatic, which carries a $1700 premium, and the figure is 6.2L/100km.

The manual is again the pick, and not just because it will increase the gap between fills. The auto is indecisive when it comes to selecting gears as soon as the engine’s lack of torque is exposed by hills.

Changing gears yourself can’t overcome the engine’s sluggishness at lower revs, but the 1.4-litre is happy to be worked hard higher in the rev range where it becomes more responsive without becoming buzzy.

Tyre and wind noise are more noticeable on the road than the engine, though even then the Swift’s cabin sounds better insulated than before.

There’s refinement to be found in the new – but still front struts, rear torsion beam – suspension, at least judging by the Swift’s impressive degree of compliance over country and town roads around Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula.

The mainland offshoot’s popular panoramic tourist spot, Arthurs Seat, and the winding 305m climb to the summit, via some hairy hairpins, confirmed the Swift hasn’t lost its dynamic credentials.

The Suzuki isn’t in the same handling league as the rival Ford Fiesta, but the brakes provide good feel, there’s keen turn-in, good body control and the steering is accurate and responsive if not always consistent in its weighting.

It all adds up to a Swift that continues to be Suzuki’s most complete vehicle. It doesn’t exactly move the game on for the city-car class, but it’s strong enough in key areas – including pricing that starts at the 2005 launch price of $15,990 – to ensure it’s a viable alternative to the likes of the Yaris, Fiesta, Mazda and Polo.

And for those looking for a more powerful variant, 2012 will see the arrival of a successor to the 92kW 1.6-litre Swift Sport.

I’d love to tell you more about it but, unfortunately, I don’t have any means of looking into the future.

7 comments so far

the Suzuki Swift. looks uncannily similar to the small car that launched six years ago

– And it’s still head and shoulders the best looking car in its class.

Transmission options, while updated, also remain in the past.

– In Japan new Swift is available with CVT and paddle shift, why aren’t these options available in Australia?

2012 will see the arrival of a successor to the 92kW 1.6-litre Swift Sport.

– Both the original GTI and the Sport offered a lot of car for a little money. The new Sport variant has a lot to live up to and I hope it delivers.

Commenter I go swiftly Location Anytown Date and time February 05, 2011, 7:16PM

If the makers of the new Suzuki swift think they can knock the Mazda 2 and Yarris of their perch, then they are kidding themselves. With the arse of a Renault and the gutless engine of yesteryear, Suzuki better do something special to outhandle and out gun these 2 major opponents around the twisty bits and down the straight. To make up for power deficiency, maybe Sukuki should employ some fade resistant stoppers as standard equipment to out brake the Yarris and Mazda 2 on the downhill run?

Commenter Goose Location wests Date and time February 05, 2011, 11:17PM

Ive always liked the swift but have seen how some of the older models have dated. It has changed my mind.

Commenter Daniel Location Sydney Date and time February 06, 2011, 9:12AM

Our household has a manual Hyundai Getz and an automatic Suzuki Swift purchased in 2008. What a disappointment to read of the reduced power on the new model Swift. The car has an excellent finish, looks smart and has style but is totally gutless. On one particular hill in the Getz I can stay in fifth gear, In the automatic Swift I have to manually select lower gears to maintain a road speed acceptable to other road users.

As I explained to my 10 year old son, the Getz is boring, has a cheaper finish but has superior additional features and outperforms the Swift enormously. My fold up bike also fits in the back of the Getz behind the back passenger seats with a little extra space still available, in the Swift the seats have to be folded forward. As an egotistical male I like a car that makes a statement (ex Mini Moke driver) but the boring Getz is so much better to drive – luckily my wife drives the Swift!

What a disappointment to see the Swift heading in the wrong direction.

Commenter dl Date and time February 07, 2011, 10:49AM

I got myself a Getz sx1.6 manual, after having tested the holden barina, suzuki swift and toyota yaris and polo 77tsi.What awonderfully honest car. Came with bluetooth streaming and phone connectivity, usb and ipod connectivity, as well as a life saving ESC, and only cost 15k. Would leave the swift, yaris and the rest miles behind at the lights!

Lil 1.6 is sweet and strong.

now all i need is new number plates. Getz it up!

Commenter ZMR Location Perth Date and time February 07, 2011, 5:45PM

why is it so high? i want the roof chopped off by few inches and guards flared up bit more. an awd swift turbo with around 200kw will definitely be my cuppa tea. coffee anyone?

Commenter holier than thou Location ipswich Date and time February 08, 2011, 4:12PM

Woke up this morning to buy a Polo 77TSi manual and walked out of the Suzuki showroom this afternoon having purchased a Swift GL Manual.

We have always owned VWs but they couldn’t supply one for 4 months and we needed a car now hence the need to seek other options. We looked at Yaris and felt sick, we tried the Hyundai i20 and liked it but something didn’t click.

The Swift was very close to the Polo in quality of finish, drivability and best of all it was significantly cheaper. We ended up there by chance but in reality even if they had a Polo in stock given the price difference I would have still ended up in the Suzuki as it was much better value for money.

I can’t seem to understand why people are so negative with these comments. Anyone who has actually been exposed to this new model would feel like a GOOSE making such derogatory remarks, then again maybe the name is fitting.

Commenter What are you all on about. Location Melbourne Date and time February 19, 2011, 8:29PM

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