LIFE IN THE SWIFT

Suzuki’s city car lighter and roomier

Geelong Advertiser - Motoring - - FRONT PAGE - JOSHUA DOWL­ING NA­TIONAL MO­TOR­ING ED­I­TOR joshua.dowl­ing@news.com.au

MEET the city hatch­back with tech­nol­ogy once re­served for lux­ury brands.

The Suzuki Swift is the first sub-$20,000 car in Aus­tralia with radar cruise con­trol, au­to­matic emer­gency brak­ing — pedes­trian de­tec­tion — and lane wan­der alert.

The Suzuki’s and cam­era will pre­vent a crash be­low 50km/h — and re­duce the im­pact of ac­ci­dents be­tween

100km/h by slam­ming on brakes.

Suzuki says it has been sur­prised ini­tial in­ter­est in safety and tech­nol­ogy pack

had to or­der more cars so equipped in fu­ture ship­ments from Ja­pan. It an­tic­i­pated there would be greater in­ter­est the in­fo­tain­ment. All but base man­ual vari­ant (which ac­counts for 5 per cent of sales) come with built-in nav­i­ga­tion as well as Ap­ple Car Play and An­droid Auto in the touch­screen.

Suzuki has gone all-out the new Swift be­cause it’s mak­ing up for lost ground.

The pre­vi­ous had to sol­dier on an ex­tra two years while Suzuki froze spend­ing along with rest of the au­to­mo­tive world dur­ing global fi­nan­cial cri­sis.

But now brand is back do­ing what it does best: fun, af­ford­able hatch­backs.

It might be a niche in Aus­tralia but Suzuki the big league in Ja­pan, rank­ing third be­hind Toy­ota and Honda —

com­fort­ably ahead of Mazda, Nis­san Mit­subishi, among oth­ers.

The brand punches above its weight in Aus­tralia once you strip out rental cars and fleet sales from ri­vals’ statis­tics.

When it comes to peo­ple putting their own money down on a new car, Suzuki ranks a close sec­ond be­hind only Mazda in the city-car class.

The Swift is poised boost wan­ing sales of small hatches as other brands are likely to lift their game.

It’s not cheap, though. The GL au­to­matic $17,990 drive­away, $2000 more than the pre­vi­ous model’s run-out price. Adding the tech­nol­ogy pack (radar cruise con­trol, AEB, pedes­trian de­tec­tion and lane wan­der warn­ing) takes price to $19,190 drive-away.

In ad­di­tion to built-in nav­i­ga­tion, Ap­ple Car Play and An­droid Auto, stan­dard fare in­cludes a rear view cam­era, sports-style flat bot­tom steer­ing wheel, tinted glass, 16-inch al­loy wheels, cruise con­trol and LED tail-lights.

The flag­ship GLX — which has the tech­nol­ogy safety pack as stan­dard jumps to $22,990 drive-away with auto.

It gains LED head­lights, pol­ished 16-inch al­loys, push­but­ton start, dig­i­tal cli­mate con­trol and a perky 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo ver­sus the 1.2-litre four-cylinder in GL.

The auto’s $17,990 drive­away start­ing point puts Swift in the mid­dle of a scrap be­tween re­cently facelifted Toy­ota Yaris and new Kia Rio (both of which are $17,490 drive-away) up­dated Mazda2, is cur­rently $18,990 drive-away.

ON THE ROAD

The new Swift is slightly shorter than be­fore but wider and lower — and has a big­ger foot­print.

In prac­ti­cal terms it has a roomier cabin boot (242L, up from 210L). The turn­ing cir­cle, at 9.6 me­tres, is among the best in the class.

The GL’s smaller engine (a 1.2-litre four-cylinder re­plac­ing

pre­vi­ous 1.4) is matched to a

con­tin­u­ously vari­able trans­mis­sion. Suzuki has slashed 135kg from the body, so there’s less weight to shift.

In GLX, 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo drives via a six-speed auto. It re­quires pre­mium un­leaded whereas GL can run on reg­u­lar.

Both vari­ants per­form im­pres­sively, not that they’re race cars. There is lit­tle dif­fer­ence be­tween them in a 0-100km/h dash: we timed them at 10.6 sec­onds for the GL and 9.8 GLX.

The is most ap­par­ent from rest to 60km/h be­cause the 1.2’s CVT tends drag on a bit ver­sus turbo GLX’s con­ven­tional six-speed au­to­matic.

Brakes dif­fer: the Swift GL has smaller front discs than GLX — and gets less ef­fec­tive drum brakes at rear, com­pared with all around on the GLX. In our test­ing this equated to a dif­fer­ence of about 1 me­tre in an emer­gency stop from 100km/h.

The GLX comes height and reach ad­justable steer­ing wheel, whereas the GL has ad­just­ment only.

Apart these dif­fer­ences both mod­els drive same. The wheels are iden­ti­cal but one a pol­ished fin­ish and the other is painted. Bridge­stone tyres, in spec for each, have good grip in dry or wet con­di­tions. The Swift is rel­a­tively quiet a car in this class. It’s com­fort­able over bumps yet sure-footed cor­ners.

seat­ing po­si­tion is lower than be­fore but the driver’s seat has a height ad­juster if you pre­fer taller view rather than a go-kart feel­ing.

In­side are seven cup hold­ers, two Isofix child seat mounts and three top tether points.

In the boot is a space-saver rather than full-size spare.

There’s no auto-up driver’s win­dow dig­i­tal speed dis­play would be wel­come, as they’re be­com­ing norm in the class.

A sun vi­sor that ex­tends on its arm would block side glare. As it is now, be­cause the wind­screen so up­right,

doesn’t reach far enough to give any screen­ing from late af­ter­noon sun.

There’s also no re­vers­ing cam­era on the base model man­ual, while new car goes with­out knee airbag of the pre­vi­ous model. The Swift scored four stars in Euro­pean crash test with safety pack, although Euro­pean test­ing pro­ce­dures dif­fer from Aus­tralia’s.

VER­DICT

The Swift brings brains and good looks to the city-car class.

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