LIFE IN THE SWIFT
Suzuki’s city car lighter and roomier
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.
The Swift brings brains and good looks to the city-car class.