Just that little bit Swifter
New Suzuki is more of the same ... only a touch better
THE new Suzuki Swift has grown up. It is exactly what you expect of a major newcomer in 2011— but with the same strengths as the outgoing car and enough improvements to justify a change.
The styling is a letdown: more like a facelift than a true model change but the offset is provided by a starting sticker price that’s the same as the basic Swift from 2005.
That means from $15,990 for the manual-only Swift GA, although even that car now comes with seven airbags and ESP stability control.
The Swift continues as a boxy five-door hatch that’s easy to drive and park, and it’s still a serious rival to a range of small cars that includes the benchmark Volkswagen Polo, Toyota’s Yaris and the ageing Honda Jazz.
VALUE The bottom line is the bottom line for bargain-basement buyers and Suzuki has done well here— true, it’s been helped by the strength of the Aussie dollar— to hold the starting price down to $15,990.
Most customers are going for the slightly upscale GL from $16,690, mostly because it is available with Suzuki’s fourspeed auto but also because it gets a slightly better dashboard with a revcounter and USB sound input as well as extra paint on the basic plastic parts.
The Swift now comes with a 1.4-litre engine but there is promise of more go in an upcoming Swift Sport.
Suzuki say the Swift gains significant influence from the
mid-sized Kizashi, particularly in the dashboard design and cabin quality, while trumpeting the success of the previous model, which set a Suzuki record by hitting two-million sales. There are three models: GA, GL and GLX with the topline car going to $18,990 or $20,690 as an auto.
TECHNOLOGY There is nothing revolutionary in the fourth-generation Swift.
The 1.4-litre engine is new and brings 70kW and 130Nm with average economy of 5.5 litres/100km and CO emissions of 132 grams/km.
However, the auto is still only a four-speeder.
The car has a slightly longer wheelbase to improve ride and add some millimetres in the cabin. Suzuki claims everything from improved braking to sharper electric steering, as well as better ride comfort from a tweaked torsion-beam rear suspension.
The development team’s motto for the new Swift was simple More Swift’,’’ said Suzuki Australia general manager Tony Devers.
2 You could easily be forgiven for thinking that someone put the previous Swift into a 3D photocopier and set the result to 105 per cent.
So it’s a very, very, familiar family look. The last Swift was a revelation when it arrived, and it scooped the 2005
Car of the Year award— but the new shape is predictable and nothing special.
Even so, the dashboard is far more modern and more userfriendly and the overall space inside is also more comfortable and enjoyable.
SAFETY Suzuki claims class-leading safety thanks to seven airbags and the usual ABS-ESP combo. That important seventh bag is for the driver’s knees.
The great news here for buyers is that all this protection comes on the basic car, and not through an extra-cost safety package or exclusively on the flagship model.
The previous Swift was a five-star car and Suzuki is expecting the same score for the new model.
DRIVING The new Swift is, like so many cars these days, bigger, smoother, and better. But it is missing the surprise-anddelight features of the previous model. The cabin is a bit better— and there is a touch of Kizashi in the design and controls— but it’s still not, well . . . special.
Suzuki has done some really great cars in recent years, most notably with the previous Swift and the Kizashi. However, this one is merely good.
If that sounds like criticism, it is. But not because of any faults in the car. It’s just that Suzuki can, and should, do better and will need to do more to compete with its rivals.
The Volkswagen Polo costs a fair bit more but is the new benchmark in the class.
The Swift must also be shopped against the impressive Ford Fiesta and even the ageing Toyota Yaris.
It’s hard to make direct comparisons, with so many body styles and engines among the opposition, but the Swift is right in the five-door heartland with its 1.4-litre engine. It is a good drive, and has good space for the class, with good value.
It rides better than before, is fairly sharp in its steering response, but the engine is let down in the four-speed auto.
VERDICT Nice car, nice drive, very good pricetag. But we expected more.
Same-same look: Suzuki’s stylists rolled the arm on thenewSwift