It punches above its weight

Suzuki’s city car returns lighter, roomier and loaded with safety gear

Herald Sun - Motoring - - COVER STORY - 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 — with pedes­trian de­tec­tion — and lane wan­der alert.

The Suzuki’s radar and cam­era will pre­vent a crash be­low 50km/h — and re­duce the im­pact of ac­ci­dents be­tween 50km/h and 100km/h by slam­ming on the brakes.

Suzuki says it has been sur­prised by ini­tial in­ter­est in the safety and tech­nol­ogy pack and has had to or­der more cars so equipped in fu­ture ship­ments from Ja­pan. It had an­tic­i­pated there would be greater in­ter­est in the in­fo­tain­ment.

All but the 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 with the new Swift be­cause it’s mak­ing up for lost ground.

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

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

It might be a niche brand in Aus­tralia but Suzuki is in the big league in Ja­pan, rank­ing third be­hind Toy­ota and Honda — and com­fort­ably ahead of Mazda, Nis­san and 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 new Swift is poised to boost wan­ing sales of small hatches as other brands are likely to lift their game.

It’s not cheap, though. The GL au­to­matic is $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 the 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 rear glass, 16-inch al­loy wheels, cruise con­trol and LED tail-lights.

The flag­ship GLX — which has the tech­nol­ogy and 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 the GL.

The auto’s $17,990 drive­away start­ing point puts the Swift in the mid­dle of a scrap be­tween the re­cently facelifted Toy­ota Yaris and new Kia Rio (both of which are $17,490 drive-away) and the up­dated Mazda2, which 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 and big­ger 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 the pre­vi­ous 1.4) is matched to a

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