UP IN SIZE, LIGHT ON GEAR
Suzuki’s lively Swift runabout gains space but the base manual leaves a lot out
The Suzuki Swift has always been a smart choice in the baby-car class.
Now the third-generation Swift has arrived as part of a new-model push by the Japanese brand.
PAUL: I’ve been looking forward to the new Swift. It’s been one of my favourite small cars over the years.
ALI: I’m not so keen on the look this time. I’ve always liked the Swift but this one seems to have grown a bit and it has a big butt.
PAUL: It’s looking that way because Suzuki has tried to improve the cabin space without making the car any bigger overall.
ALI: So, it’s now shorter but has a bigger footprint on the road. How does that work?
PAUL: They push the wheels out closer to the corners of the body panels. This time, Suzuki has also set the seats lower to keep the same headroom in a car with a lower roof for better wind resistance.
ALI: They say the seats are pushed slightly further apart for improved comfort, too, but we’ll see.
PAUL: I’m looking in the boot and I’m shocked. It’s where car companies hide their cost cutting and the costs have been slashed on this one.
ALI: That white styrofoam on the sides looks as if we’ve ordered something from China and it’s still in the original packaging. Other companies at least use black plastic so it blends in.
PAUL: It’s another of the cars where the seat backs don’t fold fully flat, which is one of my current niggles. You get a hump where the boot meets the seats, which makes it hard if you’re doing something like an Ikea run.
ALI: Otherwise it seems pretty good. It does feel pretty roomy inside for such a small car.
PAUL: I can’t help comparing this to the Ignis that we had a couple of weeks ago. This one seems more practical and the Ignis was a bit more fun.
ALI: There’s not much happening inside, with such a basic audio. There’s no display screen or reversing camera.
PAUL: It’s a good tactic to get people to spend more in the showroom.
ALI: We’ve got the basic GL manual and I really like the gearbox, which is smooth for someone who doesn’t usually drive a manual.
PAUL: I think it’s fun to drive. It’s only got a 1.2-litre engine, no turbo, but it’s still pretty quick and responsive. Being so light helps.
ALI: And the fuel economy is great. It could easily run for a couple of weeks without needing a servo.
ALI: It’s great to park. And it’s really easy to handle in traffic. The turning circle is one of the best we’ve had for a long time.
PAUL: It’s 9.6 metres, which Suzuki says is down from 10.4m. I also like the forward vision.
ALI: The back windows are not good and the roof pillar is wide at the back. It’s a car that should have a reversing camera, too.
PAUL: You’re right about the back end. ALI: The more I drive it, the more I realise this GL is the base model. I’m comparing it against the Kia Picanto, which costs less than the Swift and has more of everything.
PAUL: The Picanto is a fair bit smaller but Kia has really set the bar high for bargain buyers. I think it will be a Car of the Year contender.
ALI: In the Swift you have to jump up to the GL Navigator before you can get the safety pack, which adds $1200.
PAUL: But the Navigator model is still only $17,990, so for less than $20,000 you can get auto safety braking, lane-departure warning, auto high-beam and radar cruise control.
ALI: That’s not the point, you’re still being pushed up and up in the showroom. So it’s not $17,000 on the road.
PAUL: The Swift is still good fun and a lively drive in the countryside. It’s no sports car but it’s fine on twisty roads. It seems a little quieter than the previous model and the suspension works well for the class.
ALI: I like that we’re not bumping shoulders in the front and Eli seems comfy in the back.
ELI: I’m fine. But it’s pretty basic. Can I have my iPad now?
ALI: No. Look at the cows outside.
ALI: This car really isn’t pitched at us. You can tell by the pictures on the website that they’re after millennials.
PAUL: But it still works fine as a runabout. It would be good for a second car, or a family that has someone learning to drive.
ELI: Will I be driving it? I can already help to change gears if I’m sitting in the front.
PAUL: Not yet.
ONE TICK, NO TICK
PAUL: This looks like a split decision. I think it deserves The Tick for how well it drives. ALI: I like the way it drives but I wouldn’t recommend the GL — other cars have the same stuff for less money. So no tick for me.