Three’s a treat for the all-new Suzuki Swift

The Horowhenua Mail - - OUT & ABOUT - DAMIEN O’CAR­ROLL

It would not be hard to make the case that the cur­rent Suzuki Swift is the most loved car on New Zealand roads. Af­ter all, it has been ex­tremely pop­u­lar for quite some time now and the buy­ers of th­ese perky lit­tle run­abouts cer­tainly adore them.

In fact, since the Swift’s launch in 2005 it has dom­i­nated its seg­ment, only be­ing beaten to the top spot by the Toy­ota Yaris in 2015. But it is not only the light seg­ment that the Swift dom­i­nates, it’s also the best sell­ing new car to pri­vate buy­ers by a sig­nif­i­cant mar­gin and that is not even count­ing the huge amount that have come into the coun­try as used im­ports.

In fact, Suzuki reck­ons NZ-new and used-im­port (the ma­jor­ity, nat­u­rally) Swifts com­bined ac­count for about 77,000 ve­hi­cles on our roads.

The Swift’s huge suc­cess does, how­ever, pose a prob­lem for Suzuki: how do you re­place a truly loved car?

The last new model that ap­peared in 2010 was a per­fect ex­am­ple of that strug­gle – Suzuki played it ex­tremely safe and didn’t mess with the for­mula. As a re­sult the new car looked very much like the pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion and changed very lit­tle.

But now, pos­si­bly em­bold­ened by the suc­cess of the Vi­tara and Ig­nis, Suzuki has taken the brave pills and given the all-new Swift a bold new look (ad­mit­tedly while still re­tain­ing a whole lot of fa­mil­iar Swift styling cues) and a range of new en­gines.

While the Swift does boast a new face and all-new styling, Suzuki has been rather clever and re­tained the Swift’s fa­mil­iar pro­file, mean­ing that while the new car looks dis­tinctly dif­fer­ent, it is also dis­tinctly recog­nis­able as a Swift as well.

The new Swift is slightly larger than the old car, but only ever-soslightly: 10mm in­crease in length, 20mm in­crease in wheel­base and a 40mm in­crease in width. Where it has use­fully grown, how­ever, is in the boot, with the new car’s 242 litres bet­ter­ing the old car by 32l.

The new Swift is on the same ‘‘Hear­t­ect’’ plat­form as the Baleno and Ig­nis and is as im­pres­sively light­weight as those two cars, weigh­ing in between 855kg and 925kg de­pend­ing on model, or around 135kg less than the old car.

Suzuki has taken ad­van­tage of this weight re­duc­tion to use a range of slightly less pow­er­ful, but torquier and more fru­gal en­gines in the new Swift. It will ini­tially come to New Zealand with a choice of two en­gines – a 66kW/120Nm 1.2-litre four­cylin­der petrol (the same one that is in the Ig­nis) in the GL and GLX mod­els and an 82kW/160Nm 1.0-litre three-cylin­der petrolturbo unit in the range-top­ping (for now) RS. There is of course a new Sport still to come.

The four-cylin­der en­gine is hooked up to a CVT trans­mis­sion, with a five-speed man­ual op­tion avail­able on the GL spec, but the three-cylin­der turbo is only avail­able with a six-speed au­to­matic.

Suzuki claims the GL and GLX with re­turn a com­bined fuel con­sump­tion fig­ure of 4.6 litres per 100km for the man­ual and 4.8l for the CVT. The 1.0-litre RS will re­turn 5.8l, but will only run on 95-RON petrol.

The GL kicks off the range at $19,990 for the man­ual and comes stan­dard with 15-inch steel wheels, cruise con­trol, a leather steer­ing wheel with satel­lite con­trols for the phone and au­dio sys­tem, rear pri­vacy glass, LED day­time run­ning lights and man­ual air con­di­tion­ing.

The GL CVT costs $21,990 and also adds satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion, a re­vers­ing cam­era and phone mir­ror­ing on a seven-inch touch screen.

The GLX is only avail­able with the CVT and costs $24,500. Along with the GL CVT model’s stan­dard spec, the GLX adds 16-inch al­loy wheels and Suzuki’s new dual sen­sor brake sup­port sys­tem that adds emer­gency au­ton­o­mous brak­ing, radar cruise con­trol, lane de­par­ture warn­ing and weav­ing alert.

The RS tops the range at $25,990 and along­side with the dif­fer­ent en­gine and trans­mis­sion adds pol­ished 16-inch al­loy wheels, key­less en­try and start, LED pro­jec­tor head­lights with au­to­matic high beam as­sist, a sixs­peaker au­dio sys­tem, elec­tric fold­ing door mir­rors and cli­mate con­trol.

On the road, the 1.0-litre RS we drove was a strong and will­ing per­former. The small en­gine does a bril­liant job of haul­ing the light­weight car along and pulls strongly from down low.

Nicely weighted and ac­cu­rate steer­ing is in keep­ing with the Swift’s fun and sporty per­sona, while the chas­sis is nicely re­spon­sive and nim­ble.

While the bolder styling may not ap­peal to ev­ery­one, the ex­tra in­te­rior room, high level of equip­ment of the money and, in the RS, at least, bril­liant lit­tle 1.0-litre en­gine should see the Swift main­tain its healthy lead in the sales charts.

While it still has some slight draw­backs that are hard to get away from in cars in this size and price range, it is still a re­mark­ably com­plete pack­age that also brings a healthy dose of fun and per­son­al­ity to the mix.

Styling is a lot more strik­ing than pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions. But it still couldn’t be any­thing other than a Swift.

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