Driven - - Contents - Re­port by DEON VAN DER WALT | Im­age © SUZUKI SOUTH AFRICA

Tick­ing all the right boxes

Since its world in­tro­duc­tion in the early 1980s, more than six mil­lion Suzuki Swifts have found new homes glob­ally. Sure, it’s not the world’s best-ever sell­ing ve­hi­cle, but this fig­ure at­tests to Suzuki’s abil­ity to build the kind of car that peo­ple want. Now, though, the car­maker has launched a new one, and DEON VAN DER WALT sam­pled it to find out if it lives up to the Swift name­plate.

Usu­ally, there are three in­di­vid­ual fac­tors taken into con­sid­er­a­tion when­ever the car-buy­ing bug starts to bite. They are; rub­ber-neck­ing charm, brand per­cep­tion, and near-bul­let­proof built qual­ity.

Of­ten, buy­ers only re­quire one of these boxes to be checked, and if there are any over­lap­ping ar­eas— that’s just a bonus.

So, how does the new Swift fare then?


Well, to be frank, South Africans tend to grav­i­tate to­ward other Ja­panese man­u­fac­tur­ers like Toy­ota and Nis­san thanks to the broader ranges of ve­hi­cles these man­u­fac­tur­ers of­fer. As a re­sult, Suzuki of­ten gets over­looked.

The new Swift, though, tack­les this per­cep­tion prob­lem head-on by of­fer­ing the kind of value for money that makes it easy to for­get that the Swift is built, and priced, to be a bud­get B-seg­ment con­tender.

Then, there’s the qual­ity of build fac­tor, and here the Swift gets an ap­prov­ing tick in its box. On the launch route near Dur­ban, an over­sight on the map re­sulted in us miss­ing the cru­cial in­struc­tion to brake for a meaty speed bump. It was well con­cealed un­der fallen sug­ar­canes and re­sulted in a loud thump and some lan­guage un­suited for print­ing in this mag­a­zine. Surely some­thing was bro­ken, though, just judg­ing by the loud wal­lop. But nope, the lit­tle Zook just shrugged it off and sol­diered on­wards.


Oddly, Suzuki man­aged to defy the space­time par­a­digm with a smaller model that pro­vides even more space. The new model is 10 mm shorter and 40 mm wider than the out­go­ing model. How­ever, while it’s a full cen­time­tre shorter, the in­te­rior space has been sub­stan­tially in­creased, to the ex­tent that there’s am­ple space for us loftier driv­ers in the back, even with a front-to-back seat­ing com­par­i­son.

How is this pos­si­ble? Well, Suzuki clev­erly in­creased the length of the wheel­base by 20 mm, while com­pen­sat­ing for this by short­en­ing the front and rear over­hangs. It’s that sim­ple.


Both the Swift and its sta­ble­mate Dzire (now a stand­alone name­plate) re­tains the 61 kW and 113 Nm 1.2-litre nat­u­rally as­pi­rated en­gine and yes, on pa­per, it looks to be some­what unin­spired. How­ever, give it some right-footed en­cour­age­ment, and it’s bound to im­press thanks to a power-toweight ra­tio of 70 kW per tonne. While some of the kilo­watt-thrills can be at­trib­uted to the oxy­gen-rich Dur­ban air, we’re con­fi­dent it won’t lose too much zest at Reef al­ti­tude.

It’s much the sameness on the torque-front; while its fullest po­ten­tial is only ac­ces­si­ble at 4,200 r/min, the Swift also has plenty of turn­ing and twist­ing grunt lower down the rev spec­trum.


The Suzuki Swift is priced from R159,900 for the base GA model while our pick, the GL, comes with a price tag of R175,900. It can also be had in an auto de­riv­a­tive that costs a rather pricey R189,900.

You might ask, how about that afore­men­tioned car-buy­ing fac­tors? Well, in the brand per­cep­tion de­part­ment, the Swift and its Dzire sib­ling have the po­ten­tial to change this for the bet­ter. Its built qual­ity is as tough-as-nails, and to com­plete the tri­fecta, it has a cer­tain charm about it. It’s not ob­vi­ous at first, but look hard enough and you will see it’s there.

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