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.
SMALL OUTSIDE, GENEROUS INSIDE
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.
STILL A TINY ENGINE
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.