New Suzukis turn back the clock

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In those hal­cyon days of open beaches and when we all just about lived on the dunes, East­ern Cape’s beaches were fa­mous for VW Bee­tle-based bug­gies, and the odd ex­pen­sive 4x4 dou­ble cab – but, mostly, for a diminu­tive 4x4 Suzuki that proved per­fect for sea-sand work – and the great fish­ing that went with it.

That was the first and only four-wheel Suzuki in SA then – among all the Suzi su­per­bikes – and it made a good name for it­self, be­ing a tough two-per­son fun car that stood up well to the bump and grind of beach work – and rust.

Now we have a handy range of Suzuki com­pacts in SA, mem­bers of which are equally nuggety and as char­ac­ter-filled as were those pi­o­neer­ing lit­tle 4x4s.

Here, I am look­ing at the new Swift hatch­back GL, a wannabe, young and sporty five-door, and the sedan, Dzire GL, with a rather more sub­stan­tial boot, more for fam­ily af­fairs.

Ex­cept for the 1,2-litre driv­e­train, the two in this dou­ble-header road test are very dif­fer­ent, sat­is­fy­ing dif­fer­ent mo­tor­ing needs. But both are “Hon­est In­jun” lit­tle ma­chines – no tur­bos and no over-com­pli­ca­tion.

No jok­ing ei­ther, these re­vamped Suzukis are, in­deed, built in In­dia and fully im­ported. I have to ad­mit that I thus paid ex­tra at­ten­tion to build qual­ity of both test cars, at the thought of this.

I need not have wor­ried, as Suzuki keeps a close watch on qual­ity mat­ters at its three In­dian man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ties, and these were as good as any­thing right out of Ja­pan, with tight body panel cut lines and all-round solid feel. Fact is, all the Suzukis have scored very well in Euro­pean stan­dard NCAP crash test ex­er­cises. This says much for their de­sign and build in­tegrity.

The dou­ble over­head camshaft four-cylin­der mo­tor and five-speed man­ual gear­box are com­mon to both of these cars. Out­put from the 1 197cc unit is 61 kW at 6,000 r/min and 113 Nm of torque at 4,200 r/min.

I felt they are nicely geared for bread- and-but­ter mo­tor­ing at sea level, and top speed is 175 km/h and zero to 100 km/h ac­cel­er­a­tion is 12 sec­onds.

These are not earth-shat­ter­ing per­for­mances, but it’s com­fort­ing in that fuel econ­omy is more a pri­or­ity and both reg­is­tered fru­gal fuel us­age of around the 5,3 l/100km mark un­der nor­mal driv­ing con­di­tions. That’s mainly be­cause the up­dated ver­sions are some 75kg lighter than pre­vi­ously, and new en­gine man­age­ment tweaks now come in to play. Both ma­chines are nim­ble and light to drive and, thanks mainly to a tight turn­ing cir­cle of only 4,8 m, are highly ma­noeu­vrable for park­ing.

The spruced-up Swift has a new grille shape called “polyg­o­nal” by Suzuki, and front bumper de­sign, while the Dzire, ad­di­tion­ally, has a new head­light clus­ter and rear bumper shape. No alu­minium al­loy wheels to be seen, but the steel, 15-inch rims do have full-size wheel cov­ers.

The Swift is now 10 mm shorter and 40 mm wider, yet in­side space has been en­hanced with this hatch­back in that the rear seat up­right is split 60-40 for ac­cess through to the boot for fit­ting awk­ward ob­jects, while there is oo­dles more rear seat legroom – ad­di­tional 55 mm – in the four-door Dzire, for tall folk.

Lanky in­di­vid­u­als will also ap­pre­ci­ate that re­mark­able head­room is pro­vided in both mod­els. Uphol­stery in the Swift can be termed prac­ti­cal, while the Dzire’s was a smarter, black-hued cloth ma­te­rial.

Con­sid­er­ing the rea­son­able price tags, R177,900 for the Swift GL and R178,900 for the Dzire GL, I ap­pre­ci­ated the steer­ing wheel con­trols for the au­dio sys­tem, tilt-ad­justable steer­ing col­umn and the elec­tri­cally ad­justable side mir­rors.

These items nor­mally come in only more ex­pen­sive mod­els, as do the au­dio sys­tem with Blue Tooth

You can se­lect from six dif­fer­ent colour schemes – five of them bet­ter than the drab “Sher­wood Brown” colour of our Dzire test car. Brown cars are not my favourite – pfffft. So, an­other car was pho­tographed for our pur­poses.

This duo is backed by Suzuki’s five-year/200,000km me­chan­i­cal war­ranty and its two-year/30,000km ser­vice plan.

Oh, and get­ting back to where it all started, there is a re­cently launched lit­tle Suzuki, now called Jimny, 4x4 that’s said to closely fol­low the rep­utable act of the 20-year-old ones.

HEART’S DE­SIRE: The new Suzuki Dzire is no longer a Swift clone. It’s now a stand-alone model with its own prac­ti­cal fea­tures, in­clud­ing more in­te­rior space and a big boot

COST SAV­ING: The per­for­mance might not be earth-shat­ter­ing on the new Suzuki Swift but fuel con­sump­tion of 5.31/100km makes it fru­gal

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