Made to drive far on lit­tle

SHAY KALIK moves swiftly along in a car that guys in ‘rokkies’ like a lot

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING -

IN Ja­pan, they know a thing or two about mak­ing small cars. In fa­mously fru­gal Scot­land, real men wear rokkies and know all about sav­ing money. In In­dia, car ad­verts are not based on the 0-100 dash, but their cents per kilo­me­tre run­ning costs.

In all three of these coun­tries, the new Suzuki Swift is a win­ner. The hatch won the Re­searchers and Jour­nal­ists Con­fer­ence (RJC) Car of the Year award in Ja­pan; the Com­pact Car of the Year in Scot­land and by the time you fin­ish read­ing this, chances are they’ve sold another Swift in In­dia, where a new Suzuki is sold ev­ery three min­utes.

The new Swift was also named a top three fi­nal­ist of the World Ur­ban Car of the Year, so you can imag­ine I moved, well, swiftly when I got a chance to drive the new hatch at its lo­cal launch at Bal­lito last week.

Al­ready avail­able at Suzuki in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg, the new Swift fol­lows in the tread marks of over 19 000 units from the pre­vi­ous model years.

An­dré Venter, divi­sional man­ager for sales and mar­ket­ing at Suzuki Auto South Africa, said judg­ing by how swiftly the new model is sell­ing abroad, he be­lieves the Swift will con­tinue to de­light driv­ers in Msanzi too.

When it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, which is why Isuzu kept the K12M en­gine from the pre­vi­ous model. My me­chanic mates tell me this en­gine is bul­let­proof and as light on fuel as you are with the right foot, right?

For those who want to know how, a com­pres­sion ra­tio of 11:1 — high for a small petrol en­gine — makes the fuel burn bet­ter, so you use less.

The four over-stroked pis­tons make 113 Nm at 4 200 rpm, en­abling slow driv­ing in third gear. And get­ting out of first and sec­ond gear is how one saves fuel, as any­one with a car that shows real time con­sump­tion can tell you. Peak power is 61 kW at a high 6 000 revs.

You will have to flat­ten the ac­cel­er­a­tor to extract the full po­ten­tial of the ve­hi­cles en­gine and on the Highveld’s thin air, the added mass of just one pas­sen­ger will make a marked dif­fer­ence in per­for­mance of this nor­mally as­pi­rated en­gine.

Very few Swift buy­ers will want to go faster. In­stead, Venter fully ex­pects them to im­prove on the Swift’s official fuel con­sump­tion of 4,9 litres per 100 km. This means Swift driv­ers will aim to get 20 km from ev­ery litre in a com­bined cy­cle, or 750 km from the 37-litre tank. For most com­muters, this will mean fill­ing up ev­ery sec­ond month to get to work. And when get­ting into fifth gear (in ei­ther the auto or man­ual box) en route to the hol­i­day des­ti­na­tion, they will travel even fur­ther on a tank, which is the whole aim of this ve­hi­cle — to go fur­ther on ev­ery cent. A tight turn­ing cir­cle means easy park­ing too.

Three model de­riv­a­tives are on sale in SA, start­ing at just un­der R160k. To put in per­spec­tive how low this is, at the Fury Suzuki dealer in Mar­itzburg, R160k can also buy you a Honda Brio or — down the road at Nissan — the Mi­cra. Both of these su­per minis are smaller than the Swift, which comes with air­con, front and rear elec­tric win­dows, ABS with EBD, Isofix child seat an­chors and two airbags. The GL adds a mul­ti­func­tion steer­ing wheel and a rear lug­gage cover in­side and colour coded bits out­side.

All mod­els are sold with Suzuki’s ac­claimed five-year or 200 000 km me­chan­i­cal war­ranty and a two-year or 30 000 km ser­vice plan.

PHOTO: MOTORPRESS

The new Suzuki Swift takes on all ri­vals in the R160k range with a prom­ise to go 20 km on a litre of petrol and the proven re­li­a­bil­ity of its K12M petrol en­gine.

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