Made to drive far on little
SHAY KALIK moves swiftly along in a car that guys in ‘rokkies’ like a lot
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.
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.