Suzuki recently hosted automotive press for the national launch of their mid-cycle refresh of their best-selling Swift model. We spent the morning venturing around in the new compact hatchback along some of Gauteng’s country roads to see if this car had #alltherightfeels.
The Swift has been one of Suzuki’s best selling vehicles since its inception 17 years ago and retains this title with their third generation iteration. After 3 years on the market, with sales commencing in 2018, the current model has undergone an extremely minor face-lift with subtle changes on the exterior and interior. What hasn’t changed is that it remains the same frugal, compact and fun value-for-money car that it was when the range was originally conceived in 2004.
While this update may be regarded as completely minor and even unidentifiable to certain consumers, it includes some aesthetic updates which should entice the young-at-heart. This comes primarily in the form of updated exterior colours, including two-tone options on the upper-range GLX models and more bling up front with a chrome strip that divides the number plate and Suzuki logo. New 15” alloy wheels sit on all four corners of the car although the more affordable base models still feature steelies with hubcaps.
The other important updates that are included into the range are even less visible to the eye but enhance the safety and overall driving experience. The inclusion of rear parking sensors and electronic stability control (ESC) across the range add to the growing list of standard features on this affordable competitor. A useful reverse camera is also included on the GLX models while hill-start assist is standard on the automated manual transmission derivatives.
The inner workings of the Swift remain completely unchanged, with the surprisingly punchy 1.2-litre engine from before still delivering 61kW and 113Nm. While this number is rather low by today’s standards for naturally aspirated motors, its feather weight of 950kg justifies the low displacement and figures. What this affords the driver with is a combined fuel consumption as low as 4.9l/l00km which remains one of its primary selling points (although we achieved just higher than that on our short test).
Not once did the car feel lacking in power, nipping from robot to robot with ease yet still comfortable enough to drop a gear and overtake on highways and single lane roads. The only gripe came with the lack of a 6th gear in the manual derivatives for highway driving. While the gearbox is tremendously smooth and tactile to change in both sedate and enthusiastic driving scenarios, sitting above 3000rpm at the national highway speed limit could have been better optimized.
Over its 17 year lifespan, the Swift has retained its iconic silhouette and compact stature. The third generation has evolved design features to create a more cohesive, sleek bodywork which includes concealed rear door handles and more compact wing mirrors. While the steep, angular rake of the A-pillar makes it easily distinguishable to the dozens of other competitors in the segment, you do get mild wind noises emanating from the feature which exacerbates exponentially the faster you begin to go.
The inside of the Swift retains the same spacious cabin for passengers and the driver from before. While boot capacity is a great improvement from its precursor, its meagre 265-litres of volume fall short and are nowhere near class leading. While some questionable Maruti made build quality issues can be subtly found, the cabin remains a pleasant place to be. The 7” infotainment system forms the focal point of the central fascia while lower end derivatives are less equipped with modern tech. Android Auto or Apple CarPlay connectivity are easily accessible via the infotainment system and enable the latest music or podcasts to be blasted through the sound system of the GLX with relative ease. A reverse camera is neatly concealed within the back bumper but has limited height visibility because of this.
Prior to driving, I was worried that the naturally aspirated motor would be grossly underpowered. While other markets have the more powerful 1.0 litre turbo motor on sale, Suzuki SA have justified their decision for the not bringing the more powerful variant in for its added expense which would place it just just below the R336 000 Swift Sport, undercutting the compact hot hatch and ultimately removing the affordability factor of the car. Speaking of which, the range of GA, GL and GLX models span between an affordable R180 900 for the GA all the way through to R234 900 for the well equipped GLX AMT with the standard inflationary increases from its precursor. All prices include a 5-year/100 000 km promotional warranty and 2-year/30 000 km service plan.
After a stellar year of sales in 2020 and a continually growing dealership network, it is well expected that models like the Swift and Toyota joint venture Vitara Brezza will continue to usher in this upward trend and be at the forefront of sales in 2021.
The updated Swift in conclusion remains exactly what you would expect of it: a frugal, nippy and affordable city slicker. With the competitive budget hatchback category, few others have the impressive track record of 7.5 million global sales and counting (since inception) and it is easy to see why!