Wow, what a great little car.
Suzuki might have fallen off the radar in Australia during recent years but
the all-new Swift looks certain to mark its return. This is a car with a
breakthrough feel to it.
The first aspect of the Swift that strikes you is its appearance. With
obvious design cues from the current Mini and various other European cars, this
is a 5-door hatchback that looks much more up-market that its price tag would
suggest. The lines are clean and bold and the high waistline is copied straight
from prestige manufacturers. The Swift S version (as tested) also brings
fog lights and attractive 15 inch alloy wheels. It’s a car with terrific
And those good vibes keep coming when you venture onto the bitumen.
The Swift feels and drives like a larger car. With a relatively long
wheelbase and wide track, the Swift is stable and surefooted. Suzuki has also managed to squeeze in plenty of
suspension travel so the ride is always compliant – it very rarely reaches its
limit and bottoms out. The cabin, too, is stiff and the light-closing doors shut
with a quiet thunk.
Under the bonnet is a 1.5 litre engine, similar to that found in the go-fast
Suzuki Ignis Sport. Coded M15A, this 4-cylinder boasts a DOHC, 16 valve head
with VVT and generates 75kW at 6000 rpm and 133Nm at 4000 rpm. Note that the S
version has no more power than the entry-level Swift. The engine feels a bit
sluggish below 4000 rpm, but get it spinning and it’s a willing performer – this
is an engine with plenty of character.
The standard gearbox is a 5-speed manual. Overall, it’s a decent gearbox, but
it does have a relatively heavy shift action and excessive gear noise. The
clutch also takes some getting used to. It engages a long way off the floor and
lacks progression - we stalled the engine more times than we care to admit...
Weighing just over 1000kg, the Swift S 5-speed is easy to accelerate off the
line and has no problem keeping up with traffic. We easily matched Suzuki’s
claim of 10.0 second 0 – 100 km/h performance.
In mainly urban conditions, our test Swift returned around 8 litres per 100km
fuel consumption – average for the size of the car. We would expect a
slightly better figure given more sedate driving.
But, if you’re anything like us, you won’t be bothered about driving to
achieve optimal fuel consumption – this is a car that begs to be driven.
In fact, the harder you drive it, the more you’ll enjoy it.
Partly thanks to its generous track and wheelbase dimensions, the new Swift
is very stable during cornering. Turn-in is linear and intuitive (no need for
last-minute corrections) and you can hold your intended cornering line without
concern. Lift off the throttle during cornering and the rear-end gently
transitions into oversteer – but only given plenty of corner speed and dynamic
weight transfer. Outright grip levels are exceptionally high from the standard
185/60 15 Bridgestone Potenza RE080s.
Our only criticism is the slight jumpiness of the torsion beam rear axle -
yes, the Swift gets a beam axle together with MacPherson front struts. The
damping is also a tad too soft for eager driving.
The Swift’s power-assisted rack and pinion steering is responsive,
linear and well weighted. This wonderful steering helps ‘make’ the on-road
feel of the car. The brakes use an interesting combination of old and new
technology. Ventilated discs are fitted to the front, but the rear receives
old-fashioned drums. These contrast with the ABS, EBD and brake assist systems,
which give excellent stopping power and control.
Inside, the Swift exudes the air of more expensive car.
The cabin is decked out with surprisingly high quality trims and materials
and everything follows a clear, logical design – there’s nothing gimmicky. The
main instruments – speedo, tacho, fuel and temp gauges – are traditional style
gauges while there’s a centre LCD display for time, ambient temperature and
instantaneous fuel consumption. It all works very well.
All Australian-spec Swifts are equipped with standard air conditioning, dual
airbags, electric windows, 6 speaker CD/tuner and a quality leather steering
wheel - there are even audio controls on the steering wheel, though these don’t
have any night-time illumination. The quality of the sound system is impressive, though the rear speakers sound muddy when biased in that direction.
The Swift S adds front and rear curtain airbags and seat-mounted side airbags
for a total of 8 airbags. Impressive.
Interior space is generous for front and rear passengers. Head, knee and foot
space are very good, although there isn’t enough space for the driver to rest
their left foot. Some passengers also commented the rear backrest is too
Unfortunately, some people might struggle with the relatively limited cargo
area - the Swift can’t swallow a weekly shopping load without utilising a hook
on the back of the front passenger seat and filling the rear foot wells. The
60/40 split backrest folds forward and the seat base tumbles forward to create a
reasonably large cargo floor. However, it must be said that the rear seat tumble
design is not as polished as, say, a Mazda 2 or Honda Jazz.
But, then, the Suzuki isn’t as expensive...
The base Swift retails from just AUD$15,990 and the S version with alloys,
extra airbags and fog lights (as tested) checks in at AUD$17,990. If you can
afford it, we reckon you’d be silly not to opt for the S version.
This AUD$17,990 figure compares very well with its rivals – some of which
become quite expensive when you start adding extra airbags and other optional
Interestingly, Suzuki seems to have spent a lot of time focussing on the
build quality of ‘regular traffic’ areas of the Swift – the areas that most
drivers would notice during their day to day use. The switchgear, handles, door
closing and touch surfaces (such as the steering wheel and gear knob) are very
well finished. But dig a bit further and you’ll see this quality doesn’t extend
throughout the vehicle. The bonnet release lever feels cheap, as does the bonnet
support, there’s no grab handle for the false floor in the cargo area and we
question the durability of the plastic window surrounds. Our test car also had
an annoying rattle from the passenger side B pillar.
Suzuki presently offers a 3 year/100,000km warranty on its vehicles, which
falls short of some other manufacturers. We’d like to see an extended
transferable warranty (to help maintain resale value) and then we’d be 100
percent confident recommending the Swift S to anyone.
But, even as it stands, this really is a must-drive.
Where’s the GTi Version?
With a great little new Swift in the Suzuki stable, you may be wondering
where the go-fast GTi version is hiding...
Well, our research reveals that the M15A engine fitted to local models is
already the most potent engine currently in the worldwide line-up. Other
markets also receive the base 1.3 litre non-VVT version. Note, however, the M15A
engine is tuned to deliver 83kW and 143Nm in the Ignis Sport (an extra 8kW and
10Nm) when running 98 RON fuel. It is possible that similar upgrades will be
carried over to create a swifter Swift.
You might also be interested that there’s a 3-door version being sold
overseas, as well as a 4WD, direct-injection turbo diesel and an ‘automated 5
We’re seeing only the tip of the iceberg!