The busy four cylinder engine lends a sporty note and it feels quieter in the cabin at highway speeds. Photo Gallery
Chris Riley road tests and reviews the Suzuki Swift.
It's only when you put the new Suzuki Swift side by side with the old one that the differences become apparent.
For that reason, we were surprised Suzuki did not have the previous model on hand at the Aussie launch of the all new Swift this week in Victoria.
We reckon a casual observer would have difficulty telling the two cars apart and this is probably no accident. Launched in 2004, the Swift has been a phenomenal success for the Japanese company and no one wanted to derail that train.
There's three models — GA, GL and top of the line GLX, with prices starting from $16,990 plus on roads. Standard equipment includes seven airbags which no doubt contribute to Swift's maximum five-star safety rating. Electronic stability control and anti-lock brakes with electronic brake forced distribution and brake assist are also standard.
In this respect, execs explained the company took a leaf out of BMW's book, opting for a minor, evolutionary changes in appearance, rather than a dramatic one. Looking at the figures, the new Swift is actually significantly bigger — 90mm longer to be exact — and stands 10mm taller too.
Distance between the axles has grown by 50mm which means more room inside. Bigger usually means heavier too and the new Swift tips the scales at 1025kg, about 45kg heavier despite a weight saving regime.
But, while the Swift has grown in physical dimensions, its engine has shrunk — from 1.5 to 1.4 litres. The good news is that it produces almost the same amount of power and torque as the unit it replaces, but uses less fuel in the process — a fact that will endear the car to many new drivers.
The 1.4-litre engine delivers 70kW of power and 130Nm of torque, compared to 74kW and 133Nm previously. A longer engine stroke and electronic throttle control contribute to better throttle response. The engine is paired with a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic.
We drove the mid-spec' GL with the five-speed auto and top of the line GLX with a five-speed manual. Enthusiasts will no doubt be drawn to the manual, but the auto while nothing flash makes a pretty good fist of it. GA and GL models have drum brakes on the rear, while the GLX adds four-wheel discs.
And the GLX gets reach as well as tilt adjustment for the steering wheel. Getting behind the wheel of the car for the first time, we were impressed with its big car feel. It's all hard plastics inside, but they are disguised well with changes in texture and colour.
A chunky leather clad steering wheel in the cars we drove sits nicely in the hands. Rear legroom is still tight. Cleverly, the height of the boot lip has been raised which means the bumper will absorb most if not all of the impact in a rear ender making the car cheaper to repair.
A space saver spare wheel is standard, hidden beneath a second false floor in the smallish boot. We gave the new Swift a good workout and can see why it is so popular. The busy four cylinder engine lends a sporty note and it feels quieter in the cabin at highway speeds.
Confident handling is supplemented by a stability system that will keep the car pointing in the right direction, even at over enthusiastic speeds. Suzuki is claiming a 13 per cent improvement in fuel consumption, down from 6.3 to 5.5 litres/100km for the manual, and from 6.6 to 6.2 litres/100km for the auto.
We got 6.5 from the manual and 7.8 from the auto in the course of the launch program. As good as it is, the Swift's tidy chassis deserves and could easily take more power, much more than offered by the current Sport edition (new one under development).
2011 SUZUKI SWIFT
Price: from $16,990
Warranty: 3 years/100,000km
Resale: 63% (est.)
Service interval: 12 months/15,000km
Economy: 5.5l/100km; 132g.km CO2
Safety: Equipment Seven airbags, ESP, ABS
Crash rating: Five stars
Engine: 1.4-litre petrol four 70kW/130Nm
Transmission: Five-speed manual, four-speed auto
Body: Five doors, five seats
Dimensions: 3850(L); 1695(W); 1510(H); 2430(WB) Weight 1025kg
Tyre Size: 165x65 R15
Spare tyre: Spacesaver