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The Suzuki Swift was a mainstay of the first-new-car market, offering bulletproof reliability, good dynamics and, above all else, accessible pricing.
But then it went from mainstay to just staying. And staying. And staying. In fact, it barely changed between 2005 and 2011, and then changed only a little bit for what Suzuki called its “second generation”.
So, this 2017 all-new model is a pretty big deal. A new platform, new engines and new technology headline the dramatically overhauled Swift line-up, as Suzuki tries to stoke the fires of interest in one of its most enduring and important models.
|Suzuki Swift 2017: GLX Navigator|
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
It's gone a little cutesy, this new Swift, which does retain a fairly obvious family resemblance with the cars of old, just with some of harder edges rounded out.
The bonnet and grille have been smoothed over and widened, while the rear now looks a little more bulging in places, a little less sharp, than the old car. Hidden rear door handles, a tiny rear lip spoiler and some clever uses of black on the body all add a sense of style to the little Swift.
Inside, you can never truly forget you’re sitting in a cheap(ish) car - even in the more expensive models - where hard plastics line the doors and dash, though there are some nifty design elements to break up interior styling, especially in everything but the base model, where the black-framed touchscreen lifts the ambience in the cabin.
Every Swift model measures 3.8m long, 1.7m wide and 1.5m high, and while it’s a small car, clever packaging helps squeeze maximum practicality from it.
Front seat riders share two cupholders between them, which sit below a nifty-looking media centre that houses the power source and USB connection points, plus there’s room for bottles in the door pockets.
Climb into the back, and space is actually pretty good (well, head and legroom, at least. Things are still going to be tight if you choose to go three up in the back) but there’s not much else to crow about, save a single cupholder and room for a single bottle in each door.
Boot space is a listed at 242 litres, swelling to 947 litres should you drop the 60/40 split folding rear seat.
The entry-level Swift, the GL, is really only the best choice if you’re stretching to get into a new car at all, as not much more money will buy you a lot more Swift as you step through the range.
Stick with the GL ($16,990 drive-away), though, and you’ll get a leather-wrapped steering wheel, central-locking doors and manual air-conditioning, as well as fabric seats. Your in-car multimedia is basic, though, with just a letterbox screen and a CD player. Your wheels are 15-inch steel numbers, too.
Step up to the GL Navigator (and for just an extra $1000 - $17,990 drive-away - you definitely should), and you’ll get a standard CVT, as well as proper 16-inch alloy wheels. The tech stuff improves astronomically, too, with an Apple CarPlay/Android Auto-equipped 7.0-inch touchscreen and standard satellite navigation.
Another $1500 ($19,490 drive-away) will buy you the GL Navigator Safety Pack. Which adds some critical safety equipment that we’ll drill down on in the safety sub-heading.
Finally, the $22,990 (drive-away) GLX Turbo wraps up the range, adding a clever new gearbox and engine, better 16-inch alloys, climate-controlled air con and LED headlights with a dusk-sensing function.
You get what you pay for here, with the GL, GL Navigator and GL Navigator with Safety Pack all sharing the same 1.2-litre petrol engine, while the most expensive GLX Turbo scores a smaller-but-smarter turbocharged 1.0-litre unit.
The 1.2-litre petrol engine is a four-cylinder number that will produce 66kW at 6000rpm and 120Nm at 4400rpm. It’s paired with a five-speed manual in only the entry-level Swift, and a CVT auto in the GL Navigator and Safety Pack models.
Your other option, though, is Suzuki’s popular three-cylinder 'Boosterjet' engine, a tiny turbocharged unit that will produce 82kW at 5500rpm and 160Nm at 1500rpm. It pairs with a different automatic transmission, ditching the CVT in favour of a six-speed torque converter.
The 1.2-litre unit is claimed to consume 4.6L/100km on the combined fuel economy cycle in manual guise, with that number climbing to 4.8L/100km with the CVT. Emissions of CO2 are a claimed 106g/km (manual) and 110g/km (automatic).
The Boosterjet engine is actually the thirstier choice, sipping a claimed 5.1L/100km for the combined cycle, with emissions pegged at 119g/km.
All Swifts arrive with a 37-litre fuel tank.
It’s lighter than before (tipping the scales at a featherweight 870kg to 915kg, depending on the trim level), and with a new architecture to boot, there’s lots to like about the Swift’s in-town capability.
The Swift has a long-standing reputation for being among the most dynamic offerings in its class, and this new version happily continues that tradition.
It’s impossibly easy to park, the steering is light and the suspension is firm enough to feel connected to the road while still soaking up (most) surface issues. The vision is great, too, while the in-cabin tech in all but the cheapest model will score plenty of points with the Swift’s target customers.
Venture out of town, though, and the Swift can feel like an out-of-water fish, lacking the grunt required to confidently overtake and requiring plenty of downward force on the accelerator to summit anything steeper than the driveway.
But the Swift is made for the urban jungle, and in that context, it makes a lot of sense. Well, it does in everything from the GL Navigator up. You’d have to think that stripping multimedia options from the entry-level car will make it as popular with Gens Y and Z as a rotary-dial smartphone.
3 years / 100,000 km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
Each and every Swift model arrives with front, front-side and curtain airbags, along with ABS brakes and traction aids, but the safety offering climbs drastically from there.
While the entry-level GL misses out on a reversing camera (a significant oversight), the GL Navigator gets one, along with standard cruise control. Spring for the Safety Pack or the GLX Turbo and you’ll add AEB, Lane Departure Warning and adaptive cruise control.
The Swift hasn’t undergone local crash testing, but was awarded four (out of five) stars when tested by Europe’s crash-testing authority, EuroNCAP.
The Swift is lagging behind its Korean competitors in terms of warranty, serving up a three-year/100,000km warranty and six-month/10,000km service intervals.
Suzuki’s capped-price servicing program limits the cost for the first three services to $175 each, but you’ll find pricing increases from there.
Cheap and cheerful, sure, but how cheap or how cheerful depends on which trim level you opt for. For ours, the GL Navigator Safety Pack is the pick here, offering a strong mix of technology and safety equipment without breaking the budget.
|GL||1.4L, ULP, 5 SP MAN||$7,900 – 12,210||2017 Suzuki Swift 2017 GL Pricing and Specs|
|GL (qld)||1.2L, ULP, 5 SP MAN||$9,100 – 13,750||2017 Suzuki Swift 2017 GL (qld) Pricing and Specs|
|GL Navi (qld)||1.2L, ULP, CVT AUTO||$9,800 – 14,740||2017 Suzuki Swift 2017 GL Navi (qld) Pricing and Specs|
|GL Navigator||1.4L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO||$8,800 – 13,310||2017 Suzuki Swift 2017 GL Navigator Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||8|
|Engine & trans||7|