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At first glance you’d be forgiven for thinking the new Suzuki was all about smoke and mirrors. See, this second-generation Swift looks just like the old one. But get the tape measure out and it’s a different story.
The new Swift is longer, taller, and the wheelbase has grown by about 40mm, but it retains that unmistakable Swift look of old. And as with that Swift, Suzuki has managed to keep the starting price at 2005 levels, listing it for $15,990.
Powering the latest Swift is an all-new 1.4-litre engine, replacing the older, larger 1.5-litre four-cylinder. The smaller engine produces 70kW (down 4kW) and torque has dropped by 3Nm to 130Nm. Importantly, though, the new car is a whopping 13 per cent more fuel efficient than the outgoing model (5.5L/100km manual). And C02 emissions are down too.
The new design is structurally stronger than the old model and has seven airbags and electronic stability control, which is standard across the range. As a result, the new Swift receives a five-star ANCAP safety rating.
There are three models in the new line-up, and Suzuki has delved into its past to revive the entry-level GA model name. The GA, priced at $15,990, is available in manual transmission only. Next in line, the mid-spec GL, starts at $16,690 (the four-speed auto version has a $1700 premium). The flagship is the GLX. The manual GLX is priced at $18,990, while the auto version breaks the $20K barrier at $20,690. The Swift Sport has been dropped.
The GA comes standard with air-conditioning, power steering, power windows and external mirrors, remote central locking, and a four-speaker AM/FM/CD audio system. As well as the abovementioned safety features, the GA gets anti-lock brakes with EBD and brake assist.
This new Swift is 45kg heavier than the old model when fitted with the manual transmission. Back in 2005, when we drove the first-generation Swift, our testing revealed it wasn’t particularly quick (18.3secs for 0-400m), and this new model, after a brief test drive, isn’t likely to break any new ground in the performance stakes.
Ticking along under 3000rpm this new engine feels flat, but from 4000rpm through to the 6000rpm redline it feels much more athletic. We had a quick spin in the GL fitted with an automatic transmission and the four-speed auto works beautifully with the new engine. The transmission ratios appear nicely suited to the engine and the heavier body.
The new model retains the old car’s above-average ride and handling characteristics, a feature that’s made the Swift such a popular choice among buyers seeking more than just A-B transport. The steering rack has been designed to provide quick initial turn-in when cornering while still maintaining a nice, linear feel.
The MacPherson strut front suspension and rear torsion beam setup do a nice job of insulating occupants from road irregularities without feeling too spongy. There’s some lean when cornering hard, but the chassis never feels overwhelmed; indeed it could easily cope with more power.
On the inside, the new Swift lacks the ‘wow’ factor of some of its competitors. It’s a safe interior, with a simple layout and nice easy-to-read dials, although the base GA lacks an engine tacho. Weird.
There’s plenty of adjustability in the seat and steering (especially with the top-spec GLX which features tilt and reach adjustment) and so finding a good driving position is a cinch. It was refreshing to see that the new Swift’s ‘slimline’ pillars didn’t interfere with forward vision when cornering (plenty of its competitors have thick front pillars you’ve got to physically look around). Indeed, forward and rear vision is above average as are the larger external mirrors.
The designers mightn’t have had much room to play with but still managed to eke out some extra space when compared with the old car. For instance, the backs of the front seats have been ‘scalloped’ to gain 30mm additional leg room, and under the rear seat they have managed to increase foot space by the same amount as well. Luggage space in the rear looks to be about the same, although the new rear design has made the load lip appreciably higher than the old.
Besides the engine everything has been upsized in the new Swift – it looks like an inflated version of the old car. Some will say the new Swift is too much like the old car. So what? The original is still a great car, outselling many of its contemporaries by a factor of two to one.
So yes, this new Swift might be more of the same from Suzuki. But if it ain’t broke…
|Body type||5-door hatchback|
Base model lacks reach steering adjustment
|Safety equipment||Seven airbags, ESC, ABS, 5 star ANCAP rating|
|Country of manufacture||Japan|
|Available from||February 2011|
|Number of cylinders||4|
|Engine size||1.4 L|
|Claimed max power (kW)||70 kW @ 6000 rpm|
|Claimed max torque (Nm)||130 Nm @ 4000 rpm|
|Claimed fuel consumption||5.5 L/100km|
|CO2 Emissions||132 g/km|