Design and Engineering

Design and Engineering

Good This current generation Swift, the fourth generation in Suzuki Australia’s supermini history which traces back to 1983, arrived in Australia in February 2011. Underneath the ‘look closely or you’ll miss it’ redesign, this Swift sits on an all new platform. The chassis is lighter and stronger than the previous model. It is also a little bigger – length is up by 9cm, and the wheelbase (space between the front and rear wheels) has grown four centimetres allowing for more interior space. Each body panel is new and different to its predecessor, yet the overall shape continues. We’re long time fans of the chunky, high waist looks, black coloured A-pillars and Suzuki have thankfully opted for an evolutionary, if somewhat conservative, redesign. The bigger, more elongated headlights, a grille which cuts into the bonnet more predominantly, and at the rear new tail lights and bumper styling would be easily overlooked if not familiar with it, but the clear and red tail-light clusters look significantly more modern than the previous models all-red finish.
Not so good The similarity of the design to the previous model might equate to the styling aging quicker over its estimated six year life cycle than if Suzuki had opted for a more adventurous or different shape.
Interior and Styling

Interior and Styling

Good The new Swift’s more contemporary and interesting interior design is enhanced by a roomy cabin in which to enjoy it and a comfortable driving position, the 50mm extension on the wheel base allowing for more legroom in the front and second row. The GLX grade features a lovely, leather-finished three spoke steering wheel that adjusts for both rake (up and down) and reach (in and out). The seat materials are comfortable and look good, and the driver’s dials are lent a touch of class by a glassy finish. The fit and finish is of good, durable plastic, if it is a little below premium in appearance. A big centre console bin, roomy bottle holders in each door, and the usual glove box make for a good level of convenience. The Swift Sport sits at the top of the range and with good reason. The cabin features high bolstered sport bucket seats that make you feel snug. They are a combination of black and grey cloth and have exposed red stitching that further enhance the sporty feel of the interior. The red stitching also makes its way onto the the gear shifter sleeve and three spoke steering wheel.
Not so good The interior lacks soft-touch plastics, and dash material is of the hard variety, and although this is the norm in this price sensitive segment a softer touch would be appreciated. This Swift’s dash design is also arguably less distinctive than the previous model and the interior is overly grey and black in colour, with only silver coloured plastic lifting the gloom a little. GA and GL grades steering wheel misses out on reach (in and out adjustment) and this is felt by the driver. Head room for second row passengers is only average and the narrow side glass minimises visibility for children. A small boot of only 200 odd litres with the rear seats in use limits storage convenience and unfortunately the rear seats don’t fold fully flat, but it does result in cargo capacity growth to almost 900 litres.
Performance

Performance

Good The previous generation Swift’s 1.5-litre 4-cylinder petrol engine which produced 74kW of power and 133Nm of torque has made way for a more economical 1.4-litre engine (still 4-cylinder and petrol powered) which produces 70kW and 130Nm. The official combined fuel economy figure for the five-speed manual fitted Swift is now 5.5 litres/100kms (previous model was 6.3L/100kms) – a noteworthy improvement no doubt. Meanwhile the Swift Sport is powered by a larger 1.6-litre in-line four cylinder petrol engine that produces 100kW of power and 160Nm of torque when matched to a 6-speed manual transmission (7-speed CVT option). The official combined fuel economy figure for the six-speed manual fitted Swift Sport is 6.5-litres per 100kms and 6.1-litres for the CVT equipped Swift Sport. The biggest difference when driving the new Swift is how much quieter the engine is, especially at highway speeds. This one still likes to be revved though, and towards the upper limit of the rev range it becomes noticeably more responsive to your right foot’s demands.
Not so good At low revs the engine feels a little less than energetic – we’ll put it down to the only average levels of torque on offer. Also, thanks to the extra levels of safety equipment and features fitted to this generation Swift, overall body weight has increased slightly over the outgoing model. The 7-speed CTV unit really doesn't do the 1.6-litre engine found in the Swift Sport justice, we say the manual is the way to go. Over hilly terrain the 1.4-litre engine’s lack oomph at low revs can expose the four speed transmission’s lack of gear ratios.
Ride and Handling

Ride and Handling

Good Refined, compliant ride is a little firmer than some; however it’s never harsh and travels over rough surfaces and pot holes better than the typical supermini. Thanks to the chassis greater stiffness, Suzuki has slightly softened the suspension compared to the 2005 – 2010 models. Through corners the Swift remains flat and composed as the previous model, this one is dynamically closer to the leading Ford Fiesta in the handling stakes, than being class average. Body control is commendable over a wide variety of Australian road surfaces. Suzuki said the increased body stiffness has allowed it to soften the suspension slightly without affecting handling. The steering feels responsive and accurate and turns into corners keenly. On the braking front, all Swifts pull up nicely, however the GLX is the keenest stopper as it features disk brakes on all four wheels and the GA and GL come with rear drum brakes.
Not so good Whilst the handling is very good it can’t quite match the class leading Ford Fiesta and the steering is more artificial in feel than driving enthusiasts’ desire. It sometimes lacks consistent weighting.
Buying and Owning

Buying and Owning

Good This generation Suzuki Swift is great value for money. At launch in Feb 2011 the entry level GA grade costs the same as the entry level previous generation which went on sale in Australia way back in early 2005. This Swift is significantly safer than before with seven airbags fitted as standard across the range as well as Electronic Stability Control, Anti-lock Brakes, Electronic Brake Distribution and Brake Assist. Not surprisingly, all Swifts are awarded a five star safety rating from ANCAP. On the features front, the entry level GA grade gets air-conditioning, a radio/CD/MP3 audio system with USB port, power windows on all doors, electric mirrors and remote central locking. The mid spec GL gains a tacho and leather finished steering wheel with audio controls, 6 instead of 4 speakers and body-coloured door handles and mirrors. The GLX adds a size larger 16” alloys, front fog lights, the four disk brakes, keyless entry, climate control A/C and Bluetooth connectivity. Satellite navigation is an option as is funky body striping and a sports body kit. Sitting at the top of the range the new Swift Sport combines a sporty drive with a host of creature comforts that include sports bucket seats, shift paddles (CVT model), keyless entry, start/stop button, Bluetooth hands-free communications, six-speaker AM/FM/CD system with USB and a digital climate control air-conditioning system.
Not so good No diesel or force induction models on offer.