The Suzuki Swift is one of those cars that pops up all over the place, in the city, in the suburbs and out in country towns, the Swift calls all of these locations home and it’s little wonder why with a total of over 5 million Swifts roaming worldwide. That number looks set to climb higher with the introduction of the new Swift. The outgoing model etched a solid name for itself thanks to its playful driving characteristics and charming appearance, so how does the new version stack up?
Priced from $15,990 plus on-road costs, the new Swift is available in four grades – GL, GL Navigator, GL Navigator with Safety Pack and GLX, with the top two grades offering segment first (at the time of writing) Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) and radar cruise control.
Under the bonnet, the GL and GL Navigator offer a 66kW/120Nm 1.2-litre four-cylinder Dualjet engine with the option of 5-speed manual or CVT automatic transmission, with the top-spec GLX flaunting 6-speed auto alongside a newly-developed 82kW/160Nm 1.0-litre three-cylinder Boosterjet engine with direct-injection and turbocharging, generating higher torque from lower revs.
At a glance the Swift is easily recognisable, it’s a case of evolution rather than revolution with a few new additions that catch the eye. Up front the bonnet now fits lower and bulges up at the edges, everything in the new Swift flows in contrast to the harsher lines found previously. The roof line too flows and floats with rear door handles integrated high up into the black trim which is sure to confuse rear passengers when they first try to hop in. The evolved look brings the Swift into modernity with a fresh new style that retains the signature Swift profile.
From the inside the Swift doesn’t dazzle you with bright colours and shiny trinkets, things are much more mature than that. There’s plenty of black trim located throughout and while there are some cheap plastics Suzuki has put in the effort to spruce up the door trims which have soft touch cloth trim and padded arm rest. Everything you need to touch frequently such as the steering wheel, gear stick and handles feels right while the rest at least looks the part.
The 7-inch multi-touch display is grafted into the centre console and takes focus. The interface is simple in design and lacks the deeper, more intricate functions found on rival units but it does get the job done with its simplicity. Annoyingly each time you first jump into the navigation panel you’re required to click away the required warning message, no doubt a legal requirement from an overly legislated nation that’s been pushed into all markets. With the lack of colour draping the interior it’s the red glow of the instrument panel that stands out more so than usual and I found myself quite partial to the effect. The instrument panel is simple and effective with a funky surrounding design featuring the two big dials we’re used to, revs on the left and speed on the right.
The low seating position and high roof line of the Swift allows it to swallow up any size of passenger and driver alike without compromise. In the rear two adults fit without issue while a third makes things overly intimate. Oddly enough for a front wheel drive car there’s a transmission tunnel molding that robs the middle rear passenger of valuable leg room. Boot space is not amazing, only 242 litres with all the seats up and 918 litres when the seats get dropped.
Overall visibility isn’t the greatest in the Swift, thick A pillars limit vision up front and those massive C pillars pull the same trick out the back. The reversing camera does alleviate the situation to some extent when reversing but tracking cars around you on the road is a harder task than need be. Blind spot monitoring would be a great addition to the Swift but is sorely lacking. To make matters worse, on sunny days the black dashboard material glares up the front window further impeding visibility.
The Swift GL Navigator with Safety Pack tested here is powered by the 1.2-litre Dualjet engine with 66kw at 6,000rpm and 120Nm of torque at 4,400rpm. Both power and torque are high in the rev band so you really have to wring its neck to accelerate and that’s where I have an issue with the Swift. If you drive it softly you can get 5.8L/100km (4.8L/100km claimed) but you’ll get dropped at every set of lights and it takes a lengthy amount of time to get up to speed. Punch the throttle a bit harder and it’ll spring into life while making plenty of noise to let you know however your fuel economy takes a hit so you’re left with a tough choice, slow and economical, or regular pace with regular fuel economy. The gearbox fitted is a CVT automatic that’s less than excellent with low speed shudders and unresponsive shifts; it’s okay but needs work.
Underpinning the Swift is a highly capable chassis and suspension setup, it’s a complete joy to drive around town and more so through winding engaging roads. With only 900kg of weight it’s a nimble thing that can tackle corners far harder than you’d expect, so much so that the seats can’t hold you in place well enough to give it a rally inspired thrash. 16-inch alloy wheels clad in 185/55 rubber ensure the Swift has a respectable amount of grip to keep it on the road in the wet and dry with no drama.
Around town the short wheelbase gives the Swift an accommodating turning circle that makes tight spaces no hassle at all to negotiate. The ride is firm as often found in smaller cars but not back breaking over the rough stuff.
Having tested the mid-spec Swift GL with the Navigator and Safety Pack its got a few tricks up its sleeve in the safety department along with a grouping of convenient features. On the audio front the Swift doesn’t disappoint, supporting Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as well as the usual Bluetooth and auxiliary connectivity the speakers produce a quality sound that was above expectations even though digital radio is lacking.
Radar guided cruise control is present and works once you exceed the 40km/h activation point equally as well as systems found in far more expensive cars. You can also flick it into the speed limiting mode so overall you’ve got little excuse for copping a speeding ticket in the Swift. Completing the included safety features is the lane departure warning system, low/high speed forward collision mitigation system, front/rear seatbelts fitted with pretensioners(not fitted to centre rear seatbelt).
All models come equipped with six airbags (driver and passenger front airbags, front row side airbags, front and rear curtain airbags) that combine with the other safety features to bring the Swift up to a 5 star ANCAP safety rating (4 star ANCAP rating without the Safety Pack).
Design and Comfort: 7.0/10
Performance and Handling: 6.0/10
Equipment and Features: 8.0/10
The Suzuki Swift is a car that’s not only most at home in the city but also out in the open roads. It’s underpinned by a highly capable chassis that makes it a fun to drive small car, while the comprehensive safety features ensure occupant protection at all times. Just don’t ask too much of the powertrain.
- Playful handling
- Sporty design
- Generously equipped upper spec variants
- Lacks power
- CVT needs work
- Rear visibility lacking
2018 Suzuki Swift GL Automatic Navigator with Safety Pack Price and Specification
|Price (Excl. on-road costs):||From: $18,990
As tested: $19,490*
|Warranty:||3 years/100,000 kilometers|
|Country of Origin:||Japan|
|Service Intervals:||6 months/10,000km|
|Engine:||1.2-litre four-cylinder petrol
66kW @ 6,000rpm, 120Nm @ 4,400rpm
|Power to Weight Ratio (W/kg):||74.6|
|Combined Fuel Consumption (L/100km):||Claimed: 4.8 / Tested: 5.8|
|Fuel Capacity (L):||37|
|Body:||5-door hatch, 5 seats|
|Safety:||6 Airbags, ABS, ESC, TCS, EBD, Lane Departure Warning, Collision Mitigation Forward (high and low speed), Seatbelt Pretensioners|
|Dimensions (L/W/H/W-B) mm:||3840/1735/1495/2450|
|Kerb Weight (kg):||900|
|Entertainment:||7″ Touchscreen, Satellite Navigation, Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, AM/FM stereo, Bluetooth/USB/Aux input|