Despite drop in power and torque, Suzuki is likely to maintain its cult-like status among small cars
Suzuki has pretty much ensured its popularity in the Thai eco-car market with the new Swift.
While the second-generation Swift was produced under the eco-car regulations, the new model takes on the Eco Car Phase II requirements, which are even tougher in terms of fuel economy and emissions levels.
Suzuki has been quick in following up the official launch of the Swift with a media test-drive event held in Chiang Mai. Apart from rounding off the highlights of the new model, test drivers were also informed of the driving route, which consisted of twisting corners as well as long highways.
Retail pricing of the new Swift ranges from Bt499,000 to Bt629,000 – all four variants come with automatic transmission. With only 10-15 per cent of Thai customers purchasing the manual version in the previous model, the new Swift manual is expected to be offered at a later date.
Based on Suzuki’s new “Heartec” platform, the new Swift is slight shorter and lower than the outgoing model, but is as much as 40mm wider, and the wheelbase has been increased by as much as 90mm to 2,540mm resulting in a more spacious interior. While the luggage area was no strong point of the old model, the capacity has now been increased by 54 litres to 265 litres.
The exterior design of the Swift has been polished and loses a bit of funkiness, which is replaced with something more mature and European-looking. It’s still trendy though, featuring a “floating roof” design and rear door openers located at the C-pillar area.
The interior reflects a good effort in upgrading the atmosphere from an eco car to something more premium (like the Mazda2). While the flat-bottomed multi-function steering, 7-inch touchscreen and jet air vents look and feel great, the quality of the door panels and its “hollowness” still doesn’t impress. The tradition of offering one-touch electric window function just for opening still continues in the new model as well, even in the top GLX-Navi trim.
Nevertheless the Swift is well-equipped in other areas – there are 6 airbags, Hill Hold Control, traction control, idling stop, automatic climate control, and Suzuki Smart Connect with Apple CarPlay.
The Thai-spec Swift features a 1.2-litre, 4-cylinder direct ignition engine that passes the Eco Car Phase II regulations, with an average fuel economy of 23.3km/litre and 98g/km of CO2. Maximum output is claimed at a heart-breaking 83 horsepower (down from 91 horsepower in the previous model) while torque is down to 108Nm (from 118Nm).
Despite the drop in power and torque, the new Swift gets an improved CVT (Continuous Variable Transmission) and weighs much less (910kg compared to 975kg for the top model). As a result, acceleration is just marginally slower in the new model (about half a second for 0-100km/h) and the top speed is about 10km/h lower, according to in-house figures.
It’s too bad that Thailand doesn’t get the 3-cylinder 1.0-litre Boosterjet engine offered elsewhere that offers 110 horsepower and add tons of life to the new Swift, but that version doesn’t make the emission cut for the Eco Car Phase II’s 100g/km limit.
But do not be disappointed, as the new Swift, with just 83 horses, is still a much better drive than its predecessor. In fact, it’s gone up another level in driving satisfaction.
The lighter weight and revised suspension/steering system gives the new Swift improved nimbleness while offering loads of comfort. Cracks and bumps on country roads are ironed out nicely and the wider track gives the car better stability while cruising on the highway. You’d feel a much improved damping system in the new model that reminds you of European hatchbacks rather than Japanese.
The seats have been improved both in terms of design and comfort, while the steering is adjustable for both reach and rake, allowing the driver to find the perfect driving position.
Driving through the winding roads from Flora Park resort in Chiang Mai the Swift showed little or no understeer even with the traction system switched off, which was surprising for a car in this class.
The steering, which now carries its own control chip, is a great replacement for the problematic power steering in the outgoing model.
I really loved the chassis set-up of the new Swift. Compared to the one my son drives (a manual GL with all sorts of mods including Tein springs) the suspension is far superior, providing both better grip and comfort.
The top variant like the GLX-Navi also gets rear disc brakes that are much more desirable that the regular drums (still offered in the lower variants). Meanwhile, the Swift wheels never looked good and the new model doesn’t show much improvement.
I bet a huge number of owners will be going after custom wheels after the purchase.
Distributor Suzuki Motor (Thailand) hopes to sell 15,700 Swifts this year, but with more orders being accepted during the first three days of the launch (approximately 2,000 orders), the number could be easily upped as its assembly plant has enough capacity.
Meanwhile, existing Swift owners (like me) who want to purchase the new model also enjoy special privileges, such as free accessories worth Bt20,000, while regular customers get a Bt10,000 discount.
Like its predecessor that enjoys cult status, the new Swift is expected to take over the market once again, establishing a new benchmark in the Thai eco car market.
Suzuki Swift GLX-Navi CVT Specs
Engine: 4-cylinder DOHC 16-valve
Bore and stroke: 73.0x71.5mm
Compression ratio: 11.5:1
Max power: 83ps/6,000rpm
Max torque: 108Nm/4,400rpm
Final drive ratio: 3.757
0-100kmh: 13.87 secs
Top speed: approx. 170km/h
Average fuel economy: 23.3km/litre
Average CO2: 98g/km
Suspension (f/r): McPherson strut, coil spring/torsion beam, coil spring
Steering: powered rack-and-pinion
Turning circle: 9.6 metres
Brakes (f/r): vented disc/disc
Track (f/r): 1,520/1,525
Weight: approx. 910kgs
Wheels: 16-inch alloy
Fuel tank capacity: 37 litres
Distributor: Suzuki Motor Thailand Co Ltd