In this case, being the same is not a bad thing. The Swift has long been Suzuki's bread and butter model with healthy sales in the affordable compact car segment around the world, and so when a new model was launched it had to be all-new, but it also had to be the same too. If the familiar feel of the outgoing model wasn't felt in the new model, you can be sure buyers would start to look elsewhere. Luckily while there's been some physical weight saving and new manufacturing processes in play to keep weight down, the small hatchback still feels as solid as ever, it's magic really. To take advantage of the low weight, there's an all-new normally aspirated 1200cc engine mated to a 5-speed manual (or 5-speed AMT) transmission and the combination makes brilliant use of the 61kW and 113Nm, much more so than the numbers suggest. Of course, this is all wrapped up in a good-looking little body too. I'll admit when I first saw it I wasn't too keen on the new design, but that's mainly thanks to how much I like the previous model. It did start to grow on me, and then when I saw the bagged one on the Suzuki stand at Festival of Motoring I was sold.
It makes sense that a new car would have a new inside, and the first criteria of it needing to feel familiar is there. The materials used manage to not look cheap and have a good tactile feel to them, something you don't often find in a budget car. The gauge cluster looks more modern and features a driver information screen in between the speed and tacho. The dash layout is similar to old, but the entertainment section angles more to the driver. Said infotainment is sadly limited to a basic radio but it does have Bluetooth streaming and heads-free telephony. Once connected to my phone I never gave it a second thought anyway, and for on-the-drive calls operation is smooth and easy and the quality is brilliant. The standard speakers are ok, but after a week with the car, I'd like to put some aftermarket bits in that will make things just that bit better. All trims Swift feature air conditioning, front and rear electric windows, power steering and remote central locking. GL-trim gets a better audio system with the aforementioned Bluetooth-connectivity, a USB socket and electronically adjustable wing mirrors. There's also a fair amount of storage space scattered around the cabin as is the norm for a Suzuki.
A review week is way different to a launch, you get to know what a car is like to live with and you get to know it's characteristics a little more. The steering feedback is as initially reported, pretty good, as is the roadholding. I would prefer wider tyres because in my head a minimum contact patch should be at least 195 in width on at least a 15-inch wheel . That said, anyone buying one would easily be able to get the dealership to include a set of aftermarket wheels in the finance if buyers think like I do. The space is good, a little up from the last model, and with a full family in the car there was enough space to be comfortable and the little motor managed great, even at our power-sapping altitude. I managed to fold the seats and fit my bike in that I use at events. The all-new Suzuki Swift is also rather frugal when it comes to fuel consumption, a real selling point in SA these days. It's rated at 4.9-litres/100km and on the launch it returned 5.1, but on the test week the best figure I saw on the info screen was 4.3-litres/100km - that's like running on freaking fumes.
Overall, the all-new Suzuki Swift is a great little car, as fellow motoring scribe Martin Pretorius describes Suzuki products: "good, honest cars" and I agree 100%. The new version is sure to keep up and improve upon the sales the nameplate has had to date, buttering Suzuki's bread nice and thick. If you're after a good car and you're on a limited budget, downsizing to save a bob or two, or buying your kid a first car, you really should take one for a test drive. I'd happily have one as a daily runner, but of course I'd make it look a lot more like the bagged one mentioned earlier. I hope I'll be seeing more youngsters out there as the events I cover in Suzukis instead of all the usual choices. Oh, and of course to make it even more worth your money, Suzuki SA also sweetens the deal by offering a 5yr / 200 000km promotional warranty with the new Swift. For more details, you can check out info from my launch impressions, or head on over to the Suzuki SA website.
1.2i GA MT SW14 R160 900
1.2i GL MT SW15 R177 900
1.2i GL AMT SW16 R191,900
Price includes 5yr / 200 000km promotional warranty
Retail price includes a 2 yr / 30 000km service plan