In a market that is crowded with carmakers and their numerous models, only a handful of nameplates have really struck gold. There’s the Honda City and the Toyota Innova, of course. But then, there’s the Maruti Suzuki Swift. A car that single handedly made hatchbacks young, desirable and fun. This too at a time when the Indian public was still very much in love with status oriented three-box cars.
No wonder it continues to sell so well.
Now, there’s a new one out. It is based on a new platform; comes with completely redesigned interior and exteriors; and though it runs the same engines as the previous generation model, Maruti says, the new Swift is quicker and more efficient. And as first impressions go, it seems like Maruti really has hit the nail on the head with the all-new Swift!
The new car might wear completely new panels compared to the previous generation car, but there’s still no mistaking this as the Swift. The signature design elements – the tapering floating roof, pronounced rear haunches and the elongated head and tail lamps – are all there. Additionally, the new Swift gets a more attention grabbing front grille; C-pillar mounted rear door handles to give the car a three-door look; and shinier and better looking 15” wheels.
The changes to the interior of the Swift are equally telling. It might carry over some buttons and switches – like those for the power windows and the ORVM adjustment – from the older car, but it has a lot of fresh elements as well. The dashboard, the centre console, the seats, the climate control system, and the large touchscreen multimedia system (only on the top-of-the-line ZXI+ and ZDI+ trims) are all new for the Swift.
But, if you are getting a sense of déjà vu, that’s because the new Swift – which shares its base with the new Dzire – mirrors the latter’s interior design quite closely. Blame the economies of scale if you will, but even so, we really couldn’t find anything to criticize on the Swift’s insides either. Much like the Dzire.
Feature wise, the new Swift has a decent mix. All trims come with ABS and airbags as standard. And the new Swift – like the Baleno and the Dzire that are based on the same platform – meets all necessary crash test norms, and then some.
The all-new Swift might be new in a number of areas – design, platform, interior, and features – but, it continues to be powered by the same 1.2-litre petrol and 1.3-litre diesel engines. The only change is that both engines can now be had with a 5-speed manual and a 5-speed AMT or automated manual transmission.
We absolutely loved the manual petrol variant. The engine sounds good, it revs freely, and it has enough grunt to keep the driver involved and happy. Plus, the clutch is light and the gear shifts are precise and enjoyable. The petrol AMT isn’t bad either. Yes, the shift shocks are pretty pronounced, but one can get around that by using the throttle intelligently.
As for the diesel, the AMT again isn’t as good as the manual. But then, the diesel just isn’t as good as the petrol. This 1.3-litre diesel is noisy, vibey, and still big on turbo-lag. It’s fine for those looking at raking in big miles, but for everyone else, the petrol is what we would recommend.
But, no matter what engine you choose, crisp and involving handling come as standard on the new Swift. It turns into corners with the agility of a hare. And even when committed to a corner, it never feels vague or nervous. Here the diesel is more fun. The steering feels more consistent on the diesel and it’s also more eager to perform lift-off oversteer moves compared to the petrol.
The ride on the new Swift - no matter what engine - is acceptable at best. It isn’
t plush as some of its competitors, but then it isn’t completely harsh or unpredictable or unbearable even. Ride quality clearly isn’t the new Swift’s USP, but, it’s also not a deal breaker.
The first generation Swift in India was an excellent car for its time. It brought a different set of values to the mix which made us sit up and take notice. And yes, made the car the success it is today.
The previous generation, or the second-generation car, sadly, wasn’t outstanding. As a product, and as a car, it was fine. But, it wasn’t good enough to blind you from buying anything else.
This, the all-new Swift, however, is more like the original. It does the regular, basic stuff extremely well. And then, it also brings in the same set of lovely values – youthfulness, fun and desirability; courtesy its engine and handling mainly – that made the original a blockbuster.
This one too seems set for greatness, and comes with a ‘BUY’ tag, no question.
Pictures: Kapil Angane