As a motoring writer you often run the risk of falling into the trap of clichés, silly puns and, every now and then, some annoyingly awkward alliteration. And you are especially susceptible when the car is question a. is an Alfa Romeo (all Alfas have “soul” and “passion” … they just do), or b. has a cutesy name that just begs to punned upon.
I’ve already been caught once with a punny Swift title, when I reviewed the previous-generation 1,4 GLS model for CyberStoep. I really liked that car; it successfully built upon all that was great about its predecessor, the second-generation Swift (the first in SA) – it looked great, was comfortable and fun to drive, was well made and, crucially, affordable and fuel efficient.
It was, as my punny headline declared, “as swift as ever”.
I therefore had high hopes for a puntastic review of the all-new, fourth-generation Swift GL. But, there was an immediate problem… While some might have criticised the previous model for being a little conservative in its styling, this was one of the things I quite liked about the third-gen Swift. The new one, though, has a slightly more edgy feel to it.
Wider and shorter, the new Swift retains the hallmark blacked-out A- and B-pillars, and goes a step further by adding a blacked-out section to the C-pillars as well (where you’ll also find the trendy hidden rear door handles). It also boasts larger headlamp clusters, LED combination taillamps, an angrier grille, and more muscular haunches.
None of this was the problem, though. That only became apparent when I happened to park next to a Datsun Go (a vehicle I abhor) and was struck by the general similarities between the two.
Nonetheless and moving very swiftly along (see what I did there?), the news gets better when you climb aboard.
Up front you are greeted by a modern, driver-centric dash and a sporty flat-bottomed steering wheel through which you see a pair of large, clear hooded instruments. Look closely and you’ll see the concentric circles that lead outward to the silver and red rims. The circular effect is echoed by the air vents atop the dash – the overall design really is spot on.
So is the quality. Yes, this is a budget car with an abundance of hard plastics – but the quality thereof, fit and finish are rather good.
The new Swift benefits from a 20-mm longer wheelbase which means that, with its broader proportions, occupant space is improved. Suzuki claims that rear passengers have 23-mm additional headroom, while those up front have 10-mm extra shoulder room. This might not sound like much, but the difference can certainly be felt. (The boot grows by a sizeable 58 l, too.)
In fact, comfort levels overall are very high. While it weights a scant 875 kg (95 kg down on the old model!), the Swift rides like a much larger, heavier car around town. It must be said, though, that it doesn’t enjoy fast highway driving.
While one could never call the new Swift a fast car, that light weight means it is very nippy indeed. Surprisingly so, in fact, when one considers that it is endowed with only a 1,2-litre engine. This free-revving unit produces all of 61 kW and 113 Nm, but the Swift sprints through its five gears and to 100 km/h in 12 seconds – sounding quite determined as it goes.
Suzuki also claims it’ll sip fuel at an average of just 4,9 l/100 km. Historically, Suzuki’s claimed fuel consumption figures are rather accurate – so I have no reason to doubt them!
And yet again that lightweight chassis comes to the fore… Building on the fun-to-drive nature of Swifts past, the new model enjoys being tossed around. It stops well, too, aided by standard fitment ABS with EBD and brake assist.
Other standard equipment includes dual front airbags, Isofix child seat anchorage, an alarm/immobiliser, front and rear electric windows, and a Bluetooth-equipped sound system. GL models also receive an attractive set of wheel covers.
It’s clear then that the potential exists for Suzuki to expand the Swift range with larger engines and enhanced levels of equipment. For now, though, this current range is all South Africa is getting. But, even then and against its eight direct rivals, at R177 900 this 1.2 GL offers really good value. (The price includes a five-year/200 000 km mechanical warranty and a two-year/30 000 km service plan.)
Overall, the Swift is as brilliant as it’s ever been and – if you make a point of not parking next to a Datsun Go – rather hard to fault. High hopes, then, for the forthcoming Suzuki Swift Sport. Which I have no doubt will be one swift and sporty Suzuki…
A cliché, pun and annoyingly awkward alliteration all in one, there.
CyberStoep rating: 7/10