2012 SUZUKI SWIFT REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Five-door light hatchback
Fuel Economy (claimed): 5.5 l/100km
Fuel Economy (tested): 6.9 l/100km
Same familiar Swift styling, but virtually everything else is new. That’s the formula for the 2011 Suzuki Swift range. The top model, the GLX, adds a hefty dollop of equipment to the mix and the result is a very tasty and appealing little bun.
Tested here is the manual variant of the GLX, which, in our view, is the pick for driver enjoyment.
Quality: There is a mix of finely-textured and hard plastics throughout, while the gear knob and steering wheel are trimmed in soft leather.
Overall, material quality is high as is the level of fit and finish. There is a sense of durability about the interior and trim materials that adds to the appeal.
Comfort: The driver’s seat adjusts for height and the steering wheel tilts and telescopes. The front of the cabin is roomy, but back seat occupants might wish for a little more head and knee room.
Equipment: The range-topping GLX is equipped with keyless entry and ignition, Bluetooth, four-speaker stereo, USB audio input, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, climate control, foglamps and 16-inch alloys.
Storage: There's 210 litres of luggage space behind the back seats; 900 litres with the 60/40 split rear seatback folded. A false floor improves the usability of the small boot-space, and all doors are equipped with storage bins.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: Rev-happy but a little short on torque, the Swift’s 70kW/130Nm 1.4 litre petrol engine is nevertheless fine for everyday commuting.
Put a few adult passengers aboard and performance is blunted a little, but the six ratios of the slick-shifting manual gearbox helps keep the engine on the boil.
Refinement: Compared to the last-gen Swift, sound and vibration suppression is markedly improved. There’s some tyre roar on coarser tarmac, but the Swift is certainly not the only light car to suffer from that.
Suspension: Compliant on rough roads and providing quite a reasonable ride, the Swift’s chassis is also entertaining on twistier tarmac. There’s some body roll, but overall the Swift is stable and predictable when being hustled along.
The electric power steering not only reduces drag on the engine (improving fuel economy in the process), but provides reasonable feedback and is not over-assisted.
Braking: The Swift GLX is equipped with rear disc brakes instead of the GA and GL's rear drum brakes, and pedal feel is smooth and progressive. With a kerb weight of just over a tonne, the Swift stops smartly.
ANCAP rating: 5 stars.
Safety features: Seven airbags (front, front side, curtain and driver's knee), three-point seatbelts on all seats, ABS, EBD, stability control and traction control are standard.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: 3 year/100,000 kilometre warranty.
Service costs: Maintenance intervals are set for every 12 months/16,000km. Servicing costs can vary, so contact your local Suzuki dealer before purchase.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
Hyundai Accent Elite Hatch ($18,490) - The mid-grade Accent’s interior may not feel as classy as the Swift’s, but it’s much larger and boasts class-topping levels of rear passenger space.
Its 91kW/156Nm engine is also far more tractable than the Suzuki’s 1.4 litre unit. (see Accent reviews)
Ford Fiesta LX Hatch ($18,990) - Line-ball with the Suzuki on price, the Fiesta LX’s advantages include a zesty 89kW/151Nm 1.6 litre engine, competent handling and cruise control as standard.
Its interior can’t match the Swift for quality though. (see Fiesta reviews)
Volkswagen Polo 77 TSI ($19,850) - You pay a premium for the VW, but it’s worth it. The 1.2 litre turbo is every bit as grunty as the larger engines in this class, and build quality is superb.
But its standard equipment list looks weak compared to the Swift GLX’s. (see Polo reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
If you’re thinking of buying a Swift and don’t mind a manual transmission, the GLX manual is the one to have.
The optional four-speed auto may be easier to live with in stop-start traffic, but the six-speed manual is more fun to drive and a better match for the Swift’s engine.
The snappy Swift is selling well for good reason. It’s nicely styled, easy to live with and hard to beat in GLX spec. The unavailability of cruise control is an oversight, but the Swift GLX is otherwise one of the best buys in the segment.