Suzy puts the boot in to stir Dzire
Suzuki SA’s joined the car-price wars. The entry-level A-segment in which its 1.4-litre Swift and 1.6-litre Swift Sport fly around has rapidly become no-entry for younger buyers so a marketing answer was needed.
With the rand value down the toilet, Suzuki SA found an answer across the Indian Ocean divide...
Until now (February 2014) there were three hatchback models in the Suzuki Swift range – a 1.4 GLS priced at R186 900, a 1.4 GLS a/t at R201 900 (each capable of 70kW and 130Nm) and the somewhat more robust and performance-orientated Swift 1.6 Sport boasting 100kW and 160Nm for – in the A-segment, remember – a rather heady R223 900.
Each is, however, pretty full-house on standard furnishings: aircon, alloy rims, radio/CD player, Bluetooth phone connection, central locking, power windows, fog lights, high-intensity third brake light, power-assisted steering and cruise control.
GALLERY: Suzuki adds Dzire to its Swifts
The original Swifts also have anti-lock brakes with electronic pressure distribution and emergency braking pressure, two airbags, keyless ignition and a multi-function steering-wheel are also part of the rather pricey packages. Boot size is listed as 533 litres and ground clearance 140mm – we’ll get back to that...
VIDEO: New Suzuki Swift engines on tour in SA
Price, then, has essentially become the problem for younger buyers – 25 to 35 – who just couldn’t meet the payments for these cars, fine and well-equipped as they are, so Suzuki SA’s only alternative was to look for ways still to supply the cars while reducing the price.
The answer: Keep the existing range but add imported and less-expensive, smaller-engined Swifts and, while at it, include a sedan (swopping the hatch for a boot). The answer lay with Maruti Suzuki which assembles such cars in India with, happily for pricing, a slightly reduced but still acceptable specification.
SKIP CRUISE CONTROL
There are three 1.2 models, starting with an entry-level hatchback Swift GA 1.2 and rising through GL-specced five-speed manual and four-speed auto versions of the new Dzire sedan (prices below).
The two hatch and Dzire GA models have airbags, aircon, power-assisted steering and rear wiper/washer; the GL manuals and autos add quite a pack of extras to bring them pretty much on par with the 1.6 units: 15” alloy rims, anti-lock brakes rev counter, front fog lights, body-coloured external mirrors with integrated indicator repeaters, four-speaker audio with USB port, steering-wheel audio controls, power windows and locks and keyless entry.
All I missed was cruise control – but then I’m a cruise control addict.
Swift 1.6 prices are up above: here’s what you’ll pay for the 1.2 models (VAT included) There is no Sport version but they all share the same platform as the original Swifts.
Swift 1.2 GA – R126 900
Swift 1.2 GL – R136 900
Swift 1.2 GL a/t – R151 900
Swift Dzire GA – R128 900
Swift Dzire GL – R138 900
Swift Dzire GL a/t – R153 900
...all of which make them much more competitive with other A-segment models. And the prices include, Suzuki SA says, a two-year or 30 000km service plan, three-year or 100 000km warranty and six-year rust perforation warranty.
The hatch, Suzuki says, is likely to be the best-seller by 70-30%.
The main price difference, then, must be in the included price of the engine, whose displacement, power and torque are the same across the range. There’s also a few SA-friendly benefits, especially given the state of the nation’s pot-holed roads: not only has the ride height been increased by 30mm over the more expensive Swifts’ 140mm by fitting more-rugged higher-profile tyres but the new hatch and Dzire were engineering for the heat of India – good news for warm South Africa.
Suzuki also reports that its fleet of 22 pre-sale test cars covered thousands of kilometres in South Africa and, thoughtfully, the company recorded their total and therefore average fuel consumption figures (a far more honest system than the European system of running cars on a perfect course at a perfect speed).
The result, Suzuki SA says, was 5.6 litres/100km.
Under the skin, Suzuki adds, the cars share the original Swifts’ strong and rigid chassis, with a suspension layout that combines independent Macpherson struts up front with a torsion beam at the rear. The front disc / rear drum braking configuration is linked to anti-lock control on GL versions.
Francois van Eeden, national marketing manager at Suzuki Auto SA, told the media at the launch in Cape Town: “The new Swift DZire adds an important string to the Suzuki bow. Our Swift range has already established itself as a significant player in the sub-compact hatchback segment, and now the DZire will extend that success formula into the small sedan sector.”
A 300km route out of Cape Town to Stellenbosch and then along the awesome road that follows the east coast of False Bay showed the de-powered Swift to be a fun car to drive; great for town and local freeways but the engine is a a bit noisy and the gearbox needs some stirring.
The ride, however, is firm, the seats adjustable and adequate and rear legroom in the sedan is remarkable. Overall, as an entry-level car for young families or even young-at-heart wrinklies, the not only de-powered but also de-priced Swift hatch and Swift Dzire look like a worthwhile option.
Go test-drive one and tell us what you think in the Readers’ Comments section below.