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We drive Suzuki's new Swift

2011-03-31 08:51

MORE SWIFT: Suzuki's popular hatchback receives a sporty makeover with the launch of the new Swift in 2011.

Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Suzuki
Model Swift
Engine 1.4-litre Petrol
Power 70kW at 6000rpm
Torque 130Nm at 4000rpm
Transmission Five-speed manual; Four-speed automatic
Fuel Tank 42-litres
Fuel Consumption 5.5l/100km; 6.2l/100km
Steering Power steering
Airbags Dual front
Front Suspension MacPherson strut with coil spring
Rear Suspension Torsion beam with coil spring
Service Intervals 15000km
Service Plan Four year/60 000km
Warranty Three year/100 000 km
Price GL Manual - R152 900; GLS Manual - R169 900; GLS Auto - R183 900

Sergio Davids

When I first got behind the wheel of a Suzuki Swift back in 2008, I have to admit that I was skeptical about its performance.

After a month behind the wheel of Wheels24’s erstwhile Swift long-termer, I found myself pleasantly surprised. That being said, Suzuki’s popular little hatchback may have been considered by some as being a surprising hit in South Africa, having sold 4 108 models locally since its local debut in June 2008 following the brand's relaunch here.

Now Suzuki’s introduced a new and improved version of its Swift hatchback, promising drivers “a lot more than you’d expect”.

After a quirky media briefing involving a dance routine by SA’s Got Talent winner Darren Rajbal and an introduction by comedic actor Rob “Twakkie” Van Vuuren, we hit the open roads of rural KwaZulu-Natal for a ride and drive.

In its sportier new guise, the Swift’s design tweaks are most visible on the restyled light clusters front and rear, and the car's wider body. The new model gains a minimal increase in length of 95mm to a total length of 3.85m. Inside, the interior has been tweaked to provide a “classier” feel to the cabin compared to its predecessor. Mixing up the black-on-grey colour scheme are new chrome inserts and flashier-looking dials.

The new Swift’s body reflects an evolution of Suzuki’s Total Effective Control Technology (TECT). The use of higher-strength steel has improved rigidity, roll stiffness and impact safety.

In essence, the proportionally wide track and short wheelbase of the original configuration have been retained, but 40mm has been added between the axles for improved interior space. The front track is increased by up to 20mm, and the rear by as much as 15mm (depending on specification).


A new 1.4-litre engine from the Japanese automaker makes its debut in the new Swift, replacing the outgoing model’s 1.5-litre unit.

The new powerplant sees a five percent reduction in power, translating to a performance figure of 70kW at 6000rpm (down from 74kW) and a maximum torque peak of 130 Nm at 4000rpm (down from 133Nm).

This results in a lower fuel consumption figure of 5.5 litres per 100km for the manual (down from 6.3) and 6.2 litres per 100km in the auto (down from 6.7l).

The new model sounds as eager as ever (especially in the manual), though it’s a shame there’s no extra oomph added to the engine. The handling is crisper compared to the outgoing model and overall the new Swift feels more robust than before.

Suzuki’s new 1.4-litre engine, as before, drives either through a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. The manual gearbox has a newly-adopted shift-assist mechanism for reduced driver effort, while the auto' boasts a straight-shift pattern, as well as lock-up slip control.

Although the automatic is more than capable of handling urban driving conditions, I found the automatic searching for gears when climbing hills – although there is a manual tipshift shift option, it really could do with an extra ratio.

Statistically, the manual version of the new Swift is capable of accelerating from 0-100km in 10.9 seconds and 12.3 seconds in the auto, with top speeds of 170 km/h and 165 km/h, respectively, for the two 1.4-litre models.

Braking performance has also been improved with new ventilated front discs, allowing more effective stopping power and improved pedal feel compared to the outgoing model.


Topping off the new Swift range is the GLS model distinguished from its siblings by 16-inch alloy wheels with larger 185/55 R16 tyres and front fog lights.

The interior has had a leather trim makeover and a USB socket is added for the audio system. This top-of-the-range model also feature keyless entry and climate control.

A minimum of two front airbags are specified as standard on the entry-level GL model, while the higher-spec GLS gains dual side airbags incorporated into the front seats, along with curtain airbags. Dual Isofix child seat points are provided for the rear seats.


New Swift carries with it an increased price tag on all the variants with the base model breaching the R150 000 mark. The new automatic is now above R180 000 which is rather steep considering the four-speed gearbox on offer.

Overall, pricing has increased to the value of around R10k - with only a marginal R5000 increase on the GLS auto. It will be interesting to see how the new Swift fairs against competition from the likes of Toyota's Yaris Zen3 and T3 Plus, Volkwagen's Polo, Chevrolet’s Aveo and Ford’s Fiesta.

The new Swift is a disarmingly cute little hatchback, more than capable of handling any suburban driving need and, despite the drop in power over the old car, this one's improved handling and design tweaks will ensure the new Swift will continue adding to the brand's legion of fans.


Swift GL manual  -  R152 900
Swift GLS manual  -  R169 900
Swift GLS auto  -  R183 900

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