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Reader test: Suzuki Swift

2009-07-22 07:14

Brendon Carpenter, Johannesburg

As a 21-year old student I recently had the opportunity to choose my very first, brand new car.

My dad set the budget at around R 130k and the Toyota Yaris T3 looked like a safe bet. There was only one problem; it had NO features! Sure, it had had a facelift, but the change was as conservative as most Toyota owners.

That's when I turned my attention to the Suzuki Swift, a car that I had been idolising since its launch last year. At that time the Swift GLS retailed at R 132 000.

Considering the standard equipment, I believed it was the bargain of 2008. The only challenge was persuading my “Toyota loving” dad into a similar mode of thought.

I am happy to report that a few weeks later the finance was arranged and I took delivery of my Swift GLS in November 2008.

The toys

The Swift GLS offers tons of standard, comfort and safety features. These include electric windows, central locking, MP3 CD player with remote audio controls on the steering wheel, ABS brakes with BAS and EBD, six airbags, front fog lights, etc.

All of this adds to the joy of driving while extra benefits such as a four-year/60 000 km maintenance plan, three-year/unlimited km AA roadside assistance and Netstar adds peace of mind without adding to the price tag.

The driving experience

The Swift is equipped with a grunty 1.5 VVT engine that is eager to rev and really comes alive at around 4 000 r/min.

It produces 74kW at 6 000 r/min and develops 133 Nm of torque at 4 000 r/min. The willingness of the engine provides a daily, urban “sporty” driving experience that tends to alter the fuel consumption figures towards the “heavy” side. With my boy racer driving style the figures settled around 9l/100km, but on the open road this dropped to an impressive 6.7l/100km on a trip to the Western Cape in December 2008.
Dynamically the Swift is very capable. The chassis is short and wide, distributing the wheels to the corners of the car. This improves the handling and makes cornering a breeze. There is a slight degree of bodyroll when taking on a corner at speed, but it never upsets the broad-shouldered cornering ability of the Swift.

While driving, the Swift feels like a bigger, German car, something like a 3 Series BMW as opposed to a R150k city slicker.

Driving on bumpy roads, the ride might become a bit choppy for those grumpy critics who would also complain about the perceived lack of rear legroom and “modest” 200l boot capacity. If this is a problem then you should settle for something boring, like a Yaris Sedan, but then just remember to remove your dentures before falling asleep behind the steering wheel. Enough said.


Inside, the Swift is comfortable and the dashboard and panels are of good quality. The chrome door levers, shiny door strips and leather covered steering wheel all add to the German-quality look and feel of the Swift. The design is minimalist and simple in its layout, but suits the funky exterior rather well.

The outside design of the Swift can be described as chunky and will appeal to male and female drivers alike. The blacked-out A and B-pillars, high roof line and smaller side windows add to the funky, helmet shape of the body. It will find favour with individuals who prefer something different from the more common Ford Fiestas, Mazda 2s, VW Polos and Toyota Yaris, etc.

In a nutshell

For a few years now, car dealers have been stirring up some hot deals on brand new, entry level vehicles with prices that will even impress the older-of-age, but add some creature comforts, styling accessories and safety equipment to the mix, bring to boil and the price is sure to sky rocket like a dodgy pressure cooker.

The Swift GLS provides all these benefits without adding to the price tag. At 13 000 km I am happy to report that the car is still as superb as ever. My only critique concerns a small rattle in the dash that starts every now and again and an almost inaudible cabin turning signal.

But none of these are enough to alter my decision. Currently at R 153 000, I still believe that the Swift is the bargain of the year.

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