2011 Suzuki Swift Testdrive

I recently had a chance to testdrive the newly launched 2011 Suzuki Swift and although it was just a brief drive, it revealed quite a lot.

At first glance, the new Swift looks like the previous model but closer inspection shows significant changes. Most noticeable are the larger swooping head and taillights. It has also grown a bit with bulging rear haunches (see specs below). With these “improvements”, the new Swift still looks as attractive as ever. Its style is gender neutral so neither of the sexes will be ashamed to be seen in it. Why fix what is not broken, right?

The K14B 1.4L M/T VVTi engine of the Swift proved to be quite peppy. While hauling 5 passengers, the car was able to easily zip around and overtake. According to the Suzuki representatives, despite losing 0.1L displacement from the previous model, they were able to retain the torque and power, while improving on its fuel efficiency. True enough, the quick drive around the busy Ortigas area yielded 9.4L/100kms or 10.63km/L (according to the onboard fuel consumption meter display). The car is fairly new with only 300+ kms on the odometer so expect this to improve some more.

One thing I immediately noticed was the quiet cabin. Even when accelerating with 5 passengers on board, the engine was barely audible. The gas and clutch pedals are soft so changing gears through traffic won’t be a hassle. The front discs and rear drumbrakes are capable enough at stopping the car anytime. As expected, the Swift’s steering is light and its sporty suspension tuning is on the stiff side which makes maneuvering effortless. This of course leads to a little bit of a bumpy ride, but maybe the 185/55R16 tires overinflated to 35psi had something to do with it.

Suzuki is not targetting single-car families for the Swift. It is perfect as a 2nd/3rd car for a married guy/gal…or for single people who need to go around the city, whether to go to the office or on a date. I say this because the cabin is quite cramped. Although it has gotten bigger compared to the last gen, it still lacks room in the back. I could not fully move the driver seat back for a comfortable driving position as there was no more knee/legroom for the person behind. You can forget about roadtrips with the whole family as well, as cargo area is almost negligible. For those with babies, the only way you can fit a stroller in the back is if you fold the 60:40 seats.

Too bad, I was not able to tinker with the steering wheel audio controls and the i-pod/usb connectivity, as well as enjoy the 6-speaker setup due to time constraints but these features are definitely a plus. It also has all power windows/locks/mirrors, foglamps, keyless entry with immobilizer, ABS and Airbags as standard. Color choices are Ablaze Red, Snow White Pearl and Star Silver Metallic.

With this quick drive of the Swift, I conclude that it will retain its niche position in the hatchback subcompact segment. With its competitive pricing of 729,000 for the 5-speed M/T and 769,000 for the 4-speed A/T (still only 4-sp??), this car definitely is a worthy contender. Unfortunately, it wont be enough to dethrone the Jazz and the Fiesta as the kings in this category. Its a nice car to have if you value fun more than practicality.

Positive:
– Stylish looks
– Quiet cabin
– Peppy engine
– Effortless steering

Negative:
– Cramped space for rear and cargo
– A/T only 4-speed

Specifications:
Overall Length: 3,850 mm
Overall Width: 1,695 mm
Overall Height: 1,510 mm
Wheelbase: 2,430 mm
Min. Turning Radius: 5.2 m
Min. Ground Clearance: 140 mm
Engine: K14B 4-cylinder DOHC 16-valve
Displacement: 1,372cc
Bore x Stroke: 73 x 82mm
Max Output: 94hp @ 6,000rpm
Max Torque: 130Nm @ 4,000rpm
Luggage Capacity: 900L (max volume)
533L (rear seatback folded – VDA Method)
210L (rear seatback raised – VDA Method)
Fuel Tank Capacity: 42L

Apologies for the grainy pics. This was taken at high noon with a crappy mobile phone camera