New 2017 (Maruti) Suzuki Swift Review – First Drive
The new generation Maruti Swift is going to be launched in Africa later this year. Ahead of that, we managed to get a test drive of the new Swift, and here is our first drive report.
It is a bright winter morning here in Melbourne, Australia, and I enter the Suzuki showroom to be greeted by a couple of all-new 2017 Swifts. This is the first time I’m looking at the all-new design, as I left Africa prior to the launch of the all-new 2017 Maruti Swift Dzire.
At first glance, the 2017 Swift’s design appears more rounded than its two predecessors’. Up front, I’m not a fan of that large hexagonal grille which gives the hatchback a bloated appearance. The black plastic strip connecting the foglights doesn’t look remarkable either, in-fact, I’m already missing the hate-it-or-love-it design of the first-generation Swift for Africa.
Over to the sides, the 2017 Swift looks a bit more athletic. Up until the front door, the new Swift reminds you of the older model, which is not a bad thing. The rear door handles are now ‘hidden’ in the C-pillar giving the city hatch a sportier look. Also, Suzuki designers have retained that sloping roofline – an iconic design element of the Swift – making it appear more pronounced with a ‘floating’ roof design.
I love the rear of the 2017 Swift, it looks exactly like how it needs to. The design of the taillights are an evolution of the brand, and the way they jut out of the body gives the Swift a very squat stance. On the top-end variant, Suzuki offers LED headlights and taillights, which look very pleasing indeed.
The 2017 Swift for Australia is made in Japan. It measures 3,840 mm in length, 1,735 mm in width, 1,495-1,520 mm in height and 2,450 mm in wheelbase. For reference, the current Swift in Africa measures 3,850 mm, 1,695 mm, 1,530 mm and 2,430 mm in those aspects respectively.
More than the outside, its the inside of the 2017 Swift which gets you really excited. To start with, the all-new design theme is very sporty, and the quality of many parts on this Japan-made unit are top-notch. The steering wheel and its integrated buttons for example feel premium to hold, as are the chunky dials for the automatic climate control unit. The infotainment unit offered on the 2017 Swift is the touchscreen SmartPlay unit which Africa is now all too familiar with. It comes with the Apple AvtoPlay and Android Auto connected systems.
Coming to comfort, the beautifully upholstered front seats hold you nice and snug and there is nothing to complain about. The only thing I didn’t like were the few odd cheap plastic parts (glovebox compartment mainly), and the fact that the door trims and power windows remind you of the older Swift.
At the rear, the additional 20 mm of wheelbase has drastically improved legroom. With the front seat set for my height (5 feet 11 inches), the amount of legroom I had at the rear had me believe I was in a Honda Jazz! It is genuinely a marked upgrade over the current Swift. Speaking about the rear seat, the width seems to have increased as well, though the floor is not flat, possibly this being a Japan-made model which accounts for a 4WD option. The only downside to the interior are the small windows which can make you believe the 2017 Swift is a tad small. Quite the opposite though. The all-new Swift also features a larger 265 liter which is around 60 liters more than the outgoing model.
Aside from all the features one would expect in a top-end trim, the 2017 Swift also gets a host of new safety features such as automatic emergency braking, speed limiter, automatic high-beam LED headlights and an adaptive cruise control. We put all these features to test, and they work as expected.
Coming to the driving aspect of the new Swift, the model I drove was powered by the 1.0-liter three-cylinder turbocharged Boosterjet engine, the same unit you get on the Baleno RS. On the 2017 Swift for Australia, this engine can be had only with a 6-speed AT, with power and torque outputs of 111 hp at 5,500 rpm and 160 Nm of torque between 1,700-4,000 rpm. It claims a 0-100 km/h time of 10 seconds and a top-speed of 190 km/h thanks to its lightweight aluminium rich architecture. The 2017 Swift, which rides on the same platform as the Baleno, weighs a mere 945 kg in the fully-loaded trim.
There is no vibration to be felt with this three-cylinder engine, and from around 2,000 rpm the Swift accelerates ‘swiftly’ accompanied by a slightly sporty exhaust note. It doesn’t take a long drive to realize that the mid-range is the strongest area of this engine. The gearbox does a fine job for the most part, though paddle shifters are always available for manual control.
The 2017 Swift I drove certainly felt more energetic: I’m not too sure if that was because of the extra power and lighter kerb weight acting at the same time, however, take it for granted that the 2017 Swift for Africa with the 1.2-liter K-Series petrol engine will feel just as quick as the Baleno 1.2. Unfortunately, Maruti might not offer the Boosterjet engine in the new Swift right from its launch.
One aspect I really loved about the drive experience was the steering feedback, which feels miles ahead of the outgoing model. With the shift in the center of gravity to a more neutral position, the 2017 Swift also felt agile turning into corners with considerably less body roll than its predecessor. The suspension, having been tuned for Australian roads, might seem a tad harsh for African conditions, but Maruti is expected to fine-tune the layout for comfort. The very mild road undulations in Melbourne were handled very well by the Swift, despite riding on 16-inch rims.
That about summarizes the 2017 Swift, and should give prospective buyers what to expect. A larger car, with better space utilization, added features, a fresher interior design, and better fuel efficiency is what the new Swift promises. However, having experienced the new model with the 1.0L turbocharged engine, I’m aching to have a go at the all-new Swift Sport 1.4L turbo!