Bright and bubbly hatch which is bucking the sales trend
During the halcyon days of Australian manufacturing the Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon battled it out for sales supremacy.
They became part of the landscape and memorable family members. After peaking in the 1990s, things slowly unravelled in the new millennium.
Take a look at the sales figures and there’s a similar pattern emerging for passenger cars. While the pandemic delivered a challenging 2020 for the industry, the humble sedan and hatch face an uphill battle.
Across the nation passenger vehicle sales were down nearly 30 per cent last year as the lure of SUVs and dual-cab utes proved irresistible.
One little battler bucking the trend in Queensland was the Suzuki Swift. The compact hatch managed to improve sales last year despite the light car segment declining by more than 33 per cent.
Aided by a starting price of $18,990 for the base manual model, the Swift has become a well regarded and instantly recognisable member of the automotive fraternity.
Series two variants arrived late last year with a range of changes to improve the value offering and keep pace with the competition. Our experience was in the GLX, which sits just below the Sport variant and can be in traffic for $26,290.
Across the range the Swift now has a digital speedo featured within an LCD dash and rear speakers. From the outside, Series II variants are set apart by a honeycomb style grille.
Headline new inclusions for the GLX are a 4.2-inch colour display for the driver, along with different 16-inch alloy wheels. Carry-over features include push-button start, seven-inch colour touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, auto aircon and paddle shifters on the leather-clad steering wheel.
Seven external colours are available, with the metallic options of blue, red, pearl and silver, pearlescent white and black, along with grey.
Capped price servicing is available, but due to the turbocharged engine, intervals are annual or every 10,000km at an average price of $295 for the first five maintenance visits. Naturally aspirated Swift models are slightly less expensive, yet can travel up to 15,000km between services.
All Suzukis now have a five-year unlimited kilometre warranty. Most mainstream manufacturers offer the same, with Mitsubishi boasting the best at 10 years or 200,000km (as long as you maintain servicing with a dealer), while Kia, SangYong and MG offer seven years.
Improvements have been made with the Series II variants, with all but the two base models now coming with lane departure warning and a weaving alert to remind the driver if they wander. Also standard is blind spot monitoring to avoid sideswiping incidents, rear cross traffic alert which is brilliant to avoid fast approaching vehicles while reversing out of carparks, and rear parking sensors.
The Swift has a five-star safety rating that was awarded back in 2017, and while the GLX has adaptive cruise control that can maintain set distances from other vehicles and autonomous emergency braking (AEB) to help lessen or avoid frontal impacts, it is missing some of the latest gear mandatory for a top crash score. Active lane steering that can keep the hatch within clearly painted lines is not available, nor is AEB in reverse or cross junction assist that helps peer around corners and stops the car if there is oncoming traffic.
Surprisingly roomy, the Swift can handle four adults without generating claustrophobic feelings. Thin windscreen pillars and large windows offer good unimpeded vision for the front passengers.
Rear leg and kneeroom is fine for taller occupants as long as those in the front don’t shift too far rearward.
Like all Swifts, there is a lot of hard plastics used through the cabin. It’s an uncomplicated layout, and lacks some useful storage locations through the console for modern necessities like large mobile phones.
Two cup holders in the console can only handle takeaway coffee-sized drinks, but there are bottle holders in each door.
Boot space, too, is limited, and our weekly family grocery shop spilt into the back seat.
The rear seat backs do fold 60-40, and it managed to swallow an adult-sized bike with the front wheel removed.
Under the skin is a “Boosterjet” turbocharged three-cylinder engine … although the name is a misnomer. Compared to the non-turbo donk in base Swift derivatives, it has 16 extra kilowatts and 25 per cent more torque at 160Nm. That adds up to zesty performance, although not enough to throw passengers into the seat backs or have you giggling like a schoolgirl.
Those chasing firepower would be more suited to the Swift Sport that offers impressive athleticism. The GLX sits one rung below and maintains the planted stance, direct steering and confident handling without the hard-edge trade-offs.
Off the line it’s responsive to right-foot urges and it’s a reliable performer. The Swift has traditionally possessed adept cornering prowess and the GLX is a willing participant when it comes to rapid changes in direction.
The six-speed automatic delivers timely changes, although for those with a penchant for swapping cogs, there are steering wheel-mounted shifters for manual-style control. Possessing a conventional auto box is a big tick, with the continuously variable transmission used in other models often maligned for its slow response.
Around town is where the Swift does its best work. With a turning circle of less than nine metres and measuring only 3845mm long, the tightest suburban carparks offer few challenges.
Highway travel also brings a reasonable amount of road rumble, especially on coarse chip surfaces. At 100km/h the Swift gets along at just over 2000rpm, ensuring it remains efficient on longer journeys. Our test returned average fuel usage of 5.7 litres of premium unleaded for every 100km.
Suzuki has a fine reputation for longevity and reliability, and the Swift doesn’t lose personality in the process of dependability.
Cute looks and good performance tick all the boxes at an affordable price.
Toyota Yaris Ascent Sport $26,940 D/A
An all-new offering in the tiddler class, this price is for the 88kW/145Nm 1.5-litre 3-cyl petrol variant with an automatic CVT. Claims fuel usage of 4.9L/100km and has superior safety systems.
VW Polo 70TSI Trendline $22,990 D/A
Rated as a benchmark performer in this realm, this price is on offer until the end of March. Under the bonnet is a turbocharged 1.0-litre 3-cyl generating 70kW/175Nm with an auto box.
Suzuki’s Swift has an ability to generate smiles. It’s all-round driving ability is equally grin-inducing in another capable and adept offering from the brand.
AT A GLANCE
Suzuki Swift GLX
PRICE $26,290 drive-away (good buying)
WARRANTY/SERVICING 5yr unlimited km warranty (good); 5 services $1475 (fine)
ENGINE 1.0-litre 3-cyl 85kW/160Nm, FWD, auto (consistent)
SAFETY 5 star (2017), 6 airbags, AEB, adaptive cruise, lane departure warning, rear cross traffic alert (OK)
THIRST 5.1L/100km (5.7 on test)
SPARE Space-saver (standard for genre)
BOOT 242/556 (small)