The 3rd generation of an absolute icon - the very popular new Maruti Suzuki Swift - India's most loved hatchback - is here. The new 2018 Swift adds some oomph and also a lot of modernity. The new Maruti Suzuki Swift certainly looks really contemporary straight away. And a lot of that modernity is really coming in from the daytime running lights or DRL. The entire headlamp cluster is well finished. The car's rear sports taillights that wrap around the fenders and complement the new design up front. The two-tone 15" alloys (only on the ZXi+ or ZDI+) are nicely finished. The new 2018 Swift is 40 mm wider, has a 20 mm longer wheelbase, 58 litres more cargo space in the boot, and yet sits 10 mm shorter than the outgoing car. The orange paintwork on my first test car (ZXi+ petrol manual) is a new shade - Lucent Orange. There's a new dark midnight blue, dark grey, white, silver, and the trademark solid red. And yes I have that with me too. The Fire red car with me is the ZDi AGS or automatic. That's a first for Maruti Suzuki - offering petrol and diesel with automatic at the very start on the 2018 Swift.
The face of the 2018 Maruti Suzuki Swift is a lot like the Dzire's in terms of shape, but in terms of attributes, this one is a little sportier. The all-black treatment on the grille is certainly not as ostentatious as the one on the Dzire (which is chrome heavy). On the ZDi and below you don't get the DRLs and even the headlamp design is very plain. To me that's a bit of a miss! It should be a signature on the car and frankly if you ask me, Maruti should think about making that standard from the VDi or the VXi and upwards. The more refined headlamp defines the character of the car - and would tell you it's brand new. Proportions are very much Swift-like. I am very happy that Maruti has retained the red as the primary colour because when you think Swift, you really think of this red colour. The floating roof is a nice design feature and it certainly begs the question - why no contrast roof? And I'm sure that Maruti will offer that at some point maybe on the Icreate or maybe subsequently on a different variant or a model (well at least I hope so). The rear door handle has been concealed up in the C-pillar and it will take some getting used. It does make the car look distinctly different and will stand as a signature of the new Maruti Suzuki Swift. Very pronounced haunches at the back lend a certain character and also make the car look nice and wide.
On the interior of the ZXi+ you get the fully loaded cabin. There is a sense of width that you get from the design of this dash. It adds to that sense of space the Maruti Suzuki Swift always desperately needed. The touchscreen in the central console is a carry over from some of the other models so I won't get into the functionality. (It's exactly the same as what you see on the S-Cross, the Ignis, the Baleno and so it gives you Apple CarPlay and Android Auto). But it's only on the ZDI+ and ZXi+. The climate control system is well executed. It's got a three dial-like design, and the central one is a screen, which has the climate display. The flat-bottom steering wheel, overall plastic quality and the layout will convey that sense of modernity. The instrument cluster is well finished and the dials have a reddish-orange trim which looks nice.
At the back, the cabin gets a bit plain. A little more of an indent or a curvature on the backrest and a little more under thigh support would have been great. The seats not terribly comfortable but what has definitely changed is the sense of space. Better headroom, decent amount of knee room and good amount of legroom compared to the previous Swift. The other little niggling point is that entry hatchbacks now do have rear AC vents but this car doesn't get that. But otherwise that little enhancement of the wheelbase instantly shows up back here. That sense of being cramped - almost a hallmark of the Maruti Suzuki Swift - has finally gone away. So largely good though a plumper rear seat would've been nice. Dual airbags and ABS are standard. And the car also gets Isofix child seat restraints on the rear bench. But the 'plus' variant is not what most people will end up buying so what are you getting on the mid variants? It is disappointing not to see the touchscreen on the ZDi, since it's only on the ZDI/ZXi+.
The music system on the lower variant is still well finished and is integrated well. It still lends that feel from the premiumness of the plastics, and the width I was talking about. The VXI and LXI don't get the climate control system and so the lower variants will seem rather plain and old-world. Maruti needed to have pushed the envelope a bit given how much is standard on cars like the Ford Figo and Hyundai Grand i10. Maruti will also do well to offer the AMT with the ZXI+ and ZDI+ trims as many automatic buyers would want the DRLs and the touchscreen. I expect a variant subsequently as we have seen happen with the Ignis.
Now I am driving both the cars one by one. The petrol first shall we? Maruti Suzuki has gone with its tried and tested duo of engines, the 1.2 K12 petrol and the 1.3 DDiS or Fiat-derived diesel multijet. Many of us motoring hacks are going to get hassled about this - and ask why we aren't getting new engines. This is the 3rd Swift with the same engines! But think about it from the market and the buyers' point of view and Maruti doesn't need to bother! Nothing wrong with these engines. They are nice and efficient; peppy and exciting to drive. But it would still have been nice to have new engines! The petrol engine comes across as refined and well tuned, but its character is rather predictable given how well we know it from the old Swift and the Baleno, and the Ignis. I have driven the new Swift in Europe with the 1-litre boosterjet engine and I have to say that the car is an admirable performer. The engine is raring to go and I really wish that we had that as the standard engine here. Having said that the 1.2 certainly delivers the goods. It's pretty quick, it's nice and responsive with the manual gearbox, it gives you pretty satisfying performance and is really the pick of the pack for me when it comes to the four drivetrain iterations that we are getting.
Remember that you also get the AGS or the AMT version with the petrol and diesel engines On the petrol you get 82 bhp and 113 Nm of torque. We live in hope as there is an indication from Suzuki Japan that India will get the Swift Sport and also likely the petrol-electric hybrid model. So I do think that between now and 2020 Maruti will keep exciting us with much fun on the petrol Swift. Of course there could be some customisation fun too with the contrast roof and other goodies being considered in the future as well. After all the Swift has been a model that's traditionally been the most heavily customised by Maruti buyers.
The diesel engine itself is an absolute gem. It certainly does the job, and has ample torque on it - 190 Nm and the power output is 74 bhp. All numbers are completely unchanged from the outgoing model. The diesel manual should have got the 90 bhp tune on the engine in my opinion. It would have created a superb separation between the AMT and manual too. That would also have created some fun and added to the car's sporty appeal. That said the 74 bhp version is certainly not dull, though the AMT can be. The AMT takes some getting used to and is very convenient to have in city traffic of course. What I would have liked to see of course is Maruti offering the top end also as an option with the AMT. Another miss. The AMT is definitely a lot smoother and changes are quicker than what we have seen on Maruti's first AGS. The drivetrain feels almost exactly like it does on the new Dzire though and again I feel Maruti should have done more to give the Swift its own character.
The big takeaway of the new Heartect platform is the superior ride feel and better handling on the new 2018 Swift. Always a sporty model, the new car does even better. Of course unlike Europe and Japan, we don't get fatter tyres - which would have contributed even more to making the car exceedingly sporty. But the ride quality - even at the rear - is overall the USP of the new car in my opinion.
We await mileage numbers from the company - though I reckon it will be a strong number on both diesel and petrol given what we have seen on the Dzire already.
Prices of the new Swift start at ₹ 4.99 lakh for the petrol going all the way up to ₹ 7.29 lakh for the petrol, while the diesel starts at ₹ 5.99 lakh and goes all the way up to ₹ 8.29 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi). Deliveries will also begin then though bookings opened a long time ago. Maruti has kept prices close to those on the outgoing model, with a difference of nearly ₹ 18,000. And yes if you want one - get in line quickly enough as it will mean a long waiting too for sure.