It looks bold, and it looks very promising indeed! That is the new Suzuki Swift – and we are in Nice, France for its global drive. Well, to be specific, we drove the car on the French Cote d'Azur. So first up let us clarify this is the European model we are driving and the India spec that Maruti Suzuki will launch in February 2018 will have certain differences. But it will still essentially be the same new generation Swift! The car stands out with its wide shoulders and a powerful stance. It's got a large almost Audi-esque front grille, and a body that's lower by 15 mm over the previous gen.
Maruti Suzuki Swift
New Maruti Suzuki Swift Front Left Quarter
While the wheelbase has grown by 50 mm, the Swift is altogether 10 mm shorter, resulting in extra short overhangs. Unlike its predecessor, this Swift is not just a slightly larger carbon copy of the previous generation. And thank God for that! So you could say it comes with its own unique personality. The floating roof adds to that by also giving Suzuki the option of contrast roof colours.
New Maruti Suzuki Swift Front Right Quarter
The rear door handle integrates up into the C-pillar – a design feature that will be polarising for sure. But we have already told you what we think of the car’s looks from the 2017 Geneva Motor Show. The longer wheelbase means that the Swift is more spacious than before. This is crucial since despite being popular the Swift has always had a reputation for being cramped especially in the back. The seating is more comfortable than on the previous generation. There is more shoulder room, and the redesigned seats are mounted lower. That means significantly more rear headroom despite the lower roofline. The rear legroom is also significantly enhanced. The boot has grown by 54 litres to a volume of 265 litres (which expands to 947 litres with the rear seats folded down.
New Maruti Suzuki Swift Rear
But it's not perfectly shaped: The loading sill is uncomfortably high, and when the rear seats are folded down, there is a noticeable step in the load floor. The cockpit is clean and ergonomic, with the central stack tilted slightly towards the driver; this BMW-like feature (just like the flat-bottom steering wheel) underscores the sporting proclivities of the new Swift. The driving dynamics is where the real story begins, and they in fact are impeccable: The new generation of this sporty car weighs just 840 kilograms - an almost incredible 120 kg less than before. But the new platform is still stiffer and safe, thanks to the use of high-strength steel.
The weight-loss results in a far more agile driving experience. Since Suzuki has put the car on such a rigid diet, the engines have it easy: The entry-level version for Europe is powered by the 1.2-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with 90 horsepower. This will be the staple model for India no doubt, but it is available in Europe with front- and all-wheel drive, and is mated to a slick-shifting five-speed manual. It propels the Swift to 100 kmph in 11.9 seconds; top speed is a fully adequate 180 kmph.
New Maruti Suzuki Swift Profile
We were even more impressed by the optional 1.0-litre three-cylinder boosterjet turbo that's rated at 112 horsepower. And yes this is the same engine as the Baleno RS and is tuned to offer more power in the European Swift. It is supremely responsive and characterised by the typical, sporty three-cylinder soundtrack. 0-100 kmph comes up in 10.6 seconds, and top speed is an impressive 195 kmph. This engine can be specified with a mild-hybrid system (yes you guessed it – the SHVS system) that includes an electric starter-generator. But it will take a lot of kilometres to recover the extra cost of the system.
We are likely to get its 100 bhp avatar in a possible Swift RS that will follow the Swift in India. The top-of-the-line engine, a 1.4-liter boosterjet four-cylinder turbo with 138 bhp, will be available next year – though India is unlikely to get it. Some markets – including India – will get the 1.3 diesel of course. But that variant was not available to us on our road test, though it will be offered in many European markets subsequently. The chassis is tuned to be on the sporty side, and road holding is frankly rather good. Still, the Swift is comfortable enough to filter out most potholes, and it is a capable long-distance car. The stiff platform means that there is noticeably less noise and vibration than before. The Indian Swift is likely to be a touch softer though.
New Maruti Suzuki Swift Dashboard
The black interior with white and matte chrome contrast elements gives the new Swift a high-quality aura. Technology geeks will appreciate the 4.2-inch multi-functional display, but they will love the optional infotainment system with a 7-inch screen and Apple Car Play or Android Auto functionality. Again you may have guessed that this is the same screen and system seen in the top spec Ciaz, Baleno, Vitara Brezza and Ignis. Europe sees market rollouts beginning in May – and that includes France where drove the little hatch. It is not the cheapest offering in its segment, but it is one of the most dynamic ones - and certainly worth your attention when it gets to India.
New Maruti Suzuki Swift Cabin
The Swift now has to take on the Grand i10, Tiago, and very capable Figo. So while it has its work cut out for it, there is no doubt Maruti will bring us a compelling, well-featured car. Of course we get the new generation Swift family in the form of the Swift Dzire subcompact sedan that arrives earlier than the hatch in just a few weeks from now.