On May 25, 2005, when Maruti Suzuki launched the Swift hatchback, the step demonstrated its long-term plans for dominating the Indian passenger vehicle market. And what a success story it has turned out to be—the car has sold about 18 lakh units over 13 years. At the Auto Expo 2018, the company launched the new, third-generation Swift. We drive it.
What is the Swift?
It’s a compact hatchback car which, in 2005, created a new segment—called the upper A2—in the Indian passenger vehicle market. What differentiates it from o other hatchback cars is its bold and aggressive design, appealing to the young. The first generation came in 2005 and the second generation in 2011.
How is the new Swift different?
The front gets single-aperture grille, complemented with a sculpted body. The LED projection lamps stand out, as do the car’s strong shoulders. The windshield has a wraparound feel to it, with the daylight opening graphic—essentially the glass area on the sides of the car—extending to the back-door. This gives the car a striking visual, youthful appearance. The rear door handle position has been moved up—almost touching the top of the door—and it might take some getting used to. As compared to the outgoing model, the new Swift is 40mm wider and has a 20mm longer wheelbase, which creates more cabin space.
Is it bigger on the inside?
It’s bigger, but more importantly, it’s better. The cabin is sporty, made of high-quality materials and comfortable. The human machine interface (HMI)—the communication bridge between the driver and the car—is tilted towards the driver. In fact, the HMI has a cockpit-like design and easy-to-use controls. As compared to the outgoing model, the new Swift has 28% more luggage space (58 litres extra), and 24mm more headroom. The rear seat-back angle has been improved, leading to better comfort during long trips.
What kind of technologies does it get?
At the centre of the dashboard sits the 17.72-cm screen, called Smart Play Infotainment, which is compatible with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink. The rear parking camera display appears on the Smart Play screen. Further, it gets voice commands—you can ask the car to change channels or make a phone call—and it understands Indian-accent English.
Is it powered by the same engines?
Yes. The petrol is the 1.2-litre VVT that produces peak power of 82bhp and torque of 113Nm. The diesel is the DDiS 190 unit that produces peak power of 74bhp and torque of 190Nm. However, various engineering innovations have ensured both better driving performance and fuel-efficiency. The result is the diesel returns a claimed fuel-efficiency of 28.4kpl (12.7% higher than the outgoing model) and the petrol returns 22kpl (7.8% higher). Both diesel and petrol get the Auto Gear Shift technology, or AMT, as an option.
So, does it drive better?
The Swift has always been a driver’s car, and the new Swift retains that character. It’s built on the new Heartect platform and its weight has been reduced by 85kg, helping improve its power-to-weight ratio, thus better acceleration—0-100kph performance has been enhanced by 10%—and better handling (because of a stronger, more rigid platform). However, moving beyond mere acceleration and handling, a major improvement is in the area of NVH (noise, vibration and harshness). The NVH levels are extremely low, which leads to better comfort inside the cabin.
What safety features does it get?
Dual front airbags, ABS with EBD, and ISOFIX (child seat restraint system) are standard across all variants.
Is it a better buy than competitors?
Prices for the petrol model start at Rs 4.99 lakh, to Rs 6.96 lakh. Prices for the diesel start at Rs 5.99 lakh, to Rs 7.96 lakh. Its closest competitor is Hyundai Grand i10, which is priced lower. However, the latter has started to show its age and is not as equipped a car as the new Swift. More importantly, the Swift appeals to the youth as far as design and technologies are concerned, and equally appeals to families because of a comfortable, spacious cabin.