Home / Reviews / First Drive / Maruti Suzuki Swift (Fourth Generation) Review — New Engine, New Direction

 

Reworked styling, fresh interiors and one cylinder axed. We find out how the new combination works.


Story: Joshua Varghese

Photography: Sanjay Raikar

It was in May 2005 that the Maruti Suzuki Swift was first launched in India. Almost 20 years later, we were in Bengaluru to experience the fourth-generation of the popular hatchback.

In a setting with low light, it is quite difficult to tell the new car apart from the third generation because the silhouette is largely the same. When conditions are brighter, it is easy to distinguish them. The latest Swift has a reworked front end that has tastefully lost the chrome strip across the grille, gained new headlights and tail-lights, and also a fresh bonnet line. My favourite in this makeover are the 15-inch dual-tone wheels. They look the part and fill the wheel arches nicely.

In comparison to the exterior, the cabin has been significantly reworked. However, a sense of familiarity prevails which is difficult to explain because it looks nothing like the car it replaces. The circular a-c vents have been replaced by sleeker shapes and the dashboard itself looks more integrated somehow. Top-spec models also get the nine-inch touchscreen which is among the new attractions in this Swift. It supports wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and in case you are wondering, there is a wireless smartphone charger too. Passengers in the rear seats will be pleased to note that there are a-c vents and chargers for smartphones in the back too. Since changes to cabin dimensions are minimal, this Swift also offers a fairly generous boot space. One that could adequately meet the luggage demands of a small family.

The quality of materials in the cabin are best described with adjectives including ‘robust’ and ‘long-lasting’. Everything from the switches to the driving controls do not inspire one to complain but at the same time, it did not strike me as premium either. Even in this top-spec car, one gets fabric seats but they are so ergonomically sound and comfortable that it did not irk me while driving. I particularly appreciate how most elements in the cockpit are angled slightly towards the driver. It adds to the experience positively.

Under the bonnet lies a new engine altogether. The four-cylinder K series is gone and in its place we have the Z series. To be precise, this is the Z12E and it is a three-cylinder, naturally-aspirated engine. Those who winced at ‘three-cylinder’ will be further disappointed to note that it develops only 82 hp and 112 Nm of torque, which does make it the least powerful petrol engine in a Swift yet. It makes eight hp and about one Nm less than the car it replaces. On the other hand, it is supposed to be a more frugal engine. Transmission options are the same; five-speed manual or five-speed AMT. Maruti Suzuki are claiming up to 24.8 km/litre for the former and up to 25.75 km/litre for the latter.

When pitted against the outgoing model, this Swift may not have much to brag about in terms of performance but as a three-cylinder, naturally-aspirated engine, it is not too bad. The exciting bit of the powerband begins close to 2,000 rpm, moving into a strong mid-range before waning away close to the redline which is at 6,000 rpm. We spent most of our time driving the AMT and during a casual attempt at going from 0-100 km/h, the car reached triple-digit speeds in a little more than 15 seconds, still pulling strongly in third gear.

It is worth noting that Maruti Suzuki have done well to insulate the cabin because although the engine is fairly audible when standing outside the car, inside the cabin there is an admirable level of silence. Not a lot of road noise gets in there. The engine’s refinement levels are impressive too. Until 2,000 rpm, the characteristic vibrations of a triple can be felt at the steering wheel but once past that mark, it is fairly smooth. To drive around in town at a leisurely pace, the services of the AMT in automatic mode are adequate but should one want a bit more involvement in the experience, the manual mode is not too bad. However, for the enthusiast or someone who enjoys the process of driving, I would wholeheartedly endorse the five-speed manual.

The chassis and suspension are set up well to offer a good balance between handling and comfort. With a ride quality that irons out most of the road’s imperfections, the Swift allows one a lot of freedom and peace of mind to enjoy the drive. It contributes well to the experience of following the curves of a quiet, winding road too. Braking is also best described as adequate. Furthermore, it is worth noting that the new Swift offers more safety equipment as standard including six airbags. Of course, NCAP ratings are awaited.

Following my time with the new Swift, I must make it clear that it is a good hatchback that appears to meet the demands of a small urban family quite well. However, it is not the evolution that I hoped it would be because this generation strikes me more as a practical hatchback than a sporty offering. There is no question that it handles well because the car moves like a unit around a curve and responds to driver input well but the experience would have been more enriching if the controls were rich in feedback.

Personally, I feel enthusiasts will be best entertained by an RS version of the Swift. One that offers richer feedback at the steering wheel and a more wholesome experience when shifting through the gears of the manual transmission. If Maruti Suzuki can throw in a turbo-petrol under the bonnet that could sweeten the deal and seal it.

Pricing for the new Swift starts at Rs 6.49 lakh and goes up to Rs 9.65 lakh (ex-showroom). Which does seem reasonable when one takes into account the kit on offer and the current market rates. It is also interesting to note than between the top-spec models of the Hyundai Grand i10 Nios and the new Swift, the former is more accessible by almost a lakh of rupees. Which does make things difficult for the customer who is shopping for a car in that segment. Our bottomline is that someone who is looking for a practical hatchback should certainly give the new Swift a chance because this one is certainly among the most sedate Swifts yet.

Watch the video review here:

Also Read: Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 2024 Review

 

About the author: Joshua Varghese

 

Would gape at fast cars. Still does but now has a chance to drive some of them. Hates driving in traffic but makes up for with a spot of off-roading or the occasional track outing. Insta: @motoknight

 

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