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Road Test

Suzuki Swift S

by Ian Barrett

3rd February, 2008

Suzuki Swift S 
Location: Abbotsford, NSW 
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Suzuki is, once again, a strong player in the Australian small car marketplace. Back in the 80's and 90's, Suzuki had a quite a successful formula, with their stylish, practical and innovative Swift models proving to be big hits with buyers. But when these were eventually outpaced in the mid-nineties by more modern offerings from rival manufacturers, the company, seemingly, had nothing in their corporate small car catalogue to lure buyers back into showrooms. Until recently that is. Times are changing and Suzuki is back making its presence felt once more with a broader range, in fact with the bold claim that "there's a Suzuki for every way of life."

We've been seeing a lot of the new Suzuki Swift and the car is, obviously, a winning formula. So we were very happy to, once again, spend some time behind the wheel of Suzuki's top seller. Our test vehicle was a Swift 'S' with 4-speed automatic transmission. It featured a striking Pearl Red paintwork, highlighting the distinctive "European-inspired" styling. It's a touch slab-sided for some tastes, but there's little doubt that it has just the right 'look' for a lot of first car buyers in the market for a small economical 5-door hatchback.

In 2008, fuel economy should be a high priority. And the Swift delivers. Suzuki quote 6.7 litres/100 kms (combined cycle) and we recorded 7.0 litres/100 kms overall for our test week, which covered 850 kilometres of city and highway travel. Not bad for a small petrol-engined automatic with only 4 gears and tipping the scales at 1,040 kgs. The 1.5 litre, 16 valve engine equipped with variable valve timing (VVT) manages 74 kW @ 6,000 rpm and 133 Nm @ 4,000 rpm. Far from exciting numbers, but the engine is a beauty. Smooth, quiet, flexible and a willing worker. It's happy to trundle along at 1,500 rpm under light load in 4th, while cruising at the 110 km/h with only 2,800 rpm on the tachometer. This means fairly relaxed highway cruising and even on New South Wales F3's toughest climbs, the automatic Swift was mostly able to maintain speed without swapping ratios.

Suspension is taken care of with McPherson struts up the front and torsion beam with coils at the rear. Handling and ride comfort are at the better end of the scale on smooth bitumen, but the Swift is easily unsettled once the going gets rough, as can happen on much of our road network. Front ventilated discs and rear drums, take care of braking quite adequately. Today, safety is paramount and it's pleasing to see ABS with EBD (electronic brake force distribution) fitted as standard across the Swift range. However, only the top-of-the-line 1.6 litre 'Sport' model has ESP.

Suzuki Swift S 
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Other mandatory safety items include side impact beams, height adjustable front seat belts with pre-tensioners and load limiters, together with industry-standard ISO-FIX child seat restraint system. Overall, the Swift earns a good 4-star safety rating.

The 'S' model we tested comes with the addition of side and curtain airbags. We consider the additional cost of the S to be well worth it on this basis alone. But also included in the package are a few additional extras, including attractive 6-spoke, 15-inch alloy wheels and front fog lamps. Fit and finish, both inside and out, are top rate.

All Swifts come equipped with the usual items we've come to expect, even in entry-level cars, such as power steering, air conditioning (with pollen filter), remote central locking with immobiliser, power windows, 6-speaker AM/FM radio/single CD player with MP3 compatability and adjustable steering column (tilt only). Worthy of note is the inclusion of a leather-bound steering wheel (with audio controls) right across the Swift range.

Seating offers quite reasonable comfort and support. There is a good range of adjustment, with the driver's seat being height adjustable. We think the choice of seat fabric and door trim inserts are a cut above average, and particularly pleasing to our eye. On the other hand, we did find the interior styling somewhat bland, especially the centre dashboard/console area. Front and rear leg and head room are satisfactory for four adults, at least for medium distance commutes. Other useful convenience items in the cabin are outside temperature and fuel consumption (average and instantaneous) displays, front seat undertray, seatback pocket and shopping hook (all passenger side only).

The Swift has just enough boot space to handle a load of shopping bags, however the boot tray does feature a clever lift up lid which reveals a useful extra concealed space below. Of course, the 60:40 split rear seat can always be folded down, to more than double the available load area. And Suzuki, thankfully, do provide a full-sized (steel) spare wheel.

Suzuki Swift S 
Location: Abbotsford, NSW 
Click on the image for a larger view

For those buyers wanting their own distinctive look, the Swift can be optioned with a wide selection of attractive and practical accessories. These include such desirables as cruise control, CD-stacker, rear parking sensors, satellite navigation, floor and dash mats, alloy pedals and rear upper spoiler. Active outdoor types are also well catered for with such items as bicycle, surf board and snow ski carriers, which all integrate with Suzuki's roof rack set.

Pricing (RRP) of the Swift 'S' with automatic transmission is $19,990, plus on-road costs. Metallic/Mica paint is a $300 option on all Swift models. The base model Suzuki Swift with manual transmission is priced from $15,990 (RRP), with automatic transmission being optional at $2,000. The Swift 'S' manual is priced from $17,990 (RRP).

All Suzukis come with a 3 year/100,000km warranty.

The Suzuki Swift 'S' is a safe, stylish and economical car, with light controls making for ease of driving. It's no real surprise that it's proving quite a popular choice with buyers.

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Other Suzuki content: here.

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