What’s is about
Suzuki is back locally, and aiming to gain a market share in the severely competitive small hatchback segment.
One of the most innovative Oriental manufacturers – from its diminutive yet capable 4×4s to challenging the 1-litre superbike class with 750cc GSXs – Suzuki is pinning hopes for the bulk of its local sales to be generated by the Swift hatchback.
Well specced, with Eurocentric styling and clever engineering, Swift will be keen to temp fiscally-stressed South African customers who are buying down in a market strained by rising interest rates. It’s hardly a new car though, having been available in Europe since the beginning of 2005.
With short overhangs and clean front styling – especially the curved bonnet and distinctive, rectangular headlights – the small Swift (3.75m) cuts a refreshing figure amongst the gaggle of regular small hatches such as Opel’s Corsa, the Mazda2 and Daihatsu’s Sirion.
Not as cute as Mazda2 or rakish as Corsa, Swift’s styling is distinctive without resorting to Pokemonesque Japanese small-car design language.
Despite its diminutive dimensions, the Swift is well kitted out, especially in GLS trim. Weighing in at only 980kg, the 1.5-litre engine, breathing through a double-overhead camshaft head with variable valve timing, provides ample performance with 74kW and 133Nm driving the front wheels through a five-speed manual gearbox – though there’s a four-speed automatic available too.
The low mass renders the use of drum brakes at the rear entirely reasonable and, with ventilated discs up front, the entire system boosted by ABS and brake force distribution and brake assist. Safety is further boosted by the presence of six airbags.