- Published: Wednesday, 28 December 2016 11:31
An all-new Suzuki Swift is on the horizon. Can it recapture the magic of Suzuki's best-known car?
DETAILS OF THE all-new Suzuki Swift are out, and they show that one of our favourite hatchbacks has been given a thorough revamp all-round.
Some of the biggest changes are under the bonnet. In Japan the car has been launched with a choice of three drivetrains: 1.2-litre, four-cylinder with 91 horsepower, a 1.2-litre hybrid, and a 1.0-litre direct injection turbo, good for 102 horsepower and 150Nm of peak torque.
Gone is the 1.4-litre that currently powers the car.
The hybrid version (pictured above) adds a small motor that chips in with a tiny boost of 50Nm and, at times, up to 2.3kW of power. The total system output stays at 91 horsepower, meaning the motor assist is more for acceleration than top speed.
Still, that’s enough to improve fuel efficiency by around 35 percent, and the Swift Hybrid gets up to 27.4km per litre in Japan’s JC08 testing regime (lop off roughly a third of that distance for Singapore conditions).
The 1.2-litre versions (both standard and Hybrid) are available with either a five-speed manual or CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission), while the range topping Swift RSt pairs the turbo engine with a six-speed auto only.
Naturally, the basic 1.2 Swift (pictured below, in red) is the cheapest model, but in Japan the Hybrid RS retails for around $2,600 more. That could be offset by CEVS rebates (and make the Hybrid cheaper than the standard 1.2), but with the Green incentive scheme expiring in the middle of 2017, the car industry is waiting to see how it will be revamped before it can identify any models that are able to take advantage.
Meanwhile, the RSt sits at the top of the Swift range for now, and gets our vote for being launched here as the model for people who think fondly of Suzuki’s most famous hatchback as a peppy car that’s fun to drive. Its 1.0-litre turbo qualifies it for the cheaper Category A COE, which improves its chances of being added to the Singapore line-up.
Design-wise, the new Swift mixes organic curves with neat styling details, like a hidden rear door handle and the ‘floating roof’ design that seems to have taken the Japanese car industry by storm. There are daytime running strips up front, while the rear of the car looks altogether more posh than before.
Overall the Swift makes enough of a visual break from its predecessor to signal its newness — something the existing model failed to do.
Meanwhile, the interior looks fairly neat but sporty, and there's been some change to the car's space packaging. The Swift is built on an all-new platform that adds stiffness and subtracts weight, but it also adds 20mm to the wheelbase, which suggests more rear legroom.
Mind you, the the coupe-like rear door treatment means there's less window area for rear passengers, which might create the illusion of less space back there.
The new Swift is actually 10mm shorter than the current model, but engineers have somehow managed to carve out more space in the boot. There's now 265 litres available back there, before you fold the rear seats and expand it to 579 litres.
Features-wise, the new Swift is likely to come with a touchscreen infotainment system that’s available with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.
A closer view of the instrument panel shows a full colour TFT screen. Apart from the usual drive info like fuel consumption figures, it can apparently display things like power output, a playful feature. In Japan you can add autonomous emergency braking and a 360-degree above-view parking camera, which are fairly "big car" features for a little Suzuki.
Still, the Swift will likely play to its existing strengths of being a fun car to drive both in and out of the city. Suzuki says the suspension has been tuned in Europe, while a revised power steering system keeps it easy to handle in town. The turning circle is a tiny 9.7m, which should make light work of both parking and U-turns.
We’ll find out which Swifts make it to Singapore in 2017, most likely in the second half of the year. The global unveiling of the car (it only exists officially in Japan at the moment) is expected to take place at the Geneva motor show in March, with exports commencing soon after. Even if early examples land here in April, it could take another two to three months before it's finally approved for sale in Singapore.
There's been no mention of a Swift Sport, but if it does happen it will likely end up in Category B limbo. That's because we're guessing it would be powered by the 140 horsepower, 220Nm engine that's found in the Vitara S 1.4 turbo that Suzuki sells in other markets. All all the new Swift variants to appear, that's the one we wish would hurry up and live up to its name.
The new Swift isn't the only new hybrid on the block. Here's one from Korea. We're the first to drive it, and it's shockingly good...