New Swift to revive Suzuki’s Singaporean fortunes?



New Suzuki Swift launches in Singapore this July with new showroom, Jimny SUV and SX4 S-Cross in the pipeline for late 2018/2019

 

Text: Leow Ju-Len, Derryn Wong

SINGAPORE

Japanese brand Suzuki has seen a sales slowdown in recent years, due to a confluence of factors, but its fortunes may change for the better in the second half of 2018.

July 27 sees the return of its best-selling model, the Swift compact hatchback. Two new models, the SX4 S-Cross, and Jimny,  may also join the Suzuki roster in late 2018-2019.

The unveiling of the new Swift, however, will take place at a new showroom on 10 Chang Charn Road, opposite the Orchard Credit Building.

The Suzuki showroom was previously at Ubi, it then shifted to The Alexcier (shown above), on Alexandra Road, in late 2016.

Suzuki’s Ciaz sedan failed to make a big impact, and was killed by new emissions laws

The brand, long known for its excellent range of smaller cars including small crossovers, sedans and hatchbacks, was hit hard by rampaging COE prices after 2009.

Sales in 2007 hit a decade-or-so high of 4,158 units, but they shrunk to a mere 85 units in 2013. That was a year where Category A COEs never went below the $60,000 mark, and reached as high as $92,000.  

It wasn’t alone in the sales slump, with high COEs sounding a death knell for cheaper cars – Toyota sold less than a quarter of its 2007 high (27,574 units), while Kia and Hyundai saw their sales shrink to roughly a tenth of their 2007 figures.

The current Vitara is the sole model in Suzuki’s lineup, but that’s set to change very soon

Up until now, Suzuki also faced the additional challenge too: The brand’s model line-up has shrunk. Since mid-2017, its sole offering has been the fourth-gen Vitara sport utility vehicle (SUV)/crossover, with the Ciaz small sedan, Swift and Swift Sport, and crossover SX4 S-Cross being dropped from the line-up.

Some of these models were phased out after the introduction of Euro VI regulations, which apply to all new cars in Singapore sold after 2017, while disadvantageous Vehicular Emissions Scheme (VES) penalties accounted for others.

Swift on the uptake
The biggest boost Suzuki might get is from the scheduled return of the Swift hatchback. Long the best-seller of the line-up here, and around the world, since its debut in 1982, the latest version was announced at the 2017 Geneva Motorshow.

 

As first reported in CarBuyer,  the Swift was initially planned for a second-half of 2017 launch with a 1.2-litre naturally-aspirated engine, but has been delayed until now – the official launch with local distributor Champion Motors is set for July 27 2018.

The new model runs on a brand new platform (Suzuki’s Heartect) which is stiffer and lighter than before.

At 3,840mm long, with a 2,450mm wheelbase, the new Swift is shorter than the previous model, but has a longer wheelbase and presumably more interior room.

Specs at a glance: Suzuki Swift 1.0
111hp, 160Nm torque
1.0-litre, 3-cylinder, turbocharged
0-100km/h 10.0 seconds, 190km/h top speed
5.0L/100km, 114g/km

The sole engine option for Singapore is the new three-cylinder Boosterjet engine, which comes with direct-injection and turbocharging, for 111hp, 160Nm of torque and a provisional 5.0L/100km efficiency.

A six-speed automatic transmission is standard, and unlike previously, there’s probably no manual option.

Suzuki claims the new model is 10 percent lighter, and proportionally as fuel efficient and clean. Despite the impressive looking figures, the 1.0 already attracts a $10k VES penalty, for instance – VES seems to hit Japanese cars harder, likely due to particulate matter (PM emissions). 

Part of Suzuki’s problem with lack of models came from the old 1.6-litre engine, which incurred a $20,000 VES penalty, so it’s just as well it’ll be replaced by the 1.4-litre Boosterjet engine. That engine will find a home under the bonnet of the current Vitara eventually, as well as another iconic Suzuki model.

The Suzuki Swift Sport, already announced and on sale overseas, is also being considered for Singapore. If it is launched, the car, which has the 1.4-litre Boosterjet engine with 140hp, will only debut in 2019 though.

Thus far, the new Swift has had a warm welcome around the globe. In May 2018, Suzuki announced a global total of six million units sold to date, as well as being the brand’s top-selling model in Australia, a right-hand drive market quite similar to ours.

The car was also recently voted runner-up in the Urban category for World Car Of The Year.

 

New Blood

There’s more than just a mainstay arriving for Suzuki, though. It will bulk out its model range with the addition of two more SUV/crossovers:the SX4 S-Cross (above), and the Jimny 4×4.

Specs at a glance: Suzuki SX4 S-Cross 1.0
112hp and 170Nm torque
1.0-litre, 3-cylinder, turbocharged
0-100km/h 12.4 seconds, 170km/h top speed
5.2L/100km, 119g/km


The SX4 is a mainstream crossover offering from Suzuki, there also used to be an SX4 sedan. It’s been around since 2013, the second-gen model, and has recently undergone a major facelift in international markets. That encompasses a visual revamp, and the introduction of the Boosterjet engines replacing the old 1.6-litre.

 

Specs at a glance: Suzuki Jimny 1.0
1.0-litre, 3-cylinder, turbocharged
Ladder frame, part-time AWD with low-range,
Rigid axle suspension

The Jimny  is also a small SUV, but in contrast to most of the crossovers on sale now, it’s a proper, rugged 4×4 capable of real off-roading, with an established history and much love from off-road enthusiasts around the world.

Suzuki recently released the first official images of the car, along with a few details – it will have a ladder frame, rigid suspension and part-time all-wheel drive with a low-range transfer case. In other words, on paper it has serious off-road chops. The fact that it looks like a miniature Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen surely helps in the style department too.

With a larger facility, expanded and relevant model line-up, as well as better COE prices, it looks like Suzuki’s return to form may be swift indeed.

 

about the author

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Derryn Wong
Has a keen interest in all things mechanical, technological, animal and mineral. Is particularly fascinated by eco-cars and cars which make no logical sense. An avid motorcyclist and photographer, he also enjoys cats.