The Suzuki Swift gets all mature with its premium features and mild hybrid drivetrain, but it is still capable of having fun as well
Photos: Ben Chia & Lionel Kong
It’s amazing to see how much cars have progressed in just 10 years. Back then, features such as adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning systems were only really seen on higher end models from premium brands such as Mercedes-Benz or BMW.
The fact that you’ll be able to find such things on small hatchbacks such as the Suzuki Swift today is nothing short of remarkable. Back in the day, cars like the Swift were simple and cheerful, offering the basic essentials and nothing much else, making them the ideal choice for those seeking fuss-free motoring.
Not that the formula has changed much. The Swift is still a cheerful little runabout that’s perfect for those who want something that’s easy to drive in the city. It’s just that the latest incarnation now offers so much more, and demonstrates that once-premium features can now be had on even the most entry-level of cars.
Fancy tech aside, the Swift has also now been updated. The cosmetic bits are minor, mainly restricted to a new grille that now incorporates a horizontal chrome strip, a new design for the 16-inch alloy wheels, and some new body colour choices.
Likewise, the interior gets a new 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system that offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, as well as a neat colour LCD display that sits in the instrument panel, but that’s really about it as far as the noticeable changes go.
What’s significantly different about the facelifted Swift though is what lies under the bonnet. The previous version’s turbocharged 1.0-litre unit with 110hp and 160Nm of torque has now been jettisoned for a 1.2-litre powerplant that develops 80hp and 107Nm of torque. It sounds like a downgrade, but there’s good reason for the change.
You see, the new unit is a mild hybrid powerplant, and incorporates an Integrated Starter Generator (ISG) that powers some of the car’s electrical components, and takes the load off the engine. A 12V lithium ion battery maintains the system’s charge, but despite the liberal usage of ‘Hybrid’ badges throughout the car, the Swift does not offer the ability to drive on electric power alone.
Nevertheless, the system does go a long way towards enhancing the Swift’s already-impressive fuel efficiency figures. Officially, Suzuki quotes an average of 4.1L/100km, and with careful driving you can probably come pretty close. But even if you’re just using it as a daily runabout without being particularly light-footed, getting somewhere around 5L/100km is still quite an achievable target.
Of course, with just 80hp on tap, the Swift is not exactly a fast car. But for the most part it gets up to speed well, with the mild hybrid system helping at least with initial acceleration. The 1.2-litre engine has a buzzy and energetic nature, and the car does feel quite joyful to rev sometimes, even if it’s only up to about 80km/h or so.
The real joy in driving the Swift though is punting it around corners. Its eager handling is matched with a sense of sure-footedness that allows it to take on the curves confidently. We reckon the high performance Swift Sport would be an absolute hoot to drive, but even without an abundance of power, the regular Swift is still quite entertaining on its own.
If anything, the new Swift feels a bit grown up now. It’s still capable of delivering some fun times when called upon, but mostly it comes across as mature and responsible, as evidenced by its premium safety features and environmentally-conscious mild hybrid drivetrain. Character runs deep though, and beneath all those serious stuff lies a Swift that’s still very much young-at-heart.
Suzuki Swift 1.2
|Engine||1,197cc, inline 4|
|Power||80hp at 6000rpm|
|Torque||107Nm at 2800rpm|
|VES Band / CO2||A2 / Not available|
|Price||S$85,900 with COE|
|Verdict:||New mild hybrid drivetrain and premium features makes the Swift a more mature proposition, while still retaining its fun character|