New car report; Fun, safe and affordable
The phenomenal sales success of the outgoing Suzuki Swift highlights the fact a car can sell in big numbers based more around good looks and excellent pricing rather than class leading technology or performance.
It’s not often designers come up with the perfect recipe and produce a car which can appeal to such a wide and diverse audience.
New vehicle sales figures highlight the popularity of the Swift in NZ. When the buying public were asked to put their hands into their own pockets in 2010, the Swift came out as the number one vehicle of choice and was only beaten by the ever popular business and rental favourite, the Toyota Corolla in total sales.
More than 20,000 examples of the current generation Swift are now on New Zealand roads.
Thanks largely to the popularity of the Swift, the Suzuki brand now enjoy a record market penetration of 7.1 per cent in NZ.
The massive challenge facing the design team was to come up with a concept which retained the car’s overall character while making improvements to interior space, refinement and safety.
“Remarkably, while the new model is larger than before and has higher levels of equipment, it actually weighs less,” said Bill Grice, chief executive officer for Suzuki New Zealand.
In spite of the increase in body size and a more lavish specification, the weight of the new Swift in manual form is 1,005 kg - 35 kg less than its predecessor. The car in automatic transmission form falls from 1,060 kg to 1,035 kg.
Engineers made suspension weight savings in the rear axle design and brakes while the anti lock braking and electronic stability control unit is one of the smallest in the industry. In an effort to find every possible weight saving advantage a revised retention arrangement for the steering support saves another kilogram in a car that may be lighter but is also stronger.
The latest Swift is 3,850 mm long - a 90 mm increase on the outgoing model. The wheelbase is up 40mm to 2,430mm, body width increases only slightly to 1,695 mm and overall height rises 10mm.
The front seats which incorporate side airbags have been redesigned, helping boost rear passenger legroom by 27 mm. The seatback on each front seat curves inward to create 27 mm more legroom than before, and the rear foot space is 30 mm wider than the old Swift.
Folding rear seats are slit 60/40, and the 210 litre luggage area includes a lower luggage board on GLX and LTD. With the rear seat folded to an almost completely flat floor, boot volume increases to 533 litres.
A strong emphasis on safety across the range is evident by the fitment of Electronic Stability Control (ESP), traction control and an airbag package which totals seven potential life savers including a knee airbag.
Complementing the safety package is a body shell comprising high strength steel which also reduces body weight. Three child seatbelt anchorages are provided in the rear including two ISOFIX anchorages.
The Swift notably exceeded the thresholds for a coveted 5 Star Euro NCAP safety rating.
The new 1.4litre twin overhead camshaft engine is lighter, more fuel efficient, and has lower internal friction than the outgoing 1.5litre engine. The engine has been built with a longer stroke to bore ratio which improves the useable torque. An electronic fly-by-wire throttle enables the Swift to run 91 octane petrol.
It produces 70kW of power at 6,000 rpm against 75kW for the previous Swift but the emphasis on low and mid-range performance makes the new power train more user-friendly. Maximum torque of 130Nm is down 3Nm on the older power unit.
Compared to the previous Swift, the new engine produces 12% lower CO2 emissions in manual transmission form and 10.4% less in automatic transmission guise.
The official combined fuel cycle for the 5-speed manual model is 14.7% more economical, improving from 6.3L/100 km to 5.5L/100 km.
The automatic version is 8.1% more fuel efficient with a mixed cycle figure of 6.2L/100 km compared to 6.7L/100 km for the outgoing model. Special low rolling resistance tyres improve fuel economy and quietness.
In an effort to help reduce servicing costs, the new engine employs chain drives for the overhead camshafts rather than belts.
Three new Swifts are offered initially; a base model GL manual, and GLX and LTD models, in either manual or automatic guise. The current base model XE Auto and 1.6litre Sport will continue until unsold stock has exhausted.
The LTD version comes standard with 16-inch alloys with 185/55 R16 low-profile tyres while the GL and GLX Swifts are equipped with 15-inch steel wheels and 175/65 R15 tyres.
On GLX and LTD models the on-board computer shows instant fuel consumption, average consumption, range on remaining fuel, outside air temperature and time. A USB socket is also standard.
While the fitment of a four-stage automatic transmission only was something of an initial disappointment, our press day drive soon alleviated any doubts with the engine and transmission combining beautifully.
Prices start at $19990 for the base model manual and top out at $24,990 for the LTD auto. The previous model Sport will retail for $26,990.
Instantly recognisable, but unmistakably new, really does sum up the fifth generation all-new Suzuki Swift.