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In a country obsessed with utes and SUVs we have forgotten the ‘less is more’ philosophy. The biggest isn't always the best, neither is the most powerful for that matter. Lucky for us Suzuki has never strayed too far from its core ideals.
Suzuki is a brand in form. The Japanese marque’s newer models haven't just arrived with fresh sheet metal, they’ve arrived with a renewed purpose.
If you haven’t been fortunate enough to drive one of Suzuki’s recent offerings, quite simply, you’re missing out. I can only liken this phenomenon to rediscovering British rock icons, Oasis. When the Gallagher brothers finally get back on your playlist, you question why they ever disappeared in the first place.
This brings us to the new Swift, the model that carries the weight of Suzuki’s success in Australia. When Suzuki say ‘new Swift’ it’s not just the marketing department getting overexcited. This model is built on a new platform, with a new engine, so yeah, it’s new.
On test here is the high-point of the new Swift range, the GLX Turbo, priced at a competitive $22,990 drive-away.
To get this review underway, let’s deal with the Suzuki’s few shortcomings.
Firstly, the inconvenient 6 month/10,000km service intervals remain despite a newly developed 1.0-litre Boosterjet engine. Surely, new technology can allow Suzuki to lengthen the intervals. The costs are reasonable at an average of $245 a throw, however, the short turnarounds do detract from the GLX Turbo’s ownership credentials.
Secondly, a three year/100,000km warranty is no longer competitive in the context of the Australian new car market. Already this year, Skoda and Honda have made the permanent move to a five-year package, while Holden is dipping its toe in the water by offering seven years until the end of December.
Thirdly, and this is a first-world problem, there’s no centre armrest for those sitting in the front. A minor issue, but one that could easily be rectified.
Now to the good stuff. The Suzuki Swift GXL Turbo is one of the best advertisements for brilliant driving dynamics without parting with silly money. There’s nothing pretentious here, the quest for badge credibility that occupies the mind of plenty of motorists needs to be left at the garage door. There’s also no silly slogans to tell you what an ultimate driving machine the Swift GLX Turbo is. Here’s something shocking, cool people don’t advertise how cool they are, this is what this car is all about, an understated level of cool. If you’re a keen driver and enjoy sporty handling there’s some genuine fun to be had in the Swift Turbo.
The new drivetrain consists of a 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine that looks very skinny on paper, it’s good for 82kW and 160Nm. It doesn’t look like much and can easily be dismissed as too small, however, power and speed are not the only ingredients required to deliver an engaging driving experience.
Like the new Ignis, the Swift GLX Turbo is a featherweight with the kerb weight coming in at 915kg. There’s not that much car to move around.
For the Swift GLX Turbo Suzuki have deployed a traditional torque converter automatic to send power to the front wheels. Lovers of the classics will appreciate its character and smooth shifts. The GLX is also equipped with paddle shifters for those wanting to utilise the manual mode.
Underneath the sheet metal is a new-generation platform that brings increased rigidity. Now to take advantage of the new underpinnings and to see the Swift GLX Turbo excel, you need some bends. It’s a great car on a twisty section of road.
As expected, the Swift Turbo balances agility with surefootedness. The brilliant steering feel has just enough resistance to nail the car’s sporting flavour.
The suspension is a little on the firm side when compared to similarly sized cars, but this just adds a little more depth to the dynamic credibility.
When you’re in a hurry the Swift shows enough pace to keep up with traffic, it’s one of those cars that feels faster than it is. When pushed to get a brisk takeoff, the Swift Turbo shows plenty of hustle. The new Turbo engine offers low down thrust that naturally aspirated competitors will struggle to match.
Around town, the Swift is in its element. Overall manoeuvrability is outstanding, as it should be for a car with a compact footprint.
Out on the highway, the wind and road noise does go up, but it wasn’t enough to interrupt my podcasts. After a two-hour highway stint, the Swift proved itself to be comfortable. The seats are very supportive with plenty of bolstering.
The Swift GLX Turbo offers a satisfying drive, it’s an easy car to like and enjoy. Even novice drivers will find satisfaction with the Swift Turbo, all the available performance is usable. Buyers won't be paying for kilowatts that can only be extracted by a professional on a track.
It’s also remarkably efficient, after covering the best part of 700 kilometres, the consumption figure came in at 5.2L/100km. The claimed figure of 5.1L/100km could easily be dusted with a light foot.
For this new generation Swift, the design has matured, it now brings some much-needed masculinity which is most noticeable with the aggressively styled front end. It’s now a car that uses sharper lines to chisel some definition into its stance.
It’s a purposeful looking exterior, with some additional flare courtesy of the floating roof, 16-inch alloys wheels, LED headlamps and a larger grille.
There’s also the rear door handles which are concealed in the blacked out c-pillars, this gives the appearance of a three-door coupe.
Moving to the inside, it’s a sporty themed layout. There’s a lovely D-shaped steering wheel and the climate controls and touch screen are angled towards the driver.
The interior materials are on the hard side which is acceptable in a car at this price. The white accents on the dash and door cards bring some much-needed colour to break up the dark hues.
Not including a digital speedo is a strange decision, the screen that sits neatly inside the instrument cluster could easily incorporate one.
Suzuki’s latest infotainment offering is a comprehensive one. All the functions housed in the 7-inch screen are easy to learn. Pleasingly, the system does support Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in addition to satellite navigation and Bluetooth.
For a light car, the Swift Turbo offers a brilliant seating position. The car’s high roofline allows the seats to be mounted slightly higher, those who covert the upright seating position associated with SUVs will have no problems getting comfortable.
Four adults can easily be accommodated, however, despite having an additional 32-litres of cargo capacity over the outgoing model, the boot space is tight.
Aside from the engaging drive, the new Swift’s biggest claim to fame is a significantly improved safety package. Automatic Emergency Braking, Lane Departure Warning and Weaving Alert are all standard. The Swift Turbo also gets adaptive cruise control, which is hard to come by in this segment.
With so many safety features on show, the absence of blind spot motoring is conspicuous. Nevertheless, the new Swift Turbo’s safety credentials have seen it achieve a 5-star ANCAP rating.
The new Swift Turbo is a compelling package and like other Suzuki models, it punches well above its diminutive weight. There’s no room for ego and attitude if you want to fully appreciate the car, it doesn’t have an attention seeking spec sheet.
In many ways, and to quote Harry Styles, the Swift Turbo GLX is a sign of the times. The new 1.0-litre engine is a glimpse into the future of the petrol power. It’s a cracker that delivers a level of efficiency that can embarrass many a hybrid.
Most of all, the Swift Turbo is a car for drivers, not just commuters. It’s a car for people who have some zest for life. On the other hand, if you are one of the people getting sore ankles from the spirit breaking weight of increasing house prices, the Swift Turbo GLX is a sure fire way to fast track a smile.
2017 Suzuki Swift GLX Turbo Specifications
Price from $22,990 drive away Engine 1.0-litre three-cylinder Boosterjet petrol Power 82kW @ 5500rpm Torque 160Nm @ 1500-4000rpm Transmission 6-speed automatic Combined Fuel Consumption 5.1L/100km Tank Capacity 37L Length 3840mm Width 1735mm Height 1495mm Wheelbase 2450mm Turning Circle 4.8m Kerb Weight 915kg Service Intervals 6 months/10,000km Warranty three year/100,000 kilometre
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