New 2011 Suzuki Swift First Drive

  • PRICE RANGE: $16,790 - $24,490*
  • Safety Rating: 
  • Green Rating: 
  • Fuel Consumption:  6.7L/100km
Suzuki Swift is a critical car for Suzuki. The Swift has been the key driver in the Japanese company’s global sales surge – locally in the last six years, Suzuki’s market share has exploded from 0.8 per cent to 2.4 per cent.

No surprises then that Suzuki settled on a conservative approach in creating the all-new Suzuki Swift.

But not for a lack of trying.

In fact Suzuki sent two design teams to Europe – one to Italy and one to France specifically to create the all-new Swift, a process that took more than six months just to get some concepts. In the end it was the Italian-based squad who triumphed and their approach was to create an all-new Swift whose appearance was an evolution of the previous design, which debuted at the Paris Motor Show in 2004 ahead of Australian launch the following year.

Now the all-new Suzuki Swift is on-sale in Australia and incredibly, the starting price is still $15,990 – the same figure as the starting price for the current model when it launched in 2005.

Suzuki Swift Overview

Value-for-money boosts the score for the Suzuki Swift in this category. In fact, Suzuki Australia boss Tony Devers came equipped with pages of documents detailing the all-new Swift’s specification advantages over key rivals like the Ford Fiesta, Mazda2 and Toyota Yaris.

Suffice to say, the all-new Suzuki Swift delivers significant ‘bang-for-you-bucks’ – a critical attribute in the compact car segment where every cent counts.

The all-new Suzuki Swift is available in three model grades. Entry-level GA (five-speed manual only) is priced at $15,990, the GL sets you back $16,690 (manual) and $18,390 (automatic), while the range-topping GLX is stickered at $18,990 (manual) and $20,690 (automatic).

All come standard with seven airbags and stability control and even the GA runs air-conditioning, power windows and mirrors plus remote central locking.

Suzuki Swift Engine

All-change under the bonnet for the all-new Suzuki Swift with the arrival of Suzuki’s very latest 1.4-litre powerplant, code-named K14B. In fact Australia is the first market anywhere in the world to launch the all-new Suzuki Swift with this engine.

Lighter than the previous 1.5-litre engine fitted in Suzuki Swift, the newcomer features an alloy cylinder head, electronic throttle control and a direct drive valve train with variable valve timing.

Maximum power is 70kW at 6,000rpm and peak torque is 130Nm at 4,000 rpm.

For sure some critics will point to the miniscule drop in power and torque over the previous 1.5-litre engine, but the bigger picture is gains in fuel consumption (5.5l/100kms and 6.2l/100kms) and reductions in exhaust emissions (132g/km and 147g/km).

Suzuki Swift The Interior

There’s a real quality feel about the interior of the all-new Suzuki Swift – a discernable leap over the previous model. Modern, high quality fabrics and seat trims are part of that improvement.

And there’s an all-new look with extra curves for the dashboard.

While there is no reach adjustment for the steering wheel on GA and GL models, height adjustment for the drivers’ seat delivers a reasonable driving position. The steering wheel itself is a nice, sporty three-spoke design (leather-wrapped in GL and GLX with remote buttons for the audio).

Suzuki Swift GL and GLX models run a four-speaker entertainment system with MP3 and USB input, while the range-toping GLX gains two extra speakers, an LCD screen and Bluetooth.

Instruments are the conventional gauges but curiously the entry-level GA model doesn’t have a tachometer.

Air-conditioning is standard, with top-spec GLX scoring an automatic climate control system.

Rear seat accommodation and luggage capacity are on par with rivals in this segment.

Suzuki Swift Exterior & Styling

We get the evolutionary theme in the design concept for the all-new Suzuki Swift – hey, it worked for the Mini Cooper - but overshadowed by excellent designs for rivals like the Ford Fiesta and Mazda2, we just reckon Suzuki could have been a bit more edgy, particularly as compact car buyers are largely young.

Suzuki counters by pointing out the all-new Swift is totally new, a sportier, more athletic appearance provided by extra curves, more dynamic looks for the front and rear, but instantly recognizable as a ‘Swift’. In fact if you park the all-new Suzuki Swift alongside the previous model, the newcomer does in fact stand out.

The all-new Suzuki Swift is also larger than its predecessor – the body is 95mm longer and 10mm higher and the wheelbase has grown by 40mm.

Range-topping GLX models are boosted in the appearance stakes with 16-inch alloy wheels and front fog lights.

Suzuki Swift On the Road

Car Showroom tested both mid-spec Suzuki Swift GL and range-topping Suzuki Swift GLX in a range of weather conditions over a variety of road surfaces on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula.

First things first – the engine. You’re kidding yourself if you think you can detect a difference in performance between the all-new 1.4-litre (70kW/130Nm) of the all-new Suzuki Swift and the 1.5-litre (74kW/133Nm) fitted to the previous model.

Suzuki Swift remains spirited, loves to rev and – just like the old model – is fun to drive.

The Suzuki Swift GL model we tested was fitted with the new five-speed manual transmission and we liked the silky-smooth changes up and down the range and its strong torque for freeway merging and responsive cornering. Our GLX ran the four-speed automatic transmission (also a new version) and delivered the expected Suzuki Swift performance, aided by an overdrive switch for sharper response when needed.

Part of the allure of Suzuki Swift for enthusiast drivers has been its success in the Junior World Rally Championship and Suzuki’s high standard chassis engineering has ensured the all-new model is again very sharp. Special attention was given to the MacPherson strut front/torsion beam rear suspension, which is stiffer than the previous model.

Ride and handling were high standard with good grip levels - even when we encountered some wet roads around the hairpin curves on the climb to Arthur’s Seat - and the new variable gear ratio electric power steering was excellent.

The range-topping GLX model is the pick in the ride/handling department thanks to the extra rubber fitted to its 16-inch alloy wheels (15-inch steel wheels on GL and GA).

And the all-new Suzuki Swift also advances the refinement levels with its more aerodynamic body reducing wind noise and extra engineering like double door seals delivering an improved level of interior hush. For the statistically minded that is measured as a 3Db reduction in noise at 120km/h.

Suzuki Swift Challenges

Time will tell if the all-new Suzuki Swift rises to the challenge presented by the avalanche of all-new compact cars vying for the attention of Australian buyers. Last year Suzuki Swift accounted for 12,161 sales or almost nine per cent of the compact car segment, but the question is: will compact car buyers be swayed by the more edgy designs of some new rivals?

Suzuki Swift Verdict

Sharp pricing and extensive standard equipment mean the all-new Suzuki Swift commands attention in the ultra-competitive compact car segment. Combine that ‘bang-for-your-bucks’ with Suzuki’s trademark all-round quality and there’s no doubt the all-new Swift is a winner.

And don’t forget you must give the all-new Suzuki Swift a big tick for safety thanks to its stiffer bodyshell, standard seven airbags and stability control – a big factor considering many Swifts will be purchased by young and even first-time new car buyers

Suzuki Swift The Competition

It’s war out there in this part of the market and the all-new Suzuki Swift goes to battle against some credentialed rivals. Ford’s new Fiesta range includes a sedan variant, Nissan has just launched an all-new Micra, Hyundai’s i20 is now getting traction after its late 2010 launch and then there are the established stars like the Mazda2, Holden Barina and Toyota Yaris.

Suzuki Swift Likes:

Comprehensive equipment; safe; value-for-money , good resale value .

Suzuki Swift Dislikes:

Styling could have been sharper