Tested: 2011 Suzuki Swift GLS

The cute outsider

Suzuki South Africa recently launched the new rendition of their funky B-segment contender, the Swift. Blessed with cute looks, a peppy engine and responsive chassis, I always promoted the little nugget over the sheepish masses’ choice of competing Japanese and German products.

Unfortunately with little success – the Swift remains the rank outsider when shopping for a small hatchback. For this reasons I have decided to up my game and break the cycle of overpriced Europeans and run-of-the-mill bestsellers. Swiftly.

Draw a comparison between its myriad of competitors and the new Swift slots in between the expensive range toppers and the regurgitated cheapies. Quality and features follow the same principle by offering a pleasing combination of toys.

The fresh exterior styling will surely woo more customers with its floating roof design, cheeky nose and stubby rear end. I’m not too fond of its plain backside but stretched light clusters, oversized wing mirrors and creased metal got a silent nod from most observers.

Swift’s cabin was also injected with some youthful zest and while everything is still arranged in an uncomplicated fashion, swooping surfaces and silver accents got more thumbs up. The GLS-specific audio system and climate control are well laid out and easy to operate.

Instrumentation is clean (with a comprehensive trip meter) although I found the main dials with their sci-fi bezels a little overdesigned. I instantly changed my opinion at night though; they look fantastic after dark.

Any Swift driver will be exposed to a comfy seat covered with stripy fabric, a fat steering wheel (with audio buttons) covered in leather, and a first impression covered with plenty of surprises. The new Suzuki is just as eager and light to drive as its predecessor, despite losing some cubic displacement.

Gone is the 1.5-litre engine, replaced by a 1.4 equivalent worth 70kW (95hp) and 130Nm. As with every Suzuki I’ve piloted, my experience behind the wheel felt like someone added a few digits to those numbers.

The motor is very willing and rev-happy, smoother than its forebear and easily propels the 1025kg kerb weight through the scenery, even up steep bits in third gear. Direct steering and a well-balanced suspension complete an equation which, beware, invites you to put foot and zip through traffic.

Put foot and the Swift GLS reaches 100km/h in 10.9 seconds (we recorded 10.8) and will run out of breath somewhere around 170km/h. Restrain your Vin Diesel antics and the wake-up little Suzi should be happy with an average of 5.5L/100km, emitting only 132g of CO2/km.

Swift’s boot is a little on the tiny side but extends its 210L to 533 with the rear seats folded flat. This is par for the course in this segment, as is the wee 42L fuel tank which should still give you a 750km range with average driving. And I can vouch for that, after a week’s testing we returned the Swift with half a tank.

Good; what are you waiting for? Get to your nearest Suzuki dealer and test-drive the Swift. Prepare yourself for more goodies in the GLS model, like keyless entry and ignition, electric windows and mirrors, six airbags, ABS with EBD, adjustable steering wheel and a USB socket.

Prices start at N$152,900 for the GL model, this GLS costs N$169,900 and the GLS automatic is N$183,900. Each comes with a standard warranty of three years / 100,000km and a four-year / 60,000km service plan.

So, if you’re shopping in this category and can’t decide between the boring evergreens, do yourself a gigantic favour and test-drive the Swift. In true Suzuki and Galimoto tradition, it’s much better than you expect it to be.



0-10km/h:    0.6s
0-20km/h:    1.3s
0-30km/h:    2.0s
0-40km/h:    2.8s
0-50km/h:    3.6s
0-60km/h:    4.6s
0-70km/h:    5.8s
0-80km/h:    7.0s
0-90km/h:    9.0s
0-100km/h:    10.8s
0-110km/h:    12.8s
0-120km/h:    15.2s
0-130km/h:    18.8s
0-140km/h:    23.4s

0-100m:        7.0s / 80.4km/h
0-200m:        10.9s / 100.6km/h
0-300m:        14.1s / 115.7km/h
0-400m:        17.1s / 126.1km/h

0-60mph:    10.3s
1/4mile:    17.1s @ 78.5mph (126.3km/h)


Temp       16°C
Climate     Cool, overcast
Altitude    101m
Road        Dry tarmac, level
Occupants  Driver, no passengers
Fuel level    3/4
Odometre   2 650km

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