Maruti Suzuki Swift 1.3 review
- Published On: 12 April 2017
- 5 min read
It looks terrific. It turns heads and catches its fair share of glances. But has it been worth the wait?
It has been some time coming and Maruti’s new Swift is finally here. This car is Maruti's most important launch in 20 years. But is it good enough?
On the outside
One of the Swift's major strengths is its styling - it looks absolutely incredible - it's probably the best-looking mainstream car in India today. Unlike the now-traditional ‘cab-forward’ designs of similar-sized rivals like the Getz and the Indica, the Swift is distinctly two-box and that, along with the muscular fenders and the broad, sharply chiselled shoulders and flanks gives it on-road presence of a much bigger car.
The huge vertical headlamps echo the sharply curved tail-lamps and the wraparound glasshouse effect, thanks to the blackened, A-pillar. For a car born in the mid-1990s, the Swift has plenty of tech. Maruti engineers boast of six computers that each control the engine management system, electric power steering system (EPS), central locking, auto climate control system, the ABS brake system and airbag deployment. To meet global safety standards, the Swift uses a beefed-up chassis to make it crashworthy.
On the inside
The interior is not as stylish as the exterior but it's still quite attractive. The sporty three-spoke steering wheel with the prominent Suzuki logo sits center stage and the amber-lit dials look super. The central air-con vents feel great to operate and look like they belong in a bigger saloon but they don't match the circular side vents, which are also superbly finished. There's a double-DIN-sized hole in the dash for aftermarket music systems, the company doesn’t provide a system. Plastic quality is great - it is millennia ahead of anything else from Maruti (including the Baleno) and decidedly better than the Getz, less shiny and with a far nicer grain. The switchgear is the best yet we've seen on a Suzuki with that right tactile feel. There is not as much storage as customers would have liked and the absence of a storage shelf is another grouse.
Though the Swift makes more power than the Esteem (88hp as compared to 86hp) and a jot more torque, we didn't think that would be enough to counter its kerb weight of 1010kg, which is 135kg more than the Esteem. The Esteem has a slight edge at its top end but the Swift has a far more linear power delivery and feels more driveable. In a flat-out race, the dash to 100kph comes up in 11.60 seconds, only 0.89sec shy of the much Esteem. Where the Swift really marches ahead is in the slog from 20-80kph in third gear and 40-100 kph in fourth and this underscores the engine's flexibility enhanced by cleverly chosen gear ratios and fine-tuning of all the engine parameters. The Swift returns 11.5kpl in the city and 16.2kpl on the highway.
From behind the wheel
The Swift is a sporty car - its short wheelbase, wide, lower-profile tyres (on the ZXi) and stiff springs all work to making it feel taut and slightly edgy. It's a bit fidgety, especially on a broken road, but feels more eager to dive into a corner, with considerably more grip. It also feels quite planted and flat going into a curve – its stiff suspension gives it good body control. The Swift's biggest problem is its steering - the electric power steering, though improved considerably, feels lifeless and imprecise.
The Swift's other problem is that it has fairly stiff damping, which gives it good body control, letting it take rough roads without pitching, but also makes for a choppy ride, especially at the rear.
Is it worth the money?
The new Swift has rewritten the game for Maruti – it has made the rest of Maruti's range look terribly dated. Maruti insists cars like the Esteem and Wagon R have a different clientele, and that the Swift won't cannibalise sales from its siblings, but how could it not? This is the car that could bring sophistication to the bottom end of the Indian market, getting people to switch from outdated sedans to modern hatchbacks.