Thu | Sep 20, 2018

Suzuki Swift - an upgrade in design

Published:Sunday | August 19, 2018 | 12:00 AMKareem Latouche
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Since the mid-90s Suzuki has been a favourite among Jamaicans in the subcompact car category. At the time, its lightweight sheet metal body, large cargo space, good fuel consumption, and affordable price were things buyers appreciated.

Now 34 years after its initial debut on the market, Suzuki has designed a new Swift, which is now being categorised as a supermini. It has a more angular look, which displays maturity from an aesthetic point of view, and is in keeping with the current trend, where designers are blurring the lines of the accepted norm.

The hexagonal front grille, with the Suzuki insignia in the middle, has a less aggressive design than its predecessor. In addition, a major visual difference is the refining of the headlamp housing, which comes across as both elegant and sophisticated. The same sentiments are felt as one walks around the vehicle. To many, each line on the sheet metal seems to be telling a graceful story about the vehicle.

For the rear door, the handle is discreetly placed close to the roof beside the 'C' pillar, which does take some getting used to, especially for persons familiar with the previous model. In addition, both the 'C' pillar and the door handle are black, giving the appearance that the roof is floating.

To the back, there is a slight protrusion below the rear window, which meets the break lights. This gives the impression that the Swift is changing the dynamics of the traditionally linear hatchback trunk.

 

Interior

 

The interior is still customary Swift, where the company is trying to find the perfect balance between visual appeal and practicality. The overall black interior, with pure white pearl accents to complement the exterior of the vehicle, looks befitting for a car in this category.

Looking at the driver's side, the race car-like D-shaped steering wheel, which is wrapped in a soft material, easily stands out. Behind it is a dial cluster with gleaming satin-chrome accents against the black-toned interior, which Swift says gives the appearance of a chronograph watch.

Within each gauge cluster, there are red and white lights for a stylish feel, and between them is a 3.5-inch monochrome LCD multi-information display. Here, you can see information such as instant fuel economy, distance travelled, remaining drivable range, and what doors are open.

The audio system, equipped with Bluetooth connectivity and a CD player, is equipped to make full use of the four speakers and two tweeters. Admittedly, navigating this system does take some getting used to given that the LCD panel can only present two rows of information. Luckily, there is a designated back button, which allows the user to easily come out of folders.

The Bluetooth set-up is fairly easy to access. However, downloading contacts can take longer than expected. There is also the issue where sometimes the incoming caller's name is not shown on the screen. I also wished that the call log could be viewed on the screen in the dial cluster.

The seats are very comfortable, and the breathable fabric will keep drivers cool in our tropical climate. Given, the belt line of the vehicle is a bit high, drivers may tend to feel like they are sitting lower than usual. However, the overall feel is quite comfortable, with bolsters that wrap around the body like a bucket seat.

 

The drive

 

The 1.2-litre engine is now matted to a CVT transmission, which does its best at balancing power and fuel efficiency. There are points where is does feel peppy, but the acceleration usually comes on gradually. It also doesn't have much of that rubbery feeling like other CVT transmissions, but there are point, when it does seems like it is searching for the perfect gear.

There is an 'S' button on the right of the gear level, which operates like a traditional 'overdrive' button that mimics holding the vehicle in a lower gear to give the car more power.

Swift is promoting its HEARTECT technology, which features a high-rigidity frame that contributes to crash safety. The company boasts that it has fewer joints, each of which disperses impact energy in the case of a collision.

The vehicle also has a light feel to it based on the excessive use of high-tensile steel and ultra-high tensile steel in the upper and underbody. This can be hit or miss, depending on the driver's preference, and the feel does take some getting used to.

As for the suspension, it has good travel. However, I wish there were thicker dampeners to better absorb the impact of a pothole.

Where manoeuvrability is concerned, the Swift is still ahead of the class. With a turning radius of 4.8 meters, there are very few tight situations this vehicle cannot come out of.

Model tested: 2018 Suzuki Swift GLX, priced at $3.45m

Size Class: supermini

Weight: 3009.3 lbs

Drive train: CVT

Engine info: Normally Aspirated 1.2 litre gas

Power output: 82 hp

Gas tank volume: 37L

Available at: Stewart's Auto Sales Ltd, 49-53 South Camp Road. Tel (876) 968-0930,

(876) 968-0931, www.suzukijamaica.com