Look, I’m a believer. Of the small Japanese car. In general, and very much so when it has been engineered by the likes of Suzuki, a company synonymous with packing a lot of product into a tiny footprint.
So when the first Swift arrived in South Africa I was smitten. Maybe you, like me, fell in love with these keys because of either an obsession with Japan, or a love of video game racing in the ilk of Gran Turismo. But when the sushi-sized samurai finally arrived it was everything I wanted it to be. Cute, stylish, well-built and pure. It was engaging too. And then came the Sport and naturally, I was forever betrothed. They’re such excellent underdogs, worthy rivals to anything else in this segment but for an absolute bargain.
And then came the next one, this time built in Thailand as opposed to Japan. And that proved not to be a major issue, yay, but in certain lock-step with every other manufacturer, the designs became more ... well, 'designed'. More sweepy and swooshy, more style with less substance.
This is not my crit of Suzuki but in car design overall, I just lament how it has muddied up the purity of a stylist's pen, especially here on a car I connected with like a puppy. But now we're here with the latest generation of what is still a brilliant bargain on wheels - clearly a more refined package than it has ever been.
It looks great. But I stand by what I said
Ours is a red GL, that's the higher end model at R175,900 and it comes with a manual gearbox filled with five forward gears. There's a lowly GA in the range beneath it at R159,900 with steel wheels, and then at R189,900 Suzuki will sell you a car just like ours but with an automatic box of cogs.
It looks great, that floating grille, that intersecting C-Pillar, all interesting 'looks' I've observed trending in the motoring realm. It's resolved, but familiar. Not Swift familiar sadly, but I can't complain - it just makes me appreciate the original Swift so much more, that almost Bauhaus simplicity.
Hop aboard my cherry bomb
Drop a cheek into a comfy driver pew and you're met with a somber but stylish cabin, tactile as you like and with familar Japanese ergonomics. Sadly no funky touchscreen interface lives here, the new Jimny will be the first Suzuki with that particular honour.
Still, there's plenty to connect with plus a fair amount of luxury in which to do so, with a good deal of greenhouse for the light to come through. The seats do a decent job of gripping you and the steering wheel fills the palm, both literally and with the promise of an engaging drive. Something it only partially delivers on.
Vroom, but just a little bit of it, lives here. The entire range is equipped with the same 1.2 litre motor powering the front wheels. It makes for 61kW and 113Nm and that translates into a 0-100kph amble in 12 seconds and a top speed, should have the time to pursue it, of 170kph.
But the really impressive numbers are these: a claimed consumption of 4.9l/100km that we met easily and consistently, and with an CO2 footprint as tiny as it is. It weighs just 875kg despite being marginally bigger than the car it replaces and again, Suzuki work so well at turning small living spaces into 'big' ones.
But what the low weight means also is that when the road ahead gets interesting, there's not a lot of mass to chuck around, less inertia making for more direct controls all round. The result ergo, a really fun little hatchling to throw around, albeit one lacking in shunt. Got to leave something for the new Sport after all.
Okay, let’s wrap this up
So, this new Suzuki Swift can be had in six colours (but we quite like this one in red), comes with a 5-year/200 000km mechanical warranty (plus a 2-year/30 000km service plan) and at these prices remains a veritable bargain.
Should you get one? Absolutely. Don't let my begrudging comments about the styling put you off what is an excellent package that is a pleasure to drive. Especially if your domain is the city, where the Swift still thrives.
Suzuki Swift 1.2 GL Manual Specs:
|Engine ||Naturally aspirated 3-cyl inline 1.2l|
|Average Fuel Consumption ||4.9l/100km|
|Top Speed ||170kph|
|Suzuki Swift 1.2 GA Manual ||R159,900.00|
|Suzuki Swift 1.2 GL Manual (Driven) ||R175,900.00|
|Suzuki Swift 1.2 GL AMT ||R189,900 .00|