In the constantly evolving competitive environment, nothing should be taken for granted. India’s largest carmaker Maruti-Suzuki is well versed with this reality and that’s why we see regular up gradation of Maruti cars at regular interval. And now latest to join this list is company’s best-selling Swift hatchback that for past couple of months feeling pressure from debut of matured and cultivated competitors. New 2014 Swift is minor facelift version of its predecessor and contrary to initial speculations; Maruti has abstained from incorporating major changes in this new version. However thorough efforts had been made to make new Swift more fuel efficient and as a result now both petrol and diesel Swift returns best-in-class mileage figures of 20.4 km/l and 25.2 km/l respectively. In fact this enhanced efficiency is one of the most-talked about features of new Swift and Maruti with its finger on pulse of mileage-obsessed Indians’ are hoping to make big with this economical sipping nature of new Swift. In addition to this heightened mileage what else is new and how it will affect the fortunes of India’s best-selling 5-door hatchback; we find out in this road test review.
Maruti-Suzuki: Leading name in Indian market
Mild Cosmetic Alterations
We feel a bit disappointed with the mild alterations that new Swift comes with vis-à-vis its older form. Going by most encouraging viewpoint, all the external and internal alterations are far too subtle to get noticed on the go. Even on a standstill it requires a hawk eye to differentiate between old and new Swift. Maruti claims to have fitted new Swift with new bumper but it looks way off from certifying its new credential. We were expecting DRLs’ but instead what new Swift got is lick of silver paint.
New Swift: Mildly altered frontage
Side profile is exactly the same save for new electrically foldable ORVMs’ with integrated blinkers and a slightly different alloy-wheel design. Rear apron remains similar too with the exception of integrated parking sensors on bumper.
Electrically operated OVRMs’ with integrated blinkers
Like outside inside changes too are subtle and are beyond the perceptible range of ordinary folks. Top of the line ZXi/ZDi variant now come with key-less entry and push-start button along with standard fitment of dual front airbags and ABS.
Carried-over cabin lay-out and design
User also gets the convenience of Bluetooth though the awkward placement of corresponding controls behind steering make then entirely useless on the go. Further the very practical addition of 60:40 rear seat split is a welcome move and so is addition of speed-sensitive volume control.
Awkwardly placed Bluetooth controls
In terms of cabin space, Swift continuous to remain an average proposition and is suitable for only 4 passengers at its best. Seats however is excellently supportive especially the front driver and passenger sets are best among all the available options. Boot space too fall in line with theme of average space and is enough only for weekend trips.
Upgraded And Refined Hardware
Though Maruti hasn’t tinkered with overall parameters of Swift powertrains, it has been able to derive enhanced mileage from the very same engine blocks and strokes. Both petrol and diesel versions has taken quite a leap forward in efficiency as they come with best-in-class mileage of 20.4 km/l and 25.2 km/l respectively. Petrol with 1.2-litre makes 85PS/115Nm while DDiS diesel puts out 75PS/190Nm from 1.3-litre of capacity. Both engines are mated with 5-speed manual transmission though we would like to see automatic addition to new Swift package.
Free-revving K-Series 1.2-litre petrol engine
There was a bit of scepticism that jump in efficiency could be at cost of performance though fortunately that didn’t turn out to be real case. Both petrol and diesel Swift retains their peppy, sprightly and vivacious nature. K-series powered petrol Swift retains its animated top-end performance while diesel Swift continuous to dominate owing to its strong mid and top-end range.
Strong and Punchy DDiS 1.3-litre diesel engine
Both models however suffers a bit perky nature especially diesel one; thereby mandating a constant shifting of gears. However that is not botheration as 5-speed manual transmission of Swift is slick, smooth and polished. Shifts are inspiring and clogging operation has a typical assuring feel. Clutch in petrol Swift is ultra-light though its non-progressive nature irritates a bit. However this is sure to take some effort off the typical Swift drivers who drives in congested and stubborn city jams. Diesel in comparison has a slightly heavy clutch operation though its modulation is now not as difficult as was in the first iteration of diesel Swift.
Slick and Polished 5-speed manual gearbox
On equipment front, Swift lags behind its immediate rivals especially Hyundai which offers bucketful of features in all its vehicles. Top Swift models come with Dual airbags and ABS as standard though none of these features in lower variants except VDi which got ABS as standard. Brakes equipped with ABS do make a remarkable difference compared to ordinary boosted ones. We strongly feel that live-saving safety features must become part of basic product rather than ornamenting in only top-end versions.
Fun To Drive Suspension
Swift handling is best not among its rivals but also in segments stacking above and below this hatchback. MacPherson Strut up front and torsion beam at rear is standard suspension hardware that equips Swift with its class-leading handling quotient. Throw around the corner, dart into gaps, make unintended changes or cross over to opposite lane, Swift is game for all this and more. In fact many manufacturers’ have tried to emulate Swift’s handling but fails to achieve even half of the finesse that Swift commands. Along with other features, excellent handling is sure to continue its decisive role in luring customers’ towards this amazing 5-door hatch.
Fun-to-Drive suspension; Excellent Handling
After a flying handling trip in Swift it’s time to get back on ground as nothing much has improved upon average and middle-of-the-way ride quality. Though compared to its ancestors now Swift rides much better, still it is way-off from what its rivals boasts of. Steering feedback however is precise and it tells you exactly what each wheel is up to at any particular moment.
New 2014 Swift is priced between Rs 4.42 lakh for base LXi petrol and Rs 6.95 lakh for top-end ZDi diesel version (ex-showroom, Delhi). There hasn’t been much change on the pricing front which is a welcome step on behalf of Maruti. Even logically the changes on new Swift are not large enough that otherwise would have prompted company to ask for any premium for this upgrade. Overall new Swift has changed for better and the practical additions inside the cabin in terms of split-seat and Bluetooth addition are going to push its sales. Further the Maruti is blowing mileage trumpet of new Swift very aggressively and in country like ours where KitnaDeti Hai; question triumphs over anything else, this plan is sure to pay off. Sure the folks expecting dramatic changes in Swift are disappointed; still subtle changes have made new Swift a better Swift.
Style & Substance 4/5 Ride & Handling 3.4/5
Interiors & Ergonomics: 3/5 Safety & Equipment 3.5/5
Power-Plant & Transmission 4/5 Fuel Efficiency 4/5
Value for Money 4/5