Review Alert! New Maruti Suzuki Swift: Tailor-Made For India?

Siddharth Vinayak PatankarMay 16, 2024

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New Maruti Suzuki Swift

Is it a better Swift than the last one? Is it a good family car? Could Maruti have done more? Let's find out.

It’s a brand new Maruti Suzuki Swift that arrives at a time when SUVs are reigning supreme. But Maruti still has high hopes for this popular model. 

New Maruti Suzuki Swift

New Maruti Suzuki Swift: Design

It’s finally happened. We’ve got a two-tone on the Swift officially, not as an aftermarket thing, not as a customisation option from the dealership, but from the factory. Yes, other generations have had this before in other markets, we finally get it and I don’t know why it took us this long. Because look at it, it makes the car look more urban, sportier, nice and modern. Now that is the kind of vibe you pick up from this hatch overall in terms of you know some of the elements and how it is styled but let’s quickly talk about a couple of things here. The first is that this is still a very evolutionary design. It is not trying hard to look very different from what we know the Swift to be. Let’s try and break that down. Why am I saying that? Because look, we’re talking about an era where design has become such an expressive part of any sales pitch to a customer across brands, you want cars to be a little bit flamboyant, a little bit larger than life. This is recognisable as a Swift, no problem there. And yes it does look newer but it looks like the same Swift. Now that could be a good thing or a bad thing. Maruti has gone, or Suzuki I should say has gone with familiarity. I would have liked it if they had chosen the designers to be a little more radical. 

New Maruti Suzuki Swift

Alright, now let’s talk about the elements themselves. The headlamp cluster is nice and big and gives the car a lot of character. And had this been round, the Mini Cooper comparisons would have started in an even bigger way than they already have. It’s the grille that gives it this look though, of course, the Hayabusa inspiration is what Suzuki still claims. It’s got that glossy black finish and it’s well finished too. The LED DRLs with this hockey stick element also look nice and contemporary. But the part I have a problem with and that irritates me is what is supposed to be a character line and it’s very intentional. It’s supposed to sort of start in the hood and then rise over the fender into the doors and meld into the back. It is very nice how it goes into the back and sort of goes right to the rear. But let’s face it this clamshell kind of element that they’ve tried to do, it makes it look like that hood hasn’t quite shut. So the first impression you have is, you wanna kind of try and shut it. That’ll probably grow on people, you’ll get used to it but it’s a little bit irritating to have that considering it is intentional. 

New Maruti Suzuki Swift

The new alloy wheel pattern looks quite nice and then at the rear, the taillight cluster is clear with an LED treatment inside it also looks quite nice. But at the back, the hatch door and the fenders all of it is round looking, more round in some senses than even the first generation was. That again is intentional. I quite like it because it is different. Overall the car looks quite nice, and it looks better finished than before.” 

New Maruti Suzuki Swift

Despite all that I’ll still give design a thumbs up for quality and proportion. Weirdly Suzuki has not changed the dimensions much over Gen 3 either. And the boot, like the last car, remains tiny.  

New Maruti Suzuki Swift: Interior & Features

The cabin is very predictable. It’s very Maruti, very Suzuki in that sense and so, of course, you still find that there is the use of slightly better materials that comes across as better finished. The climate control system is a nice touch, of course, to always have and yes the screen has gotten bigger. Take those two things away and you are in very familiar territory. It almost feels just like a facelift because even the instrument cluster is still an instrument cluster. Now all of us jaded motoring hacks would have woken up and sat up straight and taken notice if Suzuki had shocked us with at least a part virtual cluster if not a fully virtual one. I mean these are the kind of things that you wonder are they just taking this buyer and this volume for granted? I think worldwide we’re seeing all the other brands really trying to innovate with the instruments and in the European context you’ve got brands like Peugeot competing with Suzuki, very different territory. Here very traditional dials, of course, you have the screen in the middle with lots of information. The TFT but that’s been around since the first Baleno so that part to me is disappointing. 

New Maruti Suzuki Swift

The cluster and screen are functional and useful, but Suzuki opting for an interface that’s been around for a decade is not cool. Same old graphics and menus as the first Baleno! The needles in the dial are nicely done and do look sharp. The 9-inch touchscreen is a carryover from some Nexa models. It works fine, has wireless connectivity, and telematics, and has a decent resolution. Its touch response is also good, and it's tilted ever so slightly towards the driver. A 360-degree surround view would have been a welcome addition. 

New Maruti Suzuki Swift

Wireless charger and two cupholders and then the other disappointment. It’s still the same old 5-speed manual transmission, not even a 6-speed. The steering wheel looks nice though it’s well-finished. And you’ve got lots of buttons and controls but again all a carryover from other Maruti models that you have seen before. Seats are comfortable up front and a quick look at the back now. 

New Maruti Suzuki Swift

6-airbags and ISOFIX are now standard on this car along with a whole bunch of other safety equipment but still no ADAS. We’ll talk about the rest of it later. Let’s just quickly finish off about the comfort. The rear seat is alright, it doesn’t feel very plump and under thigh support isn’t great. You do get rear AC vents which is nice. Legroom is compromised but hey it’s a Swift. Again there was an opportunity with this Heartect platform to just enhance the wheelbase a little bit, an opportunity not taken. No drop-down armrest, that’s kind of irritating for a lot of people. Then you’ve got this key fob which I think maybe, I don’t know if it is an homage to the first generation or something because it looks like it’s 20 years old. 

New Maruti Suzuki Swift

Standard safety equipment also includes stability control or ESC, three-point seatbelts with reminder buzzers, hill-hold assist, reverse parking sensors and more.  

New Maruti Suzuki Swift: Performance

Even though it’s a three-pot, I have to say the engine sounds nice. So Kudos to the engineers for giving it this almost throaty, growly sort of a sound and it feels even nice when you go up to higher speeds. Though past 100 kmph that’s when maybe a little bit too much of it starts to creep into the cabin. But on the whole sound insulation is pretty good. Though again, triple-digit speeds are where you start picking up a lot of wind noise. Especially from up here where the A-pillar meets the roof. 

New Maruti Suzuki Swift

Now the design specifically, I suspect has a lot to do with the new crash capability.  Let’s talk about that. Many of you call Maruti models tin cans online. Well, you know what there’s a lot of legacies and a lot of background as to why that happened. Now what’s going to happen with this car, I do have some confidence that certain things have started to turn around and so on this model, I’m expecting better crash capability. The first hint of that came from the announcement that there is ultra-high-strength steel in a greater percentage finally on this new platform and this chassis carries therefore more rigidity and, hopefully, more crash safety. We’ll have to wait for the crash test results to endorse that, at least that is my hope. 

New Maruti Suzuki Swift

Globally when you think of the Suzuki Swift, the words that come to mind are “budget hot hatch”. In India, it’s just a hot hatch. That’s how we’ve always seen it right from the first generation. So, is the fourth generation a hot hatch? I’m going to say it’s about warm. It’s a warm hatch. I’ll explain why. 

Tech Specs

Displacement

1197 cc

Max Power

80 bhp @ 5700 rpm

Peak Torque

112 Nm @ 4300 rpm

Transmission

5-Speed MT/ 5-Speed AMT

First, let's introduce you to the new Z-Series engine. The 1.2-litre, 3-cylinder engine is new, and Maruti says the focus is on mileage and performance. Maruti says it is up to 14 per cent more efficient than the previous K-Series engine, and that it’s also managed to bring down CO2 emissions by 12 per cent.

ARAI Claimed Fuel Efficiency

Swift AMT

25.75 kmpl

Swift MT

24.8 kmpl

The new Z series engine. Now Maruti says that there has been a lot of effort put in to try and balance out the fuel efficiency and performance. So the claim was the car is zippy and fun and it’s high on mileage which is why a hybrid, mild hybrid that Europe is getting has not been brought here. You know it would have jacked up the price. So no ISG in this one and you know I get it when it comes to the mileage argument I think they have done well because with the ISG, you just get about 1.5 or a maximum of 2 kmpl more so it’s not a big enough difference to justify what would have been a price difference. But, the claim about the exhilarating performance, it’s very obvious that the car has been tuned for mileage and while that doesn’t make it dull, it certainly doesn’t make it exciting or hot.

New Maruti Suzuki Swift

Okay so maybe I am being harsh. But let me explain myself.  When you want to quickly accelerate, when you want to get up to speeds that are triple digits, it takes time. It is a very slow climb from especially 3500 - 4500 rpm. And unless you’re sort of already cruising on the highway and you’ve got maybe a little bit of a slope, it takes a while for the car to maybe get moving and again there’s nothing wrong with that in the context of usage people are going to have from this car. But I call it a hot hatch and now I hope you understand why. Plus the gearbox, 5-speed still. A 6-speed manual would have done it a bit more justice. And it would have been more modern too. But there are good things too, don’t worry!

New Maruti Suzuki Swift

Now for the good bits. Excellent refinement. I have to say of all the Swifts so far, especially when they switched to the 1.2, this has to be the most refined engine. Nicely mated otherwise to the gearbox. The operation is very smooth and then the clutch operation now is a lot more satisfying, a lot easier and a lot more comfortable too.

New Maruti Suzuki Swift: Ride & Handling

Handling and riding. These are two things where the last Swift was sporty but it felt very light on its feet and felt a little tinny. This one doesn’t. It has a grown-up, slightly bigger car feel. Now ride quality in the back is not fantastic but again compared to the last car and the one before that, this just feels miles ahead.

New Maruti Suzuki Swift

Should the Swift Get a Turbo Engine?

But now let’s address what you’re all thinking. I get that we can’t get the larger turbo on a Swift Sport like the rest of the world does. But what’s stopping us from getting the 1.0-litre that goes on the Fronx? I mean it’s a no-brainer. You make the engine in India, you might as well give it to us. And then by the way, having these two variants, where this is the one about mileage, it’s about your monthly running costs, it does the job as a family car. You’ve got that option and then you’ve also got the real Swift for the enthusiasts. It just makes so much sense. In a market like India where you’re trying to say that this hatch is still relevant, where you’re trying to look for volumes, where you’re also trying to go and develop a new kind of first-time buyer in tier 2, tier 3, yeah there’s a market for that. Boy is there a market for that. And I wish Suzuki would finally give us different variants of the Swift.

New Maruti Suzuki Swift

So far the Swift, its global sales over the last three generations, India accounts for almost 50 per cent. So it’s the main market for this model if you think about it. And yet it’s the market that doesn’t get any of the exciting variants. If you don’t get the hybrid, fine. But why don’t we get the Swift Sport, unless there is a plan for it? The company denied such a thing because according to the management, this engine is doing the job, it’s already so sporty and fun, you don’t need the turbo. I think you do because there is a market for it. There’s also a market for something else that’s opened up. The S-Presso never did it but the Tata Punch and the Hyundai Exter certainly have. Now you had the Cross Baleno which is the Fronx. Should you also have the Cross Swift? Call it whatever you want but is there a market for that? Oh, you bet there is. Imagine, in that market coming out with a turbo model. Now I’m going into the realm of not conjecture, but fantasy. But realistically it makes sense.

New Maruti Suzuki Swift

New Maruti Suzuki Swift: Verdict

Having driven the car all day and seeing it on the highway I have to say there is a good amount of road presence. The colour looks nice too and if only we could have things like ADAS or just that little extra sense of refinement with a few more features, honestly, the car would be very hard to beat. Prices on the Swift have already gone up and a large part of it has to do with the new bodyshell and hopefully better crash safety that’s been baked into the car. So are you still ready to pay more than that because that’s the argument that’s always made, that hey you know what we’ve got to keep an eye on pricing but wouldn’t you like a Swift with a nice automatic? Wouldn’t you like one that also has ADAS? 

New Maruti Suzuki Swift

Alright, so bottom line. Is it a better Swift than the last one? The answer is a definite yes. Is it a good family car? Is it a good hatch to buy in the market given all the options? The answer, again, is yes. But now comes the tough question. Could Maruti have done more? The answer is still a resounding yes.”

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