Car tested: New 2011 Maruti Suzuki Swift ZXi and ZDi
Price In Lakhs OTR Mumbai: Rs. 4.91 (LXi), Rs. 5.54 (VXi), Rs. 6.03 (LDi), Rs. 6.44 (ZXi), Rs. 6.53 (VDi), Rs. 7.42 (ZDi)
The all new Maruti Suzuki Swift is by far the most important car in the country today. The new Swift is not only important for Maruti Suzuki but also for other car manufacturers who produce vehicles in similar price range. The new Swift has been extensively delayed due to strikes and the lack of urgency felt by the company. With more than 42000 bookings (maybe 50000 by now) already received by the country’s largest automaker, the Swift’s brand value is amongst the highest in the car industry today. However is the new Maruti Swift as good as everyone expects it to be? We find out just that by driving both the petrol and diesel versions of the all new Swift.
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Exteriors – The exteriors of the new Maruti Suzuki Swift can be taken as a weak point in India. We say so, because most of the people whom we showed the pictures of the new model could not recognize if its new. Most would pass the new Swift as a slightly updated version of the old model. Suzuki has tried to create a cult with the styling of the Swift. They want to do what Volkswagen did with the Beetle, BMW did with the Mini and Fiat did with the 500, but have they succeeded?
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Well almost, because the new Swift does look pleasing when seen on the roads. The car does look longer and premium immediately. The front is where there is maximum similarity with the old model. The headlights are larger and extend further back, while the grille is bigger. However when viewed from the side, one can immediately realize the increased length of the new Swift. The new Swift is not only longer than its predecessor but wider too. The rear door has been redesigned as well and the new Swift sports larger 15-inch wheels. This immediately makes the Maruti Swift more appealing to look at. The rear tail lights have been extended as well, with a part of it being visible from the side. Mind you, the old Swift was a looker and one of the most modified cars in the country.
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The rear view mirrors now sport indicator lights, while the 10-spoke alloy wheels look just about decent. The antenna has been pushed behind from the front. At the rear, the larger tail lamps and redesigned, yet bigger rear bumper is immediately obvious. The tail gate is now smaller and sports the usual badges. The Swift incorporate a rear spoiler with integrated stop lamp and the number plate is positioned relatively higher. The styling of the Maruti Swift starts to grow on you and you instantly forget the old model. Infact, once you view the new Swift on the road a couple of times, you instantly start recognizing the changes. The overall design then, is very clean and safe yet makes the new Swift more pleasing to look at.
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Interiors – The interiors of the Maruti Swift have drastically changed. One can confidently believe that they have bought an all new model when they step inside. Everything is new, from the steering wheel to the center console and the AC vents. The only old part in the interior of the Maruti Swift which we spotted was the gear stick, which seems to have been carried from the old model. The 3-spoke steering wheel feels nice to hold and has audio controls on it.
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The instrumentation has been heavily changed. A refreshed feel is felt once inside. Though, most take the new Swift as a facelift from the outside, there is no mistaking that its an all new model once inside.The dashboard quality is a step up with better fit an finish overall. Plastics feel a generation apart and there is almost nothing which feels like the old car. A/c is powerful and cools efficiently, though it was relatively pleasant to test it out throughly. The A/c vents on the sides are now rectangular and smaller than the oval ones we saw on the outgoing model. Automatic climate control is standard on the top end Zdi and Zxi.
Cabin light now goes from the front to the center.
An all new music system comes with 4 speaker and 2 tweeters mounted on the A pillars. Sound quality is above average with good bass quality. USB and AUX connectivity a very thoughtful touch. Audio controls too are mounted on the steering wheel for a hassle free experience.
The front seats feel more comfortable and provide good back and under thigh support. Improved fabric quality gives a premium feel to the interiors, though the stitching could have been better. The new swift is 90 mm longer and wheelbase has been increased by 40 mm, this ensures that the rear bench is more roomy now. Legroom and kneeroom is better now and is not as cramped as it felt earlier. Rear window size has not changed much and one does not get an airy feel. Rear thigh support has been improved but still not upto the mark. Though Maruti has addressed the space issue, the rear seat is still not the best in the segment.
All variants get the multi-info display which gives shows you temperature, time, fuel efficiency, distance to empty, etc at a glance.
Boot space has further shrunk and with wider & fatter rear bumper, its mouth opening has become still smaller. Higher loading lip makes putting big bags difficult. The new swift comes with a set of 5 alloy wheels.
The new Swift gets a all new key with integrated buttons for lock/unlock. Keyless entry provided.
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Build Quality - Maruti cars have never been on the podium when it comes to build quality but the new Swift is different. Build quality, fit and finish deserve a special mention. The Swift was prone to rattles and though it may to too early to tell, it seems to be very well put together with no rattles or squeaks of any nature. Even NVH levels has come down due to better damping and more refined & less audible engines.
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Ride, Handling and Braking – The Swift has been a great handler from day one and this new generation swift clearly has undergone an evolution for the better, retaining its original DNA. Handling is better and the Swift feels planted at high speeds. Even sharp corners do not seem to upset it at all, and it gives you a confidence to push harder. The old Swifts ride quality was nothing to talk about and these issues have been resolved in the newer model. Ride has become much softer and pliant. Though both the petrol and diesel variants have the same comfortable ride quality, the petrol version seemed to have better ride at low speeds.
15-inch alloys and MRF ZVTV 185/65/15 tyres do an average job under braking. Stand on the brakes and the tyres give up earlier than expected but ABS and EBD ensures the car stops in one piece. Maruti claims that these tyres are developed keeping fuel economy and road noise in mind. The new Swift is also equipped with EDC (Engine Drag Control), which works along with the ABS and EBD and helps to control engine revs when braking from high speed.
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Performance – Maruti Suzuki has retained the 1.2-liter K series and the 1.3 Multijet engines to power the Swift.
The 1.2 liter K-Series Petrol engine gets variable valve timing or VVT in Maruti speak. This translates into a smoother and more refined power delivery. Power is marginally more with the K series delivering 87 Bhp at 6000 rpm and 114 Nm of torque at 4000 rpm. A timed 0 – 100 run reads about 12.87 seconds on the clock which is mighty quick. Low end is good but the mid range gets a bit sluggish, you have to rev hard to extract the best out of this powerplant and this engine just loves to hit the revv limiter. The petrol version has lost 30 kgs and this results in a marginally better fuel economy, ARAI figures state 18.6 kms to a liter of petrol.
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The 1.3-liter Mutlijet engine gets carried forward from the old car but with different tuning parameters. It still churns out 75 PS at 4000 rpm and 190 Nm of Torque at 2000 rpm. Having burned almost 15 kgs weight, the ARAI certified mileage has improved 6 percent to 22.9 kmpl. Power delivery has become linear and the fun quotient has diminished, mind you, its still a very drivable car. Unlike the earlier version, where post 2000 rpm there was a surge of power, the newer Swift gets a liner power output with a slight amount of turbo lag below 2000 rpm. Once beyond the 2000 mark, this car is a beast on the highway. Maruti has hit the sweet spot between outright performance and fuel efficiency. There is also a drastic improvement in the NVH. Not only the engine has become more refined, even the cabin damping has improved. A 0 – 100 km sprint can be achieved in just under 15 seconds.
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New 5-speed manual gearbox debuts on the new Swift which is possibly two steps above the previous one. Gearshifts are smooth and quick and there is absolutely no notchy feel which was often felt in the previous car. Vibrations from the engine room are a bare minimum. All new 3-spoke steering feels good to hold and is an improved ESP unit from its predecessor. It feels light and nimble in traffic and also gives great feedback at high speeds.
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Quick Comparison With The Competition
1) Hyundai i20 – The i20 has been doing decent numbers but when compared to the new Swift, this Hyundai lacks the agility and driving enthusiasm. The i20 is soft and bouncy at high speeds but has excellent quality. If you are the kind who takes to the back seat often and are not too keen on driving then the Hyundai i20 makes perfect sense. However the new Swift offers equipment on par with the i20 and the interior quality in the Swift has being drastically improved, reducing the i20′s advantage significantly. Deciding between the two can be tough but the i20 still has the edge when it comes to interior and boot space.
2) Volkswagen Polo – The Volkswagen Polo is the only car which was very aggressively marketed in order to dethrone the Swift. However the Polo wasn’t able to do so and with the new Swift addressing issues in key areas, it has highly unlikely that the Polo will come anywhere close to beating the Swift in terms of sales. The Polo is a fantastic car but has a few drawbacks. The engines are just about average and the legroom for the driver is less than adequate. Furthermore, the Polo costs more than the Swift and with the pricing of the new Swift, the Polo will still cost more and offer less. The upcoming Polo 1.5 TDi might have a chance to be the pick of the choice but Volkswagen needs to offer more features at this price.
3) Fiat Grande Punto – The Italian beauty is looker but has never been able to compete with the Swift. The reason can be attributed to the poor marketing efforts by Fiat India and the horrendous service offered by Tata dealers. However when it comes to ride and handling the Punto is at the forefront and the new Swift still doesn’t come close to the fantastic ride and handling balance that this Fiat offers. A more spirited petrol engine is the need of the hour for the Punto and the Evo might be the right model to compete with the new Swift. Till that time, we really don’t see the Punto posing any threat to the Swift.
4) Nissan Micra – Possessing one of the best build quality in hatchbacks in India, the Micra hasn’t done well because of the slightly femine looks and lack of equipment. The Micra is a sedate car and can’t compete with the new Swift when it comes to outright handling and driver involvement. The Japanese automaker has surprisingly skimmed on ABS for the diesel model. The wafer thin dealership network of Nissan ensures that many don’t even consider the Micra. Compared to the new Swift, the Micra lacks in the handling and after sales service department.
5) Skoda Fabia – Essentially a Volkswagen Polo underneath, the Fabia is a fantastic car with excellent build quality and interiors. Priced slightly lower than the Polo, the Fabia features the same engines which do duty on the VW. However the Fabia excels in space and the driver seat is a very comfortable place to be in. Factor in the excellent ride and handling balance and all of a sudden you realize why the Swift should be scared. However scary stories of Skoda’s after sales service has ensured that the new Swift need not worry.
6) Ford Figo – When the Figo was launched it posed a big threat to the Swift, taking away a significant amount of market share. But the petrol motor is just about adequate and not a match for the K-Series marvel which powers the new Swift. Ride and handling balance is excellent in the Figo but rear legroom and overall equipment levels are quite average. Although priced very aggressively, the Figo loses out on the engines it offers, which lack the enthusiasm which the new Swift posses. A quick transplant of the 1.5-liter from the new Fiesta will ensure that the Figo remains as popular after the arrival of the new Swift.
7) Toyota Etios Liva – The Etios Liva is the most practical car in the segment. It has acres of space and the new Swift is no match for the legroom it offers. The Toyota badge further helps the Liva’s cause but its still no match for brand Swift. The Liva’s engine lacks the enthusiasm of the K-Series motor. Quality is nothing to write home about either and is worse than even the old Swift. However, the Etios Liva has serious potential to put a dent in the sales of the new Swift but until the diesel version arrives, the new Swift will remain unaffected by this Toyota.
8) Tata Indica Vista – Again a very practical car in the hatchback segment but poor quality and brand image have never helped the Indica’s cause. The Vista cannot match the new Swift when it comes to handling and driver involvement but has much more space and room than the Maruti. The interior fit and finish has improved considerably but still not the best, while the centrally mounted instrument cluster is certainly not the most innovative thing from the Tata camp. A facelift is expected soon but that won’t be able to counter the new Swift either.
9) Honda Jazz – The Jazz is one of the best petrol cars in the segment but buyers preference has shifted to diesel vehicles off-late. This is the sole reason why even after a hefty price revision, the Jazz doesn’t tempt many hatchback buyers. The Honda trumps the Swift in almost all the aspects, be it space, engine, ride and braking. But the Jazz lacks a diesel heart, which is the biggest chink in its armour. We expect the new Jazz to give tough competition to the new Swift (ZXi) but only in petrol guise. This threat from Honda can only remain if the new Jazz retains its current discounted pricing.
10) Honda Brio – The upcoming small car from Honda is expected to be a game changer for the Japanese automaker. The Brio is by far the biggest threat to the new Swift as it will be cheaper than the Swift and will boast of Honda’s i-VTEC technology. However, no diesel will be offered in the near future, giving the Swift the edge it has enjoyed for years. We expect the Brio to dent the sales of the petrol Swift (LXi and VXi variants) to a large extent.
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Conclusion – The Swift has grown up and has evolved into a much better car in all parameters. Maruti has addressed the previous issues and this new model is a positive step forward. The competition is heating up but Maruti Suzuki does know the ingredients (low price and high fuel efficiency) to make the new Swift a success. The much wanted ZDi variant has also been launched by Maruti. Powered by trend setting K-Series and the tried and tested Multijet engine, the Swift’s performance is sure to set you smiling. With plusher interiors, better ride and handling and improved fuel efficiency, not to forget Maruti’s bullet proof dealership network, the all new Swift is all set to remain what it has always been, the segment leader.
* Interior design
* Petrol engine revv happiness
* ZDi variant
* Resale value
Whats Not So Cool
* Waiting period
* Turbo lag in diesel variants
* No Bluetooth connectivity
* Reduced boot space
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New Maruti Swift Specifications : -
* Engine: 1248 cc, 16V, DDiS, DOHC (D), 1197 cc, VTT, K-Series, MPFI (P)
* Power: 75 PS @ 4000 RPM (D), 87 PS @ 6000 RPM (P)
* Torque: 190 Nm @ 2000 RPM (D), 114 Nm @ 4000 RPM (P)
* Transmission: 5-speed manual
* Top Speed: 160 kmph (D), 170 kmph (P)
* 0-100kmph: 14.80 seconds (D), 12.6 seconds (P)
* Fuel Consumption: 22.9 (D), 18.6 kmpl (P)
* Fuel Type: Diesel and Petrol
* Suspension: Mcpherson Struts (Front), Torsion Beam (Rear)
* Tires: 185/65/15 Tubeless Radials
* Brakes: Ventilated Disc (Front), Drums (Rear), ABS, EBD
* Safety: ABS, EBD, EDC, Dual SRS Front Airbags, iCats
New Maruti Swift Dimensions : -
* Overall length x width x height: 3850 mm X 1695 mm X 1530 mm
* Wheelbase: 2430 mm
* Ground clearance: 173 mm (Petrol), 171 mm (Diesel)
* Turning Radius – 4.8 m
* Boot Volume: 206 liters
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 42 liters
* Kerb Weight: 1080 kgs (D), 990 kgs (P)