2018 Maruti Suzuki Swift review: The fun hatchback has matured
If the shift from the first-generation to the second-generation Maruti Suzuki Swift was a small evolution, the third generation is an evolutionary leap. Anyone familiar with the old Swifts can, however, still identify this one at a glance, despite so much of it being different.
The headlamps are still swept back, with a more pod-like design with a distinct LED running lamp and projector lamps on the top variant. Similarly, the tail-lamps flow back, but this time they’re more three-dimensional. The other Swift signature is the floating roof, which is now enhanced by a black bifurcation in the thick C-pillar at the back; the rear-door handle is now housed here.
The interiors are all-black, rather than beige-and-black. There are a few more cool new bits, like the circular central AC vents and the big rotary controls for climate control, which operate with a solid, well-damped feel. There is a new instrument cluster with twin-hooded binnacles for the speedo and tacho and red-ringed highlights. Sadly, the Dzire’s rather basic-looking central multi-info display returns; we were hoping for the Baleno’s high-resolution screen.
The equipment, predictably, more or less mirrors the additions we saw on the new Dzire. In the top Z+ variant, we have a 7-inch SmartPlay touch screen, with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and an integrated navigation system. There’s auto climate control, auto head-lamps, a rear-view camera, voice commands, keyless entry and go, LED projector head-lamps and daytime running lamps. It’s a little disappointing that the automatic versions aren’t available in the Z+ variant, as the Z variant they are available in misses out on some desirable equipment, like the touch screen, rear-view camera and LED lamps (just plain-looking halogens here). Still, it gets more than just the basics. What is nice, however, is the focus on safety; all Swifts get dual airbags, ABS, seat-belt pretensioners and ISOFIX child-seat mounts as standard.
When it comes to space and comfort, the front half of the cabin, again, is identical to the Dzire’s. The seats are large and well contoured, but you realize soon enough into your drive that they’re cushioned a bit too much, which could be uncomfortable for some over long distances. The driver’s seat is height-adjustable though, and the sporty, flat-bottomed steering wheel is tilt-adjustable too.
In the back, the new car has opened up a lot more space, which is welcome, as the previous cars were seriously lacking in this respect. Legroom and headroom, though perhaps not class-leading, are vastly improved now, although shoulder room will still be a tad tight for three.
The new Swift uses Maruti Suzuki’s 1.2-litre K12 petrol engine and the Fiat-sourced 1.3-litre Multijet diesel; the same engines used by most of Maruti’ Suzuki’s current range, as well as both previous Swifts. Additionally, you can now get both engines with either a manual or an AMT automatic gearbox.
The engines feel more responsive in this new Swift, thanks to the reduced weight. The 1.2 petrol is responsive off the line, which makes it great for scooting around town, but the mid-range is still quite flat, which means you have to rev it to squeeze the most out of it. The five-speed manual is just a delight too, with short and snappy shifts, accompanied by a light clutch. The five-speed AMT with the petrol would work well as a city runabout. The five-speed AMT on the diesel isn’t as seamless an experience as the one on the petrol. In the diesel manual, the soft clutch and gear shifts come as a pleasant surprise.
But the crucial focus of the new Swift is the dynamics. The second-generation Swift was a bit softer than the sharp-as-a-tack original, so is this one a return to form? Not quite. On the one hand, the new, stiffer, lighter chassis makes itself quite apparent in how well it holds things together in corners. The suspension, too, is well judged, with body movements decently contained. However, as with the Dzire, the steering feels completely lifeless, and doesn’t return freely to the centre. Sure, you’ll probably get used to driving it in town, and, in a sedan like the Dzire, you might be able to forgive it, but this is a Swift, and fun-driving characteristics are expected to be part of the package. The ride feels a little on the firm side and a bit jiggly over rough patches at low speeds, but as you pick up pace, it smoothens out.
The Swift may have lost some of the original’s fun DNA in the driving dynamics department, but that won’t stop the majority of buyers from lapping it up. Yes, that’s because of how strong the Swift name is. It’s also got a long equipment list, good space, and, crucially, a bigger boot too. It’s worth noting that it’s probably not best in class in any of these areas, but it’s close enough. Inherent Swift traits such as sharp handling have been replaced by a certain big-car maturity. Prices start at Rs4.99 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi).