MARUT-SUZUKI SELLS about 450 Swifts every single day. That means, while you were reading this sentence, someone just bought a new Swift. And now someone else has. And another. You get the gist. But the reason for its impressive sales figures aren’t a mystery. Hoards of automotive journos before me have labelled it one of the best hatchbacks to buy if you love driving. Although now, there’s a new(ish) Swift and we’ve got its rivals with us, all of which also cater to the enthusiast. Let’s see if they deserve a share of the pie too.
Before that though, let’s focus on who’s hogging the pie – the Swift. This new Swift to be specific. Well, I say new but as you, and all those people who’ve just bought one can tell — there’s not much that is ‘new’ here. Not on the surface at least. Yes, there’s a slash of chrome going across the grille and (optional) dual tone paint schemes, but that’s about it on the outside. Jump in and you will spot a new 7-inch SmartPlay Studio infotainment screen in the centre. Put a finger to it and you’ll notice that it is quite responsive, crisp to look at and intuitive to use. That’s not the only new display in the cabin. There’s a 4.2-inch colour LCD between the analogue tacho and speedo dials which gives the usual fuel economy and range readouts but also has cool performance displays such as live power and torque dials. And now, the Swift also gets cruise control! While these are welcome additions, the biggest new addition is actually lurking under the hood. Okay, it isn’t big in terms of size: the engine is still a 1.2-litre petrol unit, but the big news is that this is a DualJet engine. DualJet essentially means that every cylinder gets two injectors, instead of one. It also gets a dual-VVT, a cooled EGR system, reworked cooling channels within the engine and piston cooling jets. All of this adds up to improve fuel efficiency and aid responsiveness. The idle stop/start system also helps with the former, with the claimed fuel economy now standing at 23.2kmpl for the manual variant that we have with us and 23.76kmpl for the AMT. But can you actually feel a difference while driving, without an engineering degree? In a word, yes.
For starters, the responsiveness has improved considerably. It pulls cleanly from just above idle, no juddering involved and you can take it all the way to the 6300rpm redline as the power comes on in a linear fashion, peaking at 6000rpm. As you’re already aware the Swift no longer has a diesel engine and while we miss the punch from the turbo in that, this new petrol engine does a fine job of replicating some of that low-end torque. At 88.5bhp, the DualJet engine is 7bhp up on the outgoing unit and makes an identical 113Nm of torque, but that torque is spread out better across the rev range. So, while you’re not going much faster, you have to shift fewer gears in traffic and the refinement levels are incredible — it idles almost silently at just under 1000rpm (with the AC turned off). The gearbox is the same five-speed manual as before, slick as ever and in terms of ride and handling the Swift remains unchanged. There’s a bit of body roll, the steering isn’t the best at translating what the front wheels are saying, but thanks to it being lightweight and the wheels stretched out to the corners, the Swift still surprises with its cornering abilities.
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