ROAD TEST: Suzuki Swift GLX a worthy successor
DOOR handles hidden on the rear pillar. How fancy.
It's a feature among a raft of changes to the loveable Suzuki Swift which has just arrived "totally rebuilt from the ground up”.
Everything might be all new, yet it retains the distinctive Swift character. That is a very good thing.
Suzuki's Swift has been an outstanding small car for more than a decade. During recent years it has punched above its weight for driving dynamics, appealing styling and maintaining the strong reliability component for which the marque is renowned.
Signally a changing of the guard, Suzuki has gone with a downsized turbocharged unit as its headline powertrain. The range-topping GLX is motivated by a 1.0-litre three-cylinder unit which is surprisingly lively and doesn't mind stretching the legs when you give it a boot-full.
Priced from $22,990 drive-away, that positions the Swift at the higher end of the market.
Those opting for the range-topper will not be disappointed with the specification list. Getting safety kit such as radar cruise control and lane departure warning, as well as a colour touchscreen equipped with smartphone mirroring functionality via Android Auto and Apple Carplay, it's essentially the complete package.
About the only thing absent is leather trim.
Running costs are at the lower end of the scale, with our week-long test achieving about 6.0-litres for 100km (impressively close to the official figure of 5.1L/100km), but it does need the more expensive 95 octane premium unleaded.
Capped price servicing is from $199 per dealer visit - but intervals are six months compared to 12 on some rivals.
Interior space improves courtesy of pushing the wheels out closer to the corners of the body panels while maintaining a similar footprint ... but the body is wider and sits lower. Compared to the outgoing model, the seats are lower to keep the same headroom despite having a lower roof for better wind resistance.
Adults can fit in the back, but carriage is best left to two.
Ride on the 16-inch alloy wheels is on par with the rivals, and wind intrusion is minimal at highway speeds.
The seats offer bolstering laterally and around the thighs and the driver has an excellent field of vision.
Across the dash is the standard Suzuki black hard plastics, although there is some fun lines of colour across the dash and doors. The touchscreen adds modern dexterity, as do the circular climate controls.
Operationally it's straightforward. The only initial complexity was the central of the three larger dials doesn't turn or control anything (whereas the outer two adjust temperature and the fan). It just features digital information.
Plaudits are deserved for the functional layout, with large cup holders in front of the shifter and bottler holders in the doors, along with easy access to the USB and 12-volt ports.
Boot space gets a much-needed improvement, now housing 54 extra litres for a total of 242. It's still not massive, but there is an extra space under the floor and the rear seats also fold (not completely flat).
Opting for the turbo three-pot is all about efficiency.
Those with no knowledge of what's under the bonnet would struggle to detect its small capacity. Achieving high torque from low revs, it can really get off the line with enthusiasm and it feels like a powerful unit.
Armed with steering wheel paddles, the driver can take control for manual-style shifts and keen steerers will appreciate the conventional six-speed automatic. Some other models use the continuously variable autos which feel unnatural to many with high revving for little reward.
On the highway it manages 100kmh at just above 2000rpm and you never feel like ringing its neck to gain the maximum performance - although it will work to the 6000rpm redline.
The GLX feels adept when cornering hard and copes easily with quick changes in direction. Car parks are also a breeze courtesy of the remarkably tight turning circle.
This kind of equipment isn't usually standard at this point in the market, but things are changing.
Excellent kit includes automatic emergency braking which can determine whether a frontal collision is likely between the speeds of 5-100km/h and then improve braking force for the driver, or automatically apply the anchors.
Other features are radar cruise control, which keeps the Swift a safe distance from the car in front (three settings available), along with automatic high beam which dips your lights to avoid blinding oncoming traffic.
More muscular looks and a rewarding drive with zippy performance.
Short servicing intervals and safety gizmos not quite as polished as the premium marques.
Toyota Yaris ZR $22,470 plus on-roads
Also has strong features but is a little slower off the mark.
Ford Fiesta Sport EB $20,525 plus on-roads
Good choice for keen drivers, short on equipment in comparison.
Volkswagen Polo 81 TSI $18,690 plus on-roads
Also a fun drive, although it too doesn't have comparable kit.
PRICE $22,990 drive away
WARRANTY 3 years/100,000km, extended to 5 years/140,000km if capped price servicing is carried out
CAPPED SERVICING From $199 per service
SERVICE INTERVAL Every 6 months / 10,000km
SAFETY Untested; 6 airbags
ENGINE 1.0-litre 3-cyl turbo petrol 82kW/170Nm
TRANSMISSION Six-speed auto, FWD
THIRST 5.1l/100km (combined average)
DIMENSIONS 3840mm (L), 1735mm (W), 1495mm (H), 2450 (WB)