Maruti Swift’s success over the last decade is unprecedented. In the 12 years of its existence, Maruti has sold over 1.7 million units, which is phenomenal for a sporty hatch. This is despite it being not the most practical, comfortable and it even lacked features as compared to the competition.
Now the third generation of the hatch is about to be launched and if the impressive new Dzire is anything to go by then the Swift which is essentially a hatch version of the sedan, will surely send its rivals running for cover. We got our hands on the highly anticipated hatch to see if Maruti has delivered a great product which millions of Indians will end up buying. Like with the Dzire, Maruti will launch the new Swift with a manual as well as an automatic transmission, on both the petrol and diesel variant. In this review we will be talking about the petrol version.
Let’s start with the design and Maruti has done a good job of differentiating the Swift from the Dzire. Upfront the grille looks sporty, thanks to the omission of the chrome surround from the Dzire and the sharply cut bumper further adds to the appeal. In profile it looks exactly the same as the Dzire till the B pillar, post which the rear door and tail section is all-new. The unusual placement of the rear door handle, makes it look like a sporty three door. At the back, Maruti has kept it simple and the big flat boot section actually reminds of the Nissan Micra. Based on the new Heartec platform the new Swift has shed around 85kg as compared to the old car despite it being a larger car.
How is it on the inside?
As expected the Swift gets the dashboard from the Dzire, but Maruti has managed to differentiate the two thanks to small changes and different ambiance. The Swift gets an all black cabin as compared to the beige on the Dzire which surly helps it look sporty. You also get round centre vents and air-con controls, and silver accents as compared to wood on the Dzire. Although the dashboard looks minimalistic, it is smartly styled, with the large touchscreen infotainment system dominating proceedings. The automatic doesn’t come in the top variant so you get a traditional music system which looks outdated. The touchscreen system on the top ZXi plus variant features a screen that is crisp and oozes of quality. The same can’t be said about the rest of the cabin. Plastic quality and fit and finish though decent, is not as nice as the Hyundai Grand i10.
The front seats are accommodating and offer good support. But it’s at the back where space and comfort has taken a big leap forward as compared to the old car. The new Swift offers much more kneeroom and the wider cabin gives it an airy ambiance. The bench itself is well shaped and comfortable. What would have made the rear seat even better is firmer cushioning. There are plenty of storage spaces in the cabin in the form of multiple cubby holes and even the glovebox is of decent size. The boot at 268 litres is much bigger than before but like with the old car the lid opening is quite high and narrow, which makes loading heavy bags a shoulder straining affair.
In the top ZXi plus trim the Swift comes equipped with touchscreen infotainment system which houses Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, navigation and bluetooth telephony. Apart from this the Swift gets all the basics like climate control, key-less go, reverse camera with sensors, auto headlamps, daytime running lamps and a comprehensive trip computer. In terms of safety, Maruti is offering two airbags and ABS as standard across the range.
How does it drive?
The new Swift comes with the same 1.2-litre naturally aspirated petrol motor and output figures of 83bhp and 113Nm are unchanged too. The on-road performance though is a lot better thanks to the lighter chassis. The motor is responsive and has a linear tug from low engine speeds, which makes it great for city commutes. In fact, the motor’s drivability is really impressive and you can get away in third gear from as low as 20kmph without any judder or vibration from the motor. This engine revs quite freely and when you arrive at the 6200rpm red line, you hear a nice sporty snarl. Even the 5-speed manual gearbox is crisp and snappy to use. The light and short throw allows you to execute a quick shift with just the flick of a wrist, and this reduces the stress on the driver even further. We managed to strap our Vbox timing gear on the manual petrol variant and it returned some impressive figures. Zero to 100kmph is executed in a quick 12.26 seconds which makes it much quicker than the outgoing car and even drivability test time of 13.09sec for 20-80kmph in third gear is impressive for a naturally aspirated petrol motor.
We also sampled the AMT version of the petrol car. Slot the gear shifter into D and the Swift AMT moves forward in a smooth manner. Whether it be ambling along in the city or even cruising steadily on the highway, this gearbox works really well. It does show it’s basic roots when you are in need of instant change of pace, as the gearbox struggles to drop the gears quickly and there is a brief pause before the power is delivered. So overtaking on a narrow two lane road has to be planned well in advance and its best to gently feed in the power so that you can run through the gears smoothly. The best mode for going quickly, however, is the gear lever-operated tiptronic manual, which will hold gears. While for everyday driving, the auto modes work great, its only if you are in a real hurry, will you will feel the need to swap cogs yourself.
The new Swift doesn’t disappoint when you show it a set of corners. The light steering might feel unnerving around the straight ahead position initially, but once use to, it is a precise unit. The harder you push, the better the Swift feels and the chassis balance is just right with just a hint of lift-off oversteer at the limit.
As for the ride, due to the light weight it does feels a bit jiggly at low speeds and not very adept at handling sharp bumps, and you can feel the suspension thump through the light body. Though it never gets to the point of being uncomfortable and it is something you can live with. However, as you go faster, it settles down to offer a fairly flat and consistent ride. The brakes on the other hand offer good bite and stopping power with good pedal feel.
Should I buy one?
There are very few reasons not to. The new Swift is a huge step ahead of its predecessor and that is a huge compliment for a car that is already a segment best seller. It has a stylish exterior, the cabin is spacious and feels premium, it has loads of equipment and the lighter new chassis has improved driving pleasure considerably. The only remaining question is the price which we will know in around 15 days time at the auto expo. As a product, the new Swift just feels right on the money with very few flaws to speak off.
Where does it fit in?
The Maruti Swift rivals the likes of Hyundai i10, Nissan Micra and Ford Figo. Where the old car was priced at par with the competition the new Swift might become the most expensive in its segment.
Pictures by: Kapil Angane