Back in May 2005, Maruti Suzuki launched the Swift hatchback in India, and the rest, as they say, is history. The Swift was the game changer in our thriving car market back then. It looked quirky and showed us that a hatchback can be practical and fun at the same time. It also won the coveted Indian Car of the Year Award (ICOTY) in 2012. Now the Swift is in its third generation and still is the segment leader selling twice the number of units each month compared to its direct rivals in the B-segment.
After having the all-new Swift with us for quite some time now, and to commemorate its 13th anniversary in the country, we decided to put India’s favourite hatchback through our five labours.
Is it practical?
A practical car is the one which is most convenient to travel and live with. And there are very few other cars which can beat Swift in this parameter. The Swift always had the right ergonomics. It was designed with a typical Indian usage in mind. And now in its third act, Maruti has also ironed out all the issues of the previous two generations.
So the cabin space has improved by leaps and bounds, especially in the rear legroom. There are many usable stowage spaces for each of the occupants. The bottle holders in the front door pockets can hold a one litre-bottle each besides some added space for the little knicks and knacks as well. The centre console has two cup holders and a cubby hole behind it for a wallet or phone. For the rear passengers, there is another bottle holder between the front seats and two cup-holders in the foldable armrest. But the rear door pocket cannot fit in the same litre-bottle.
The Swift gets a 268-litre boot space, up by 210-litre of the previous generation. And with the 60:40 rear split-foldable seats put down, the luggage carrying capacity can be increased significantly.
How is it for a weekend with the gang?
As mentioned earlier, the cabin space of the new Swift is increased tremendously over the previous generation, owing to the new Heartect platform. I personally loved the sculpted front seats with huggable side bolsters and extra-large headrest. The seats are perfectly soft and comfortable even on long hauls. As for the rear, the passengers have sufficient leg room even with a tall person sitting in the front. But fitting three adults on the rear bench is a bit of a squeeze, as you can see in the pictures.
The boot space is just enough for the four passengers on a weekend trip. But if you are planning for anything more than that, then you might have to be a little stingy with the packing. The interior looks premium and is comfortable as well. Combine it with quality fit and finish, and you get a cabin which feels like a nice place to be in.
What is it like to commute with?
The Swift feels like it was designed to be a daily commuter in the first place. Its dimensions are perfect for zipping around effortlessly in the traffic. The balanced steering also helps in the city commute. Here we have the ZDi AMT trim with us and the two-paddle set-up instantly takes away all the driving stress in the city’s bumper to bumper traffic. The AMT lag takes some time to get used to, though. It shifts at around 2000-2200 rpm to a moderate throttle and if you input it correctly, the lag can be minimised. However, like all AMTs, if you floor the pedal, the transmission feels slightly sluggish, but that rarely happens in everyday driving.
In an urban city like ours, the Swift’s dimension and its small turning radius is a big boon as well. The tried and tested 1.3-litre Multijet engine is torquey and is famous for its performance, robustness and fuel economy.
Is it fun to drive?
The ‘fun to drive’ factor has always been the Swift’s forte. It has a firmly balanced suspension set-up which isn’t too soft, nor very stiff. The perfectly weighted steering has a good control and the suspension holds its composure right even in the corners. There is an evident body roll, but not to an extent of making the car unnerving to handle.
The 75bhp of power on tap has enough grunts all-through the rev range and the car picks up the pace in no time. And the AMT’s manual shifting mode adds the fun of driving. So the Swift diesel AMT fits the bill as an ideal car for everyday commutes.
Is it good with features?
We got the ZDi trim to drive around and it is the perfect package for its price. However, it misses out on features like the touchscreen, navigation, voice command and LED day-time-running-lights compared to the ZDi+ variant. But the latter cannot be had with an AMT transmission. Nonetheless, we were happy with the feature list in the ZDi.
Here the feature list includes dual airbags, ABS with EBD, and engine mobiliser in terms of safety. Features for convenience include keyless entry, automatic climate control, rear parking sensors, driver’s side one-touch window, electric mirrors, steering mounted controls and 2-DIN audio with Bluetooth connectivity. All these features are more than sufficient for a hatchback at this price point.
The Swift passes our rigorous five labour test with flying colours. It has proved why it has remained India’s favourite hatchback, especially in a cutthroat market like ours. The Swift is a family car, a multi-tasker that can be your daily driver, your weekend companion and at times it can double up as your fun car as well. The addition of AMT has made it even more convenient for a day-to-day usage. Backed up by Maruti’s reliability and unparalleled service network, the Swift continues to be the formidable champion in its segment.
Photos: Kaustubh Gandhi