Tri-pot flagship, AEB for Swift

New engines, a stronger safety suite and slight price increases arrive with the latest Suzuki Swift.

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CONFIRMATION that a peppy three-cylinder petrol will be a new engine choice for the incoming Swift line has come from Suzuki here.

Product and pricing information for the key car that the Wanganui-based distributor has disseminated to its dealers shows the turbocharged unit from the brand’s new Boosterjet family will be offered in the fifth-generation of this five-door hatch.

The 82kW/160Nm tri-pot unit is an alternate to a naturally-aspirated 1.2-litre four-cylinder petrol that is shared with the Ignis and, as in that car, makes the same 66kW and 120Nm.

The smaller capacity engine marries purely to a new six-speed automatic and is the most expensive choice of drivetrain for Swift until the Swift Sport arrives with a rortier new 1.4-litre Boosterjet at the end of the year.

The Swift 1.0 RS edition costs $25,990. The 1.2-litre variants are delivered in GL and GLX variants; the first in manual and auto, the second auto only – though in this instance the ‘auto’ is actually a cogless constantly variable transmission.

The GL starts at $19,990 in five-speed manual and the auto has a $2000 premium. Those editions cost more than their equivalents in the outgoing range; the old GL manual was $1000 cheaper and the previous auto was $2000 cheaper.

The GLX now positions at $24,500, a $500 increase over its predecessor.

As previously reported, Suzuki has dropped 1.4-litre and 1.6-litre naturally aspirated petrol engines from the outgoing model that has been here since 2011. 

The 1.0-litre turbo triple comes paired exclusively to a six-speed automatic transmission.

The introduction of more modern engines brings efficiency gains but costs in respect to outright power – the 1.2-litre engine makes 4kW/10Nm less than the now redundant 1.4, while the three-cylinder’s output is 18kW down on the old 1.6-litre. Torque figures remain identical, however.

The power drop is offset by reduction in weight, with the 1.2-litre variants registering a tare weight of just 855kg for the manual and 905kg for the CVT, while the 1.0-litre tips the scales at 925kg. Variants in the old range clocked more than 1000kg on the scales.

For comparison, a current four-speed automatic Swift GL Navigator has a kerb weight of 1035kg, while a CVT-equipped Sport weighs 1075kg.

The claimed economy counts also make positive impact. Suzuki NZ is claiming the 1.2-litre manual variant sips 4.6 litres per 100km on the combined cycle, while the CVT rates at 4.8; these counts when it is burning 91 octane fuel. When equipped with the same 1.2-litre engine and manual gearbox combination, the lighter Ignis uses 4.7L/100km while the auto is rated at 4.9L/100km.

The 1.0-litre triple is rated at 5.8 on 95 RON (it cannot stomach the cheapest pump blend) – official European fuel burn data suggests that, had we had it with a manual gearbox, this plant would have accomplished 3.8L/100km.

Nonetheless, this betters the combined cycle figures of 5.5-6.0L/100km cited for the 1.4-litre or the 6.1-6.5L/100km for the 1.6-litre Sport. 

Suzuki NZ has also been dabbling with a mild hybrid Swift, a 1.2-litre which uses an integrated starter-generator fed by a lithium ion battery to boost performance and recover energy lost in braking. However, though it has displayed an example of this car – at the Motor Trade Association centenary celebration car show in Wellington last month - there is no word about it being available for sale. The ‘smart hybrid vehicle’ also stands out by being only in four-wheel-drive – all the NZ-market models are front-drive.

Perhaps mindful of the threat posed by grey import Swifts, Suzuki New Zealand appears to have matched the Japanese market specification.

All the NZ market cars therefore offer with the key safety feature of autonomous emergency braking. They also have electronic stability programme, antiskid brakes and six airbags. These, and a lane departure alert and a weaving alert, package as what is being promoted as an ‘advanced forward detection system.’

Automatic headlights, adaptive cruise control, a 360-degree surround view camera and a reversing camera also feature, though mainly only on the GLX and RS. Touchscreen sat nav and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto come in all models save the entry manual. The GL and GLX have manual air conditioning while the RS steps up to a climate control system.

At 3840mm, the new Swift is 10mm longer than the old model, but with a 20mm longer wheelbase, and has 265 litres of luggage space – 54 litres more than the outgoing Swift.

Swift is the third passenger model, following Baleno and Ignis, to come off the 'Heartect' platform and, though the general styling is similar to that sported by the last two generations, the shape is more smoothed off and more squished, particularly in respect to the now wider-mouthed and more bug-eyed faced.

The new look might seem less cutesy, which is ironic since the styling change was driven by desire to attract young buyers. At least, that’s the aim in Japan – here in NZ the average buyer span is very wide, though it depends on whether they’re investing into new or ex-Japan used. The latter wins the youth vote, but first ownership of the NZ-new product is still by and large accounted for by the grey-haired – it’s also a retirement village special.

Sales of the Swift have fluctuated in recent years, from 2968 sales in 2013, to 2685 in 2014, 2373 in 2015 then improving to 2570 last year. During the past two years, the count of used import Swifts has skyrocketed.