New Maruti Swift retains winning formula in a new avatar | Autocar Professional


Maruti Suzuki India’s (MSIL’s) latest offering – the fourth-generation Swift hatchback – which was launched on May 9, continues to retain its key USPs that have made it a popular choice among Indian car buyers since 2005. Reason enough why the Swift has swiftly clocked sales of over 3 million units in the domestic market since its introduction in India two decades ago.

The Swift has been a game-changing product for India’s largest carmaker, which continues to command a notable 62% share of the country’s premium hatchback segment, despite the marked buyer preference for SUVs. As per data from the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), the hatchback and sedan share of passenger vehicle sales has dropped to 37% by end-FY2024 (from 70% in FY2013), whereas that of utility vehicles has soared to 60% from 21% 12 years ago.

While the latest iteration retains the unmistakable ‘Swift’ silhouette, its design language has evolved with rounder elements and softer curves. 

Maruti Suzuki, which is betting big on demand for the new Swift, has invested Rs 1,450 crore to manufacture this new model in India, and sell it both in the domestic market, as well as export to countries such as South Africa, and those in the Middle-East.

New, three-cylinder fuel-sipping engine 
One of the key recipients of this investment is the development of the new 1.2-litre Z-series powertrain, which now features a three-cylinder layout for the petrol engine, christened Z12E, a downsize from the outgoing 1.2-litre, four-cylinder, K12C unit. MSIL says the move is to achieve better fuel, as well as thermal efficiency, thereby reducing the overall CO2 emissions, which have gone down by up to 12 percent.

While the new Z-series unit gets a mild-hybrid system in overseas markets such as Japan, the India-spec model only gets an engine-idle-start-stop system. However, Suzuki is learnt to be developing low-cost series hybrid solutions for its small car portfolio, and that powertrain could see the light of day in the Swift around CY2027. In the meantime, however, MSIL is likely to introduce the CNG version, currently understood to be developed by the carmaker, in a timeframe of around 6-12 months. As per MSIL, CNG-equipped trims in the outgoing Swift contributed to around 15 percent of the model’s total volumes.

The new 1.2-litre Z-series engine gets a lambda air-flow sensor, and a high-porosity exhaust, thereby scoring high on its thermal efficiency gains. The newly-developed powertrain has also been calibrated keeping in mind low-speed performance and drivability at city speeds by offering better low-end torque. MSIL claims an up to 10% fuel efficiency improvement in the manual-transmission variant to 24.8kpl, and a 14% enhancement in the automated-manual transmission trim to now offer 25.75kpl.

Most users who drive on the sane side of 3,000rpm will be satisfied with the Swift’s performance.

Despite its three-cylinder layout, the new engine continues to remain extremely refined, devoid of any perceptible vibrations at idle, typical of 3-cylinder powertrains. Autocar Professional put the new Swift to the test at a media drive in Bengaluru in the second way of May 2024 and, from the driver’s seat, the first impression of the engine is of an eager-beaver powertrain keen to respond to mild throttle inputs at start-off, along with good driveability until the 3,500rpm mark.

However, the improved low-end performance comes at the cost of a shorter redline from 6,600rpm to now 6,000rpm, thereby making the power output taper off towards the upper half of the rev range. The engine noise towards the higher end of the revolution range has also increased compared to the outgoing four-cylinder unit.

The power plant comes mated to a slick-shifting five-speed manual transmission, which now gets a hydraulic linkage for clutch actuation, making it an extremely effortless, and enjoyable unit to operate. MSIL also offers a Magneti Marelli-sourced five-speed automated-manual transmission (AMT) version of the same drivetrain to attract buyers looking for more comfort, and convenience in day-to-day driving.

The other key highlight of this 920kg car is its stiffened suspension setup, which now offers superior body control, and the company has achieved a fine balance between the ride quality, and handling to a great extent. The Swift is an eager handler, with the steering offering good feedback, and instilling confidence even while cornering at high-speeds.

Revving up the oomph factor
The new Swift continues to share its underpinnings with the outgoing car and its other siblings built on the Suzuki Heartect platform. In terms of aesthetics, while the new design is in keeping with the Swift lineage, and DNA, this premium hatchback now gets a clamshell bonnet, and conventionally-positioned rear door handles on the outside. 

The interior, however, continues to follow an all-black approach, with a brand-new 9.0-inch floating infotainment display taking centre stage on the dashboard. While the slick and easy-to-use unit offers plentiful information, the presence of physical buttons would have enhanced convenience even further.

Maruti Suzuki should be lauded for equipping the Swift with six airbags, three-point seatbelts for all passengers, ESP, hill-hold assist and ABS with EBD —even the base variants.

MSIL has also taken the leap of making six airbags standard in the new Swift, and has also standardised ESC, hill-hold assist, and ISOFIX child seat anchorages, hinting at the desire of attaining strong scores under the voluntary Bharat NCAP crash tests, and to give a tough fight to its chief competitors – Hyundai Motor India and Tata Motors.

Although the car gets new styling, which is more evolutionary than revolutionary, the fourth-generation Swift retains most of the Swift’s fundamental elements, and improves upon them to make it even more appealing to the young customer. The enhanced safety, fuel efficiency, sporty handling, and modern features, continue to make the Swift a strong contender as a family car, albeit, at a higher price tag, as a result of the additional safety features, and kit. The new Swift is priced between Rs 649,000 and Rs 965,000, which is Rs 25,000 to Rs 37,000 higher than the outgoing model.

While MSIL is confident of maintaining its success with the new model and anticipates strong sales performance month-after-month, the unabating demand for the SUV body style could see buyers cross-shopping between the latest Maruti, and other mini-SUVs of the likes of the Tata Punch, Citroen C3, and the Hyundai Exter, all part of the compact car segment.

Taking the game forward . . . swiftly
All in all, the new Swift makes for a good dose of fresh motoring. The snazzy styling helps it maintain its swift head-turning status, even as the brand-new, frugal engine does it best to stretch every ounce of costly petrol to the max.

While the new three-cylinder engine is not as rev-happy as the older four-cylinder unit, the improved driveability will endear it to users. What’s more, the slick five-speed transmission, precise point-and-go steering and swift driving manners make the new Swift a cinch to drive. All this along with a comfortable and practical cabin and a generous dollop of features. The fourth-gen Swift has taken the motoring game forward. 

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