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The 2017 Suzuki Swift has arrived to challenge the just-upgraded Mazda 2 and new Kio Rio in Australia’s struggling light-car market.

This latest iteration of Suzuki’s top-seller – Swift sales since 2005 sit at about five million units – brings improvements across the board, compared to its seven-year old predecessor.

There are four specification levels called GL, GL Navigator, GL Navigator with Safety Pack and GLX Turbo, with drive-away pricing from $16,990 to $22,990.

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Specification levels are well up, with features such as satellite-navigation, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, Autonomous Emergency Braking and radar-guided active cruise control available.

At 3840mm long, the Swift is actually a tiny bit shorter than its already minuscule predecessor and smaller than the 4-metre-plus Mazda 2 and Kia Rio,though the wheelbase is longer and the body wider than before.

Features on the token manual GL – the only version not fitted with a standard automatic transmission – include six airbags, Bluetooth/USB, cruise control, daytime-running lights, steering wheel controls and steel wheels.

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The Euro NCAP rating is only four stars, though the Swift got an 88 per cent driver occupant protection score.

The $1000 more expensive (or $2000 pricier at list price) GL Navigator adds a CVT automatic, plus a 7.0-inch touchscreen with satellite-navigation, reversing camera, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and 16-inch alloy wheels.

Does Suzuki just not want to sell the GL manual, given it lacks any of the above features and makes do with a 1990s-style audio screen?

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Next is the $19,190 drive-away ($18,990 list) GL Navigator with safety pack that adds autonomous emergency braking (AEB) that works below 140km/h, adaptive cruise control and lane-departure warning.

Rivals such as the Mazda 2 Maxx ($21,690) and Skoda Fabia 81TSI ($19,490) come with AEB, but the Swift is alone in offering radar cruise below $20k.

Atop the range is the GLX Turbo auto flagship at $22,990 drive-away that uses the spunky little three-cylinder turbo engine from the bigger but same-price Baleno.

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Other extras include paddle-shifters for its standard six-speed auto gearbox, polished alloys, auto high-beam LED lights, climate control and a proximity key. It’s the range-topper in lieu of a new Swift Sport – for now.

Cargo space is now 242L, up 32L but still modest. Occupants sit a little lower than before, but have a few centimetres more legroom and headroom.

Under the body is a new platform that cuts the weight in this area alone by 30kg. The new Swift rather remarkably weighs only 870kg in base form, climbing to 915kg for the GLX Turbo. Most rivals are more than a tonne.

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This architecture also has triple the high-tensile steel of the old one, which improves rigidity, and the design allows a tighter turning circle (just 9.6m). Suspension is an independent setup at the front and a basic torsion beam at the rear, and there’s new variable-ratio steering.

The company has also added sound-deadening materials, and the stiffer platform theoretically reduces drivetrain vibrations. The Swift is a few per cent quieter at highway speeds than before.

There are two engines to choose from. The GL, GL Navigator and GL Navigator with safety pack get a 1.2-litre four-cylinder with a weedy 66kW of power at 6000rpm and 120Nm of torque at 4400rpm.

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Not only is this 1.2 engine 4kW/10Nm less powerful and torque-laden than the old Swift, but it’s also a fair bit weaker than the 79kW/139Nm Mazda 2’s 1.5 and the Kia Rio’s 74kW/133Nm 1.4 – on paper.

What helps is the Swift’s weight, given most rivals weigh 100kg more at least.

Meanwhile the GLX turbo gets a 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine with a turbocharger that pumps up the outputs to 82kW at 5500rpm and 160Nm from 1500 to 4000rpm. This gives it a power-to-weight ratio of 90kW per tonne, which is almost the same as the outgoing Swift Sport.

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Like all Suzukis, the 2017 Swift gets a modest three-year/100,000km warranty – though the company’s reputation for reliability is second-to-none – and six-month or 10,000km servicing intervals. Costs TBC.

2017 Suzuki Swift pricing:

  • Swift GL manual $15,990 ($16,990 drive-away)
  • Swift GL Navigator CVT auto $17,990 ($17,990 drive-away)
  • Swift GL Navigator safety pack CVT auto $18,990 ($19,190 drive-away)
  • Swift GLX Turbo six-speed auto $22,990 ($22,990 drive-away)

Suzuki Swift GL specs

  • 1.2 Dualjet engine – 66kW/130Nm and 4.6-4.8L/100km
  • Six airbags
  • Bluetooth/USB
  • Cruise control
  • Steel wheels
  • Daytime running lights
  • Privacy glass

Suzuki Swift GL Navigator extra specs

  • $1000 price premium over GL manual
  • CVT automatic
  • 7.0-inch touchscreen
  • Satellite-navigation
  • Reversing camera
  • Apple CarPlay/Android Auto
  • 16-inch alloy wheels

Suzuki Swift GL Navigator with safety pack extras

  • $1200 premium over GL Navigator CVT
  • AEB
  • Radar cruise
  • Lane-departure warning
  • Weaving alert

Suzuki Swift GLX Turbo extras

  • $3800 premium over GL navigator with safety pack
  • 1.0 Boosterjet turbo engine – 82kW/160Nm and 5.1L/100km
  • six-speed auto with paddles
  • LED headlights
  • Automatic high-beam
  • Polished alloy wheels
  • Proximity key

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