UPDATE, 24/4/17: The company’s Australian arm has now confirmed a June debut for the 2017 Suzuki Swift. Pricing and details will be confirmed closer to launch.
Suzuki Australia says it expects the brand new Swift, due in June this year, to battle the Mazda 2 for sales supremacy in the private (non-fleet) part of the market.
The new 2017 Swift, revealed right at the end of last year ahead of its European premiere this March in Geneva, will bring with it a large suite of updates over the tired (but still cute) current iteration, which has ceased production but remains in stock here.
Expect pricing to mirror that of the Mazda, meaning about $15,000 plus on-road costs for the base manual (about $17k drive-away), and climbing from there as you add an auto transmission and extra equipment.
Long Suzuki’s top seller here and around the globe, the new Swift comes with a lighter new platform, a BoosterJet turbo engine, a much-improved cabin with more safety and infotainment tech, and European-tuned suspension.
The goal for the company’s Australian arm? To match or beat the class-leading Mazda for private sales, and thereby also matching it with other big sellers such as the Toyota Yaris and Hyundai Accent, which are popular with the large-scale fleet buyers that Suzuki plans to eschew.
“One thing we measure ourselves on are private sales in the regions we control,” Suzuki Automobiles Australia general manager Andrew Moore told us this week. Suzuki’s factory importer oddly does not control distribution in Queensland, which is run privately.
“My aim is by end of the year with our full line-up, you’d look at the individual months and we’d be beating them [Mazda] most of the time in private sales.”
Moore said the company wanted to be the light car leader in Australia, referring also to the larger Baleno that competes in the same segment. This planned leadership will be complimented by a strong small SUV family including the Jimny, Ignis, S-Cross and Vitara.
The new Swift is based on a more rigid, lighter new platform and will be available in Japan with the 1.0-litre turbo-petrol ‘BoosterJet’ engine from the Baleno, replacing the tired atmo unit used at present, or as a petrol-electric mild hybrid.
The 1.0-litre three-cylinder unit appears to make 75kW at 5500rpm and 150Nm from just 1700rpm, promising plenty of low-down shove ideal for city use. These figures are down on the larger Baleno’s 82kW/160Nm outputs, but outpoint the current Swift’s 70kW/130Nm 1.4 non-turbo.
Other updates include a new six-speed automatic transmission option with paddles (sold alongside a revised five-speed manual), LED headlights, and extra safety features on most spec grades such as low-speed autonomous brakes, fed data by a camera and laser sensors, and lane-departure warning.
The Swift has always been a fun little thing to throw around, and the new car’s stiffer and lighter platform, plus the European-tuned suspension (springs and dampers) and electric-assisted steering appear designed to continue this character. The turning circle is a tiny 9.6 metres.
Upper spec cars get dials like a chronograph watch, while the cabin across the board sports a much more mature new look, with a chunky steering wheel, and a touchscreen with Apple CarPlay. The steering wheel has rake and reach adjustments.
At 3840mm long, the new Swift is actually 10mm smaller than the current model. But cargo space is listed as 265 litres, up 55L on the current Swift but still demure compared to a Honda Jazz or Skoda Fabia, and rear headroom looks to have improved. The extra 20mm of wheelbase also hints at slightly better rear legroom.
Suzuki Japan will get a warmed-up Swift RS at launch, but we’ll be betting on a hotter Swift Sport with the Vitara’s 1.4 turbo making about 103kW/220Nm; sufficient punch for such a tiny car. This car is confirmed, but still a little way off, unfortunately.
The Swift is Suzuki’s flagship car with more than 5.3 million units sold worldwide since its rebirth in 2004. This is the third-generation badge since then.