2018 Maruti Swift test drive review
Dhruv Saxena, Mechanical engineer trying to find his place in the world of automobile journalism.
Over the course of its almost 13-year tenure, or rather reign; the two generations of the Maruti Swift have cumulatively clocked 1.7 million units in the Indian market. The Maruti Swift introduced Indian car buyers to a fun to drive, sporty hatchback. Despite the arrival of the newer rivals, the hatchback has firmly held on to the top spot.
In December 2016, Suzuki unveiled the third generation Swift and almost two years down the line the car is ready to land in Indian showrooms. The new generation has a lot riding on its shoulders as it aims to carry the Swift’s legacy forward. We sampled the 2018 Maruti Swift in multiple guises to figure out whether it can recreate the magic of the previous two generations or not.
What does it look like?
The new generation car has quintessential Swift design elements wrapped in an exterior that is unmistakably new. The DLO retains the wraparound look with its blacked out A-pillars, it still has very prominent rear haunches with the tail lamps flowing over them, and the overall profile is quite reminiscent of the previous two generations. The partially blacked out C-pillar lends the new Swift a floating roof effect and the also incorporates the rear door handle giving the new Swift a two-door coupe look.
Up front, the 2018 Maruti Swift gets a single aperture grille with horizontal louvers. It is flanked by headlamps with LED projector units and LED DRLs that are identical to the ones the Dzire comes equipped with. The taillamps also feature LED light guides and LED stop lamps. Chrome embellishments on the exterior, thankfully, are conspicuous by their absence despite Indian car buyers’ love for them. We do expect aftermarket add-ons to pop up soon after the car goes on sale, however.
In terms of dimensions, the Swift is now 40 mm wider and sits on a wheelbase that is 20 mm longer than its predecessor. Regular users of the older Swift will notice the increment in width, especially while negotiating tight spaces. The two variants we tested – Zxi/ZDi and ZXi+/ZDi+ - come shod with 15-inch alloys, but the latter gets fancier looking two-tone rims.
What’s it like on the inside?
The new Maruti Swift gets a driver-focused cabin with the centre console every so slightly angled towards the driver. It now houses the 7-inch Smartplay infotainment unit in the top end trims. While it bears a strong resemblance to the Dzire’s setup, the Swift’s dashboard gets circular central aircon vents and rotary auto aircon controls. Also, it is majorly finished in black with satin silver highlights adding to the overall sporty appeal. The 2018 Maruti Swift features a nice to hold flat-bottom steering wheel and red instrument console highlights that liven things up in the cabin.
Remember the increased width and longer wheelbase we mentioned in the previous section? That has resulted in increased cabin space. This has helped address one of the grouses we had with the second generation model as there is more knee room and shoulder room in the back. Luggage space, too, has gone up by 58 litres and now stands at 268 litres.
Maruti has not shied away from adding to the equipment list. The new Swift gets ABS, dual front airbags, and ISOFIX child seat anchorage points as standard. In its fully loaded spec, there’s a 7-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth connectivity, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and automatic headlamps.
What’s it like to drive?
The 2018 Maruti Swift carries forward the same set of petrol and diesel engines. So, there’s either an 83 hp and 113 Nm 1.2 L K-Series petrol or a 75 hp and 190 Nm 1.3 L DDiS 190 diesel engine under the hood. Notable changes under the skin include the introduction of a 5-speed AMT gearbox in both petrol and diesel variants and the utilisation of Suzuki’s Heartect platform that has helped the hatchback shed around 85 kg. Maruti claims that the third generation Swift is 10% faster to the 100 km/h mark and is now more fuel efficient with ARAI rated official figures of 22 km/l for the petrol and 28.4 km/l for the diesel variant.
We sampled both the petrol and diesel variants of the Swift. Out of the two, it’s the petrol variant that scores higher in our books simply because of the superb levels of refinement it offers. Off the line, the engine is responsive and, coupled with a slick shifting 5-speed manual, is a joy to drive. The AMT works well with the 1.2 L unit and at low city speeds, which is what it is likely to be subjected to the most, as it feels smooth and refined as far as AMTs go.
The diesel, on the other hand, tends to get a bit gruff at higher revs, as opposed to the petrol that remains quiet with barely any engine noise filtering into the cabin. It has its strengths, though. Unlike the petrol unit with its weak mid-range, the diesel offers a punchy drive once it overcomes the initial turbo lag. It will also be relatively easier on the pockets of users who clock 80-100 km on a daily basis.
Most people want to know if the new Swift has managed to keep the spirit of the old one alive in terms of driving characteristics and we’re happy to report that it has. It is agile around corners and the stiffer new chassis ensures the Swift is still fun to drive especially on twisty mountain roads. At low speeds, the suspension feels a bit firm but helps the car maintain its composure through corners by curbing body roll. As speeds build up, the car does a better job of ironing bumps and imperfections and feels planted at triple-digit speeds despite the reduction in weight.
However, the hatchback is let down by its steering to a certain extent. It feels lifeless and seems a bit hesitant to return to the centre. That said, for an average user, this will hardly be an issue during regular city use as the lightness of the steering wheel will come in handy in that environment.
Should you buy one?
Prices are yet to be announced, but Maruti isn’t usually one to get it wrong in that department. Our estimates put the starting price of the petrol variant at under INR 5 lakhs while the diesel is likely to start INR 6 lakhs onwards. Still, we shall reserve judgment until Maruti makes the price list public.
Looks are subjective so, we’ll let you decide whether you like the design or not. But, that aside, the new Swift comes with a healthy list of features, a set of frugal engines, the convenience of AGS gearboxes and increased occupant and luggage space. Based on what we experienced, though, the 2018 Maruti Swift is a great package. It builds on the strengths of its predecessors and has managed to address most of the grouses we had with the previous two generations.
2018 Maruti Swift - Specifications
|Engine||1,197 cc||1,248 cc|
|Power||61 Kw @ 6000 rpm||55.2 Kw @ 4000 rpm|
|Torque||113 Nm @ 4200 rpm||190 Nm @ 2000 rpm|
|Transmission||5-speed Manual/5-speed AMT||5-speed Manual/5-speed AMT|
|Mileage||22 km/l||28.4 km/l|
|Length x Width x Height||3,840 x 1,735 x 1,530 mm|
|Tyre Size||165/80 R14 (LXi, LDi, VXi, and VDi)|
185/65R15 (ZXi,ZXi+,ZDi and ZDi+)
|Boot Space||268 L|
|Ground Clearance||163 mm|
|Fuel Tank||37 L|
|Kerb weight||855-880 kg||955-985 kg|