Monday, November 21, 2005

Maruti Suzuki Swift - impressions from the first 1000 kms


“Ok, waited long; both me and this review for the aurora”.
Well that was a bit of exaggeration in describing my wait for the Swift which was anything but ‘swift’. To move on, this is my honest opinion/review about my Swift which has now done close to 1000 kms on the ravaged tarmacs of Bangalore. I have not tried to be prejudiced for it being ‘my car’. Here we go,

Car specs
The hottest hatchback to hit our roads since Palio. The heap of bookings speak aloud, need I say more. Here is the general specs of this machine

Model: VXi
Color: Azure Grey

Engine: 1298 cc SOHC
Cylinders: 4
Number of Valves: 16
Maximum Power: 87bhp @ 6000 rpm
Maximum Torque: 113Nm @ 4500 rpm

Dimensions: 3695x1690x1530 mm
Tyres: 165/80R14
Boot Space: 232 ltrs (min)
368 ltrs (max)

Turning radius: 4.7 m
Ground Clearance: 170 mm
Top Speed: 160 kmph (IMO 165kmph)

Engine
There has been a lot of talk about Maruti plonking in an outdated engine. I will get to that later. Generally speaking, an old but tried and tested performer that churns out a good amount power while adhering to its frugal drinking habit. This old warhorse has been remapped and revived for duty on the Swift. There is absolutely nothing to complain about its performance and definitely lives up to the expectation. The additional weight that Swift imposes on it is felt but only slightly. Obviously, 85+ bhp/tonne is definitely a good figure.
There has been quiet a bit of outcry about the latest engine not being offered and so on. Lets get this straight, the VVt engine that’s offered in other countries would very simply push the price range by a minimum of 1 lakh pushing it into the same fate as Ford Fusion. The pricing of Swift in those countries, consequently, doesn’t make it a cheap hatchback either. You pay for what you get and it is as simple as that. In the same vein, if the history behind The Getz engine is dug up, then it would dawn on us that its roots go back to the same engine that did work on the older Accents. Remapping and reworking is a part of any engine’s life cycle and is inevitable. So I would not typecast an engine based on its age of existence. On the contrary, I believe it should be strictly based on its performance and reliability. The Swift’s engine scores high on both these parameters and is a peppy performer.

Ride & Handling
True to its sporty image, the car hits the road with a lot of zeal. One of my honest observations is that the car is very much under powered in the 3rd gear and is left gasping. But beyond 40 kmph mark on your speedometer it is different ball game. It just gallops ahead of competition with amazing ease. It could rival even the sedans on this frontier. But if you are trying to accelerate in city traffic it could leave you a trifle disappointed.
The suspensions have been engineered based on the feedback from the rally exploits of the Suzuki team and it is very much there to be seen. It has got a sporty feel to it and may not be as soft as you would expect it to be. But if it bad roads, this suspension is more than willing to handle it with élan. So it basically boils down to what you expect out of it.
The car has been solidly engineered unlike most of the other cars from the Maruti stable. The build is solid and the monster displays it on the road. The car is absolutely steady even at speeds exceeding 140. Having driven most of the other cars from the Maruti, let me assure you, this car is simply in a different zone and boy, do you feel safe in it – absolutely. The bigger wheel frame (14”) supports it well and the 185/70R14 on the ZXi is a real killer, terrific. But I have to content myself with its smaller sibling (165/80) for now. L

Looks
Ok, this is a highly subjective domain. But in my opinion, “Simply out of the world. A revelation on Indian roads”. The car’s looks definitely has a lot of character.

Interiors
I have read a lot of comments about the ‘cheap’ interiors of the Swift. But I beg to differ. It is a very neat and uncluttered console on the dashboard. The ergonomics in the design also scores high. The only shortcoming, IMO, is that the sideboards on the doors are highly bland. Ideally, would have preferred the fabric accented styling like in Esteem. But I guess everything can’t be perfect. Well, I have plans of painting certain parts of the sideboards with “Sparkling Silver”; that should enliven things to a good extent.
The Aircon is simply brilliant and works up real quick time. The power steering is also a joy in the city. But the EPS needs a bit ‘getting used to’ and sometimes may feel disconnected.

Serious Shortcomings
The “wrap around” design gives the interiors a dark effect.
The rear visibility is seriously hampered by the smallish window on the back. This would very much hurt the drivers in India who rarely use the mirrors while reversing unlike the counterparts in the foreign countries. The ‘Europe’ centric design shows here.
The boot space is nothing to write home about. But the consolation is that, it has got a deep boot and if it only bags, they can be stacked up in quiet large numbers.
If the driver is 6”+ in height then there are some serious problems for the rear seat passengers.
Waiting period definitely is a huge dampener. But there are assurances of increasing the production.

How does it stack up against competition?
Getz:
The Getz definitely offers better room in the rear and boot. But in every other department, Swift easily outsmarts it. Be it zippiness or road handling, Swift is definitely ahead. But if the car is for a family of 5 who require generous room and luggage space, then Getz scores. I think Getz is a very fine car but for its pricing.

Palio:
Truly a worthy competitor to the Swift. Though launched a good 4 years back, this car can truly match up on every frontier. But with the legendary Fiat ASS (After Sales Service), it is definitely a huge factor going against it.

Corsa Sail:
With a new pricing, Sail looks like a good alternative. But except for the boot space falls flat in every other department in comparison. Especially the aircon and front seating are absolutely mediocre.

Overall Summary
In simple words, the car is “Value For Money”. And coming with the ASS (After Sales Service) of Maruti, clearly makes it a winner. Have driven it for about 1000 kms and is now due for the first service. The FE (Fuel Economy) figures are very impressive. I got an overall average of around 15 kmpl for the first 900 k (55% on highway, 35% in the city, 10% in the ghat section). So basically it averages 13 kmpl in the city and 18 kmpl on the highway, both without AC. With the aircon ON, FE should drop by 1.0 or 1.5 kmpl. The dealer Bimal, Indiranagar also did a great job in the delivery though they made me wait for a good 3 months.
All in all, a nice product own and drive. Happy driving….

2 comments:

krishnan said...

Real good observations. Infact my swift LXi has just come out of the first service. I did ask the service engineers about slugishness at speeds below 40 kmph but they do not admit. When I accelerate from ,say 25kmph, in third , the needle rises slowly and once at 40-45kmph it goes to nitro mode at the same acceleration level. I still think it is abnormal. Secondly, at idle with windows rolled up, i do hear some sort of intermittent chuckle form the engine, like a scaled down version of a diesel loco. maybe to do with the valves.
Can I request your views on the above. Shall be thankfull. Thanks.
Krishnan.
Email; ks.ks.krishnan@gmail.com

Hi Chittoor said...

Hi,
Very good review yaar. Here,s one prob. I want to buy a swift vdi but unable to decide between silver and azure grey. i liked the azure grey in ur picture , but my wife insists for silver one. My friends are telling azure grey looks old and doesnt give a new look. whats ur opinion. As u own a azure grey swift i need ur opinion.
Thanks in advance.
Venkat( mail me at ctrivenkatesh@gmail.com)