Maruti just introduced the third generation of the legendary Swift in India. Since its introduction way back in 2005 the car has raked jaw-dropping numbers for India’s largest selling car manufacturer. Maruti first gave a subtle nip and tuck treatment in 2009 and a more pronounced evolutionary design update in 2012 (2nd generation).
Circa 2018, Maruti Suzuki has brought in a comprehensively updated model in India. The 2018 Swift is an altogether new car in terms of design, interiors and the mechanicals. Let’s explore the new avatar of India’s most loved hatchback.
The front end has definitely got resemblance with the new Dzire. However, the new black hexagonal grille on the Swift is devoid of any chrome (thankfully) and renders a sporty character to the car. The swept back and sharp-looking headlamps flank the sides.
The front bumper gets a slim bottom air dam in the chin which wraps around the fog lamps. The new Swift looks a lot sportier and contemporary than the present generation Dzire. The ZDi+ and ZXi+ variants get projector headlamps with nice looking DRLs. However, all other lower variants have to settle in for normal humdrum headlamps with halogens and devoid of the characteristic DRLs.
The side profile, though fully fresh retains the old Swift stance. The ‘wide body’ below the narrow glasshouse is retained, which is a signature design element of the car. Another, the eye-catching element is the rear door handles which are mounted on the C-pillar instead of the conventional placement (Chevrolet Beat!). The alloys are 15-inches and we wished a bigger tyre on the new car (The international variants get a larger and sporty looking 16-inch alloy). The rear also gets a fresh design with a new set of lamps, while retaining the flavour of the old Swift. Maruti could have definitely added some more zing to the rear design though.
The interior obviously shares a lot of elements with the current gen Dzire. The car gets an all-black interior with some chrome and grey elements, exuding a sportiness to the cabin. The new Swift has many elements that differentiate it from the Dzire, like the new circular AC vents and unique circular climate control and display. The twin hooded speedometer and tacho looks sporty and has a nice red and orange combo hue when lighted. The flat bottom steering wheel gets some chrome and steering mounted controls. We are grossly disappointed with the basic MID sitting between the dials and we were expecting Maruti to fit in the high-resolution display spotted on the Baleno and the S-Cross. The top trims (ZXi+ and ZDi+) get the gorgeous looking 7.0-inch SmartPlay touchscreen. This unit packs in a lot of features and driver aids including the Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
The increased wheelbase has improved the leg room and the cabin feel a lot wider than the outgoing model. The front seats are pretty wide and comfy like in the old gen Swifts. However, a little more under-thigh support for the rear seats would have improved comfort levels for the rear occupants. There are still some shiny plastics in and around the cabin, which is a real downer for a car introduced in 2018.
The lower variants (all variants below the top end ZXi+/ZDi+) get normal non-touch screen music system and it is neatly integrated into the dashboard. Also, the LXi and VXi variant don’t get the beautifully executed automatic climate control system, instead gets the archaic manual controls.
Engine and Performance
Absolutely no changes in the engine front. The strong petrol and diesel duo will continue to power the Swift. But there is something to get excited about. With the adoption of the new ‘Heartect’ platform shared with the Baleno and the Dzire, new Swift is 85 kg lighter than the outgoing model. Lower kerb weight obviously translates to better performance on the tarmac. Also, the third generation Swift gets Auto Gear Shift (AGS) transmission for both the petrol and diesel variants.
Let’s first check out the petrol manual. The petrol variant pulls smoothly right from the word go. However, the power tapers off significantly in the mid-range and hence require constant workout with the gear lever and need to rev to eke out power from the VTVT petrol pot. The K-Series engine can be revved all the way up to 6500 rpm and the five-speed tranny is a delight to use. The AGS (mind you it is the same manual transmission which is automated and not a CVT) performs pretty well in the city conditions offering surprisingly smooth shifts at low speeds. However, when you cane the engine on the open highways or on fast ghat sections the gearbox struggle a lot to shift from one gear to the other and the driver can feel some moments of lull (read as lose of power) and jerkiness between the shifts.
Now let’s sneak a peak in to the one with the national engine, the Multijet Diesel. The older diesel Swift with its addictive turbo kick has become more entertaining with the drop in weight. The turbo lag still stays intact! However, the DDis more than compensate for it with an addictive kick once the turbo start spooling in the 1700-1900 rpm band and the car just starts leaping forward. Also, the five-speed manual comes with a light clutch and the gear shifts are smooth and clean. However, that’s not the case with the AGS box. The inherent lag of the AGS box coupled with the turbo lag creates a lot of confusion and there is bucket loads of jerkiness. However, both the manual and AGS equipped diesel motor has a meaty mid-range making the diesel Swift an able highway mile muncher.
Ride and Handling
The first generation Swift was a real hoot to ride. The car could carry a lot of speed into the corners with loads of confidence. The second generation traded in little of the sharp handling for a softer ride. The third generation Swift has got more matured in the ride and handling department. The car definitely handles well, but don’t have the sharpness of the first gen Swift. However, the car gets a big car like feel and filter bumps and undulations far better than the previous models. But then again, we are pretty disappointed with the over-assisted power steering which lacks any feel and don’t blend with the sporty character of the rest of the car.