Now though there is a new Swift on the horizon and I flew to India earlier this year to sample this eagerly awaited top seller.
Suzuki has been on a bit of a high at the moment here in South Africa. After the brand dropped the Alto and Splash models, it introduced the spacious and economical Celerio followed by the Baleno and then the funky Ignis, which has been winning various local and international awards since.
When it comes to the Swift though, the brand seems to know what they are doing as more than 5.4-million units have been sold worldwide since 2005. India seems to make up a large portion of that number because as I found out, the Swift is one of the most popular cars on their rather congested roads.
It is also built there and I was lucky enough to get a first-hand experience of this operation at one of Suzuki's biggest factories just outside New Delhi. Here, a new Suzuki drives off of the production line every sixty seconds which means that the plant can produce more than 250 000 vehicles a year, all of which are scooped up by the public.
The new Swift
The new Swift continues its familiar shape with design features such as the wraparound windscreen, familiar headlamps and a tall cabin with its sloping roofline. It looks very much like the previous model but as one would expect, it has been modernised and improved upon. The Swift definitely draws attention with its somewhat aggressive and sporty front fascia, muscular arches and blacked out A and B pillars.
As with the exterior, I can tell that Suzuki is aiming this car at a more youthful customer when it comes to the interior. The inside has been completely redesigned and now features a new dashboard with a sort of V-shape layout.
I was, however, expecting a bit more in terms of fun in the design language, especially when you take the Ignis' interior into account. Nevertheless, the Swift offers a neat layout and I really liked the flat bottom multi-function steering wheel and without doubt, the seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system.
The rest of the interior remains spacious and even more so now because although this new Swift might be 10mm shorter than before, it does feature a 20mm longer wheelbase meaning more room inside and a boot that is 20% larger at a claimed 265-litres.
We managed to get a few minutes behind the wheel of the new Swift, far out of any built-up area because I doubt I’d be writing this today if we drove in the city. Anyway, the new Swift is built on an all-new platform called Heartect which is 30kg lighter than before. This means that the lightest Swift the range is now just 890kg, which is 104kg lighter than the previous model.
This, in turn, improves fuel economy as well as agility, something which came in handy on the twisty little mountain pass that had been selected for us. The car feels great to drive as has always been the case. It encourages you to have fun and yet when it's confronted with the traffic, it is small and agile to meander around obstacles.
Powering the Swift I drove is the familiar naturally aspirated 1.2-litre four-cylinder motor which produces 67kW of power and sends it to the front wheels via a five-speed manual gearbox. Suzuki claims that this motor will return around 4.3-litres/100km.
After my brief sample of the new Swift, it is clear that the car might not rewrite the small car handbook, but it most certainly takes Suzuki's winning recipe and adds a whole lot more flavour to it. It’s a quality product with refreshed styling and technology both visible and under the skin.
The big question, however, is what will we in South Africa be getting on the showroom floor. You see, many European markets have the new Swift already but we are getting our models from India.
Suzuki Auto South Africa is, however, ‘studying’ our market with our needs and demands. I for one would like to see the exact same car that I drove in India. It had the sporty looks, the LED daytime running lights, a new infotainment system and the sporty steering wheel. I guess we will have to wait and see what Suzuki offers up and most importantly, at what price.
EUROPEAN model pictured