Lonavala: Maruti Suzuki recently took the covers off its highly-anticipated 2018 Swift. First launched in India in 2005, the car has done millions in sales since and found a cosy home in countless Indian families. Since however, the rivals have upped their game and a rather jaded look has brought down Swift's image marginally. That Maruti Suzuki and Nexa also have other offerings in the similar price bracket has meant that Swift lost out its premier positioning in the small car market.
That may just change with the all-new Swift hitting Indian roads and the car will be officially launched at the Auto Expo next month.
Before the full drive review, here's a quick check on the top five hits and top five misses in the new Maruti Suzuki Swift 2018:
Top five hits
* Looks - The Swift gets a complete makeover on the outside which makes it an absolutely fresh and contemporary machine on wheels on the roads. While still retaining some of the inherent genetics of the outgoing model, the new car gets a single-aperture front grille, sharp DRL LED headlights, floating roof line, pillar-mounted rear door handles and LED taill lights.
* Dimensions - The Swift is based on Maruti Suzuki's 5th generation HEARTECT platform. It is lighter, wider, and gets a longer wheelbase. In terms of numbers, this means weight reduction of 85 kilos, an increase in wheelbase by 20mm, an increase in width of 40mm and a boot which at 58 litres is 28 per cent bigger than the outgoing model. There is more legroom at the front and at the back and more shoulder room at the rear.
* Safety - For the first time in a Swift, ABS, EBD, dual airbags and child seat restraints come as standard across variants.
* Engine - The engine options in the Swift remain the same - K12 VVT petrol engine and the DDiS peppy diesel engine. These have been much liked by the Indian car-buying audience over the years and Maruti Suzuki has not tinkered much with it. The tuning in the new model though has been done in a way that there is a marginal increase in fuel efficiency while the lighter body also contributes to a 10 per cent rise in o-100kmph figures.
* Automatic options - There has been a growing demand for auto transmission option in the Vitara Brezza. And while Maruti Suzuki have yet not confirmed if that is a possibility in the near future, the new Swift does get the AGS option in both petrol and diesel. That is the biggest hit that the new car has on offer as a small hatch with a peppy engine and now with auto transmission can be a resounding success in city driving conditions.
Top five misses
* Features available on the auto options - Considering the automatic transmission options would possibly be priced on top of the cost pyramid of the Swift, the variant has noticeable misses. The sharp LED front lights which add so much character to the front profile in the manual top-end is missing in the auto option. The car also gets silver-cut alloys instead of diamond-cut alloys in the auto variants. While still decent to look at, the diamond-cut alloys are leagues ahead in terms of visual appeal. Inside, the auto variants also do not get the infotainment systems.
* Controls on driver side - The controls for lock/unlock, power windows and ORVM adjustment on the driver side remain as they were and look quite plain - especially considering the cabin and dash layout in the new Swift. Upgrading the switches could have worked well with the overall thematics.
* Rear comfort and convenience - Rear passengers won't be completely satisfied with the experience of being in the Swift - again, especially because what is on offer for the front passngers. The seats are just about comfortable and the pillar-mounted door handles means that on the inside, the window does not really feel as big as it really is. There are also no rear charging and USB points, and at a time when rivals are bringing in AC vents even in their smaller hatch, Maruti Suzuki ought to have equipped the otherwise red-hot Swift with the vents as well.
* No 1-litre boosterjet engine - The European version of the car gets a sportier Swift while auto enthusiasts in India will have to just wait with envious patience. While the existing engines do do their job relatively well, those looking at a more hands-on feel of a drive may just look elsewhere - Baleno RS, perhaps?
* Light steering - The new Swift is still a fun car to drive but a lot of the experience of driving a Swift was from its steering. The new car gets a lighter steering which, frankly, takes some of that fun away.