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First drive: Swift big on safety, low on price

Sales hope: Suzuki Australia believes it can sell 350 Swifts per month – almost twice the number it achieved with the Ignus.

Suzuki's handsome Swift is launced into showrooms Australia wide

18 Feb 2005

UNPERTURBED that its ‘rogue state’ distributor in Queensland introduced the car two weeks ahead of the official national launch, Suzuki Australia this week sent its vital new Swift hatchback into showrooms in other states with an offer its rivals could find difficult to counter.

Starting from $15,990, the handsome little five-door is fitted standard with dual airbags, ABS brakes (with EBD and brake assist), air-conditioning, remote central locking, electric windows/mirrors, a three-spoke leather-clad tiller and a six-speaker CD stereo with steering-mounted switches.

Note the attention to saving lives here as well as making occupants comfortable.

And that an S model with front compartment side-impact airbags, curtain airbags running the length of each front and rear side window and the usual S-equals-pseudo-Sports extras – fog lamps, alloy wheels etc – is also available for another $2000.

Could the S moniker now turn to Safety rather than Sport?According to Suzuki Australia general manager (automobiles) David Le Mottee, market research conducted with the Swift indicated that life-saving features were as important to consumers as a sub-$20,000 sticker price, creature comforts and looks.

Dual airbags are considered a must and there is a growing awareness of safety ratings from independent bodies such as NCAP,” he said at the car’s launch this week.

“The Swift’s handling experience also reflects a clear European focus … (and) we believe this development work resulted in the Swift being an exceptional car, in every aspect of its design, assembly and attention to engineering detail.”

Based on an all-new chassis and replacing the ignominious Ignus, the Swift has what is claimed to be the widest wheel track in its class at 1470mm/1480mm front/rear. A front driver, the car rests on a 2390mm wheelbase, uses front strut/rear torsion beam suspension and relies on rear drum brakes.

Standard wheel size is 15 inches and the steering is conventional power-assisted rack and pinion. The turning circle is 9.4 metres.

Power comes from a 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine that has variable valve timing and can muster 74kW at 6000rpm and 133Nm at 4000rpm. The transmission is a short-stroke five-speed manual – designed to give a firm and fast shift feel – or a $2000 four-speed automatic (with gated shift) can be ordered.

Claimed fuel consumption for the hatchback is 7.0 litres per 100km (combined) for the manual or 7.5L/100km for the auto. Kerb weight ranges from 1030kg to 1060kg, depending on the variant.

30 center imageInside, there are some visual references to the GSX R750 motorbike and the 240mm front seat travel attracts a further ‘best in class’ claim.

A spherical manual shift knob adds to the sporting flavour, large glass areas are said to enhance all-round vision for the driver and an information unit with readouts for outside temperature and average fuel consumption sits on the centre of the dashboard.

The luggage compartment has a 213-litre volume, extending to 562 litres when the 60/40-split rear bench is folded and tumbled.

For those who want usual ‘S’ features such as spoilers, subwoofers and drill-holes in the pedals, these are available as dealer-fit accessories. Cruise control is also offered in this vein.

Basking in the kudos that Australia is the first market outside Japan to receive the all-new Swift, Suzuki Australia believes it can sell 350 units per month – almost twice the number it achieved with the Ignus. A three-door GTI version is on the cards for release in 2006.

Swift $15,990
Swift S $17,990

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