2021 Maruti Suzuki Swift takes on its rivals

The snazzy hatchback gets a more powerful ‘DualJet’ engine with idle start-stop tech, but can it beat rivals which come feature-loaded?

By Mayank Dhingra calendar 30 Mar 2021 Views icon63914 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp

Maruti Suzuki India has recently given a mid-life makeover to its hot-selling hatchback – the Swift. The third-generation model, which was introduced first at the Auto Expo 2018, and went home to 187,916 buyers in FY2020, and sold 150,957 units in FY2021 so far till end-February, now gets a few exterior updates, and a mega overhaul underneath the hood.

On the outside, the 2021 Swift facelift is largely similar to the outgoing car, save for the new horizontal strip of chrome upfront in the new mesh-patterned grille. Also, it now gets a dual-tone paint option, which has been made available in three combinations – blue with white roof, white and black roof, and lastly red and black roof – the one that we drove.

Step into the cabin and again there’s no dramatic difference in terms of the design or layout, but for a new fabric for the seat upholstery, introduction of Suzuki’s SmartPlay infotainment unit, a coloured TFT multi-information display that also gets a G-force indicator, and addition of cruise-control buttons on the flat-bottom steering wheel. The major difference, however, lies in the engine.

It has the go to match the show
From a 1.2-litre, four-cylinder, K-series motor developing 83bhp, the Swift facelift now gets the ‘DualJet’ version of the same engine which basically utilises two fuel injectors for every cylinder.

The outcome is an 8.4 percent bump up in power to 90bhp and an incremental fuel economy still, up by 2kpl to 23.2kpl for the 5-speed MT and 23.76kpl for the 5-speed AMT, the one with us. The fuel efficiency claims are as per ARAI certification, and the standard idle start-stop system has a role to play too in achieving these numbers.

A look at the engine compartment also revealed that Maruti Suzuki India has updated the car with the addition of an underbodybash plate made up of ABS plastic to protect the critical engine components, as well as a heat shield ahead of the exhaust manifold. Given the commonality of parts among its models, customers of other cars such as the Dzire, Baleno and the outgoing Swift, should also be able to retrofit these parts easily.

At start-up, the four-cylinder petrol engine is absolutely refined with no vibrations felt anywhere on the steering wheel, gear lever or the pedals, which could also be credited to its inherent smoothness as well as good use of damping materials in the firewall. The engine noise is also well contained inside the cabin with a layer of noise-deadening material on the underside of the bonnet.

The Swift has always been known for its sportier performance, and now with the increase in power, the acceleration and driveability have improved even further. The car is always eager to go fast with the engine note also complementing and offering a therapeutic growl when revved hard.

However, the Marelli-sourced five-speed AMT unit has severe limitations and is unable to support an aggressive-driving style. The engine paired with this automated manual transmission is not a match made in heaven as the gearbox struggles to be in the right gear at the right time, and also suffers from delays in gear engagement, especially in the initial gears. The overall experience is marred by the slow-responding AMT gearbox, which will push a lot of owners who want to have fun from the nimble hatchback to shift into the manual mode, where it holds gears until upshifted by the driver.

Driving dynamics
In terms of ride and handling, the Swift now gets a very comfortable suspension setup that takes most bumps and potholes into its stride. The car is able to glide over bad patches without unsettling the occupants.

The downside, however, is slightly reflected in the handling department, where the carwith its 185-section tyres reaches its limits much earlier into corners and also feels unstable under hard braking. But, on the other side, the brakes feel sharp and well gripping and the cruise control that functions in incremental steps of 1kph from the steering buttons is also usable to maintain constant pace on the highways. Dual airbags, ABS and EBD remain standard across trims.

While the cabin is well insulated from unwanted road noises with good levels of overall NVH, the seats could do with better under-thigh support, as well as the six-speaker audio setup can get better speakers, that end up crackling at higher volumes.

Maruti Suzuki India has revised the prices of the 2021 Swift facelift by as much as Rs 25,000 ex-showroom, to now fall between Rs 573,000 and Rs 827,000, depending upon variants. But, while it still remains the de-facto choice for first-time buyers and people looking for reliability and ease of ownershipcomforted by the company’s massive aftersales support network, competition in the form of the well-equipped and well-priced Nissan Magnite, Renault Kiger and Maruti’s own Baleno, are standing tall in the Swift’s way.

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