The styling is a letdown - more like a facelift than a true model change - but the offset is provided by a starting sticker that's the same as the basic Swift from 2005. That means pricing from $15,990 for the manual-only Swift GA, although even that car now comes with seven airbags and ESP stability control.
The Swift continues as a boxy five-door hatch that's easy to drive and park, and a serious rival to a range of baby-class cars including the benchmark Volkswagen Polo, Toyota's Yaris and the ageing Honda Jazz.The bottom line is the bottom line for bargain-basement buyers, and Suzuki has done well - helped by the strength of the Australian dollar - to hold the starting price down to $15,990. Most customers are going for the slightly upscale GL from $16,690, mostly because it is available with Suzuki's four-speed auto but also because it gets a slightly better dashboard with a revcounter and USB sound input, as well as extra paint on the basic plastic parts.
The Swift now comes with a 1.4-litre engine but there is promise of more go in an upcoming Swift Sport. Suzuki Australia claims a significant influence from the mid-sized Kizashi, particularly in the dashboard design and cabin quality, while trumpeting the success of the previous model - which set a Suzuki record for hitting two-million sales.
There are three models - GA, GL and GLX - with the top-line car going to $18,990 or $20,690 as an auto.
The car has a slightly longer wheelbase, to improve ride and add some millimetres in the cabin. Suzuki claims everything from improved braking to sharper electric steering, as well as better ride comfort from tweaked - but still rear torsion-beam - suspension.
"The development team's motto for the new Swift was simple - More Swift," says Tony Devers, general manager of Suzuki Australia.You could be forgiven for thinking that someone put the previous Swift into a 3D photocopier and set the result to 105 per cent. So it's a very, very familiar family look.The previous Swift was a revelation when it arrived, and scooped the 2005 Carsguide Car of the Year award, but not the shape is predictable and nothing special. Even so, the dashboard is more modern and user-friendly and the overall space inside is more comfortable and enjoyable.Suzuki Swift claims class leading safety thanks to seven airbags in the cabin and the usual ABS brakes-ESP stability control. The seventh bag is for the driver's knees. The great news is that all the protection comes on the basic car, not through an extra-cost safety package or exclusively on the flagship model. The previous Swift was a five-star car and Suzuki is expecting the same score for the new model.
Suzuki Swift has done some really great cars in recent years, most notably the previous Swift and the Kizashi, but this one is only good. If that sounds like criticism, it is.
But not because of any faults in the car. It's just that Suzuki can, and should, do better and will need more to compete with its rivals in coming years. The Volkswagen Polo costs a fair bit more but is the new benchmark in the class, and the Swift must also be shopped against the impressive Ford Fiesta and even the ageing Toyota Yaris.
It's hard to make direct comparisons, with so many body styles and different engines among the opposition, but the Swift is right in the five-door heartland with its 1.4-litre engine. Swift have good drive, and has good space for the class, with good value.
Swift rides better than before and is fairly sharp in its steering response, but the engine is let down in the four-speed auto. So the new Swift is a nice car and a nice drive. The pricetag is very good. But we expected more.