Yes, I know that the whole of India is awaiting the launch of the new Swift and that too very eagerly. Seems like 17th August is the most awaited date in everyone’s calendar. Atleast so in the Indian scenario. Why even now, I get all types of questions thrown to me about this car. I cant really say anything as of now coz, the time when I actually drove the 2011 Swift and the time now when its going to be launched, there would be some changes. Changes as in some features added or deleted and stuff. Surprising to know now is the addition of a Zdi variant for the diesel. Something Maruti have refrained from in their hatches. In this article, the entire journey of the Maruti Swift has been traced. Right from the time it was launched in 2005 till now. Never before has Indiandrives given a tribute to any vehicle but then the Swift is no ordinary car and it actually changed the way people looked at Maruti Suzuki as a company. After all, which car can claim to have a waiting period through its entire product life cycle? Not any that I can remember of and hence this article.
This was the time when the car was launched. There were lots of speculations even back then about this BMW Mini look alike. There was some resentment as well about such a large hatch making its debut in the Indian car market and the usual average kya hain questions. However, once the car was launched, there was no stopping the car buying public. While Maruti dealers weren’t too open about the mileage figures and all that this car was giving, they were very upfront in saying that there was a 3 months waiting period for this car. When people started looking at this car up close and personal, they realized that there was a new ZXI trim, something which Maruti never used to offer and also no standard or LX model. The bare basic trim was the LXI which had AC, power windows and power steering. On the top end trim level, ZXI, there was 14 inch wheels on offer with alloys, climate control (what is it and how does it work were the first questions in many minds) and most important of all, ABS, EBD and twin airbags. Its competition, the Getz offered none of this except maybe the alloy wheels. On the engine front, Maruti didn’t go all out and instead chose to plonk one of the relatively bigger engines that they had with them and it happened to be the reliable 1.3 liter unit borrowed from the Esteem. This all aluminium engine sort of reassured the car buying public over a relatively unknown car. It was a big gamble that MSIL were playing with 1.3 liter engine in a hatch, after just seeing what the public reaction to the Getz was. However, this engine produced a healthy for a hatch 85 Bhp of power. The company also didn’t claim anything about the mileage figures and chose to play dumb. Showroom sales staff would often tell customers to expect Esteem like or something more than it fuel efficiency figures.
Then came the interior quality part. Again something not seen from the Maruti stables anytime before. The company boldly proclaimed that this was their best screwed car in recent times and the interiors felt so. After all, height adjustable driver’s seat was a luxury on its own in a small car. This easily made many people to forgive the not so spacious rear seat and the dismal luggage capacity that this car had. Add to it the claustrophobic feeling that one would get from inside this car. Moreover, central locking also debuted as a factory fitted option from Maruti in this car wherein exceed the speed of 20 kmph and all the doors would automatically lock. Even though the pros outweighed its cons, the Swift did have some serious design flaws and something which the overthinking Indian car buying public didn’t think of earlier. After initial ownerships, there were complaints of rattles from the Swift’s body. The tiny boot meant that family trips would no longer be possible. If there was a guest visiting the family, there was no additional space to seat him/her.
This year brought in the much demanded diesel engine in the Maruti Swift. The now very famous Multijet diesel engine. This engine got enormous booking even before the expected launch date was announced. Well, the people who knew the Swift’s foibles of not having a good enough fuel efficiency turned to the diesel to iron out the woes and BOY! The diesel did actually manage to bring out an even wider smile to their faces. Not only was it peppy and silent but it also was very fuel efficient. More efficient than even the Tata diesel cars of those times. For the ratio of economy to fun, there was nothing even remotely close to what the diesel or DDiS swift offered at those times. Though Maruti likes to flog a dead horse from time to time, in 2008, they finally retired the Esteem and gave the Swift a much needed boot and asked the car buying public to Dzire it. Well, this gamble also paid off and the Dzire also now commands a waiting period from the time it was launched. There was also a limited edition Swift Glam edition which offered the choice of a factory fitted music system as also all beige interiors. Needless to say, the car buying public gave it the thumbs down and Maruti hastily removed the Glam name from the market and stuck onto offering the all black theme for the interiors of this car.
Suzuki were experimenting with replacing all their G and M series engines. In comes the K series engine packed with technologies galore but thrifty enough to be plonked into a small car called as the Swift. The engine was downsized to 1.2 liters and it still managed to produce 83 Bhp of power. Though this change could never be felt in the way the Swift managed to devour kilometers. The bottom end of this Swift’s power band was strengthened enough and in the process, it lost out a bit on the top end. However apart from the reduced emissions and a much modern engine, there was the obvious benefit of having reduced fuel bills courtesy the new motor returning approximately 2-3 kmpl more than the old G series engine. This was another feather in the cap of Maruti. In 2010, however some variants of the Swift diesel were recalled owing to a faulty connecting rod for the diesel engine. This fault was traced to the OEM from Italy. This however, didn’t dent any of the Swift’s reputation for being a reliable car. If at all, the waiting periods for the Swift diesel increased to approximately 5 months.
6 years and without much change in its body structure, the Swift carried on. Now, the new one has already raked in 33k bookings within the short span that it announced that the 2011 edition would be launched on August 17th. If this is anything to show that the show would go on inspite of the old Swift bowing out and the new one stepping in, then am sure that the all rounder and enthusiast car pedestal would be taken over by the new one.
The only thing that the international Swift did and the Indian one never did was rallying. Though the older 1.3 liter engine is a tuner’s favourite given then number of modifications that it can take and still be reliable enough, rallying the Swift never took off. Though some performance shops like Red Rooster Performance have souped up Swifts with white roof and bigger alloys with suitable wider rubber, these cars never came onto the fore of rallying. Most of the Maruti cars billed to be driver’s cars like the Baleno, Gypsy, Esteem and even the Zen have seen some rallying action. Slap on a turbocharger and a remap of the ECU with equally shocking neon underlights with a fat exhaust bolted on and the regular Swift would be a flying machine. Not to mention the kind of stares that one would be receiving while piloting this machine on the streets. Though, I have never owned a Swift, with the promise of the new 2011 Swift being more spacious than the old one and having experienced it myself first hand, I am doing all the saving up that I can do and put my money on one. Donations are obviously welcome here. Just joking on that count and like the rest of India, I too am waiting with crossed fingers. Now, the only hope is that Maruti prices the car just in the same fashion that it did with the 2005 Swift. Well, just Rs 20k more would do the trick in ensuring that the Swift stays on top of its small hatchback pedestal or should I say mount? From the whispers that I have been hearing, the top end ZDI should be priced around the Rs 6.2 lakhs mark. Now, how true is this would remain to be seen and only Maruti would be able to disclose the correct pricing on 17th August. So, all eyes, ears and sensations would be logged onto 17th August, I presume. Mr Jetta, you may be given the cold shoulder on that day, it seems.