Suzuki: 2014 Swift RS quick drive

Suzuki: 2014 Swift RS quick drive

Since it’s launch in 2005, the Swift light hatchback has gone from being a quantum leap in Suzuki product design and quality, to a strong front runner in discerning car markets such as New Zealand.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAUnlike other brands of small cars, you’ll find the humble Swift doesn’t garner detractors, but rather you usually find that people have an enthusiasm for its cute looks, practical abilities and realistic running costs.

There was a hint of the new Mini Cooper hatch in some of the design elements, such as windscreen pillars and tall doors with short glass areas. Although that was as close as it got, that was, until the Swift Sport turned up.

Then it was a toss up between a cramped two-door Mini with service intervals that hit the pocket, or the five-door Swift which was far less quirky and more financially friendly to own.

Some would complain that this analysis of mine ignores the quality of the Mini, and the philosophy behind the icon, but let’s face it, most car owners don’t want, or need the complications of living with status-symbol cars.

As time moved along, various limited editions of the Swift have turned up, but the one that we are reviewing here is called the RS.

There are hundreds of connotations but we think the name Road Sport must be the best fit.

The RS 1.4-litre engine is not so peaky as the 1.6-litre engine fitted to the Swift Sport, although it has the rear disc brakes, keyless entry [which also means a start/stop button] and climate air-conditioning,  so the RS is a little a bit like the Sport, but without the bogan attitude.

The RS comes in two colours being, Mineral Grey [ import Grey as some would say] and Prime Plasma that could be realistically interpreted as being Metallic Green.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnother differentiation is the four-speed automatic transmission fitted to the RS, which in comparison the the Sport 1.6 with a CVT transmission will return reasonably good fuel economy, without the odd sounds of the engine mounted to a CVT transmission which is busily working out how to best match the revs and road speed.

At $26,500 plus on-road costs, Swift RS buyers get a five-star ANCAP safety rating, and the usual bunch of acronyms. The RS is fitted with ABS, EBD, ESP, seven SRS airbags, and TECT, which means the body structure will look after you in a crash when you need it most.

A bonus on the Swift RS is the additional safety of being seen thanks to the fitting of daylight running lights, and it also has a Hill Hold control, so you don’t roll backwards on hills.

The audio system produces a good quality sound with Bluetooth connectivity, and USB input for flash sticks or smart-phone connection. The USB connection can charge some smart-phones, but iPad and tablets will need more grunt,  so purchasing an adaptor for the cigarette lighter socket is a good bet.

To be honest,  we have always liked the Swift with its solid feel on the road, which is made even better with the 16-inch alloy wheels fitted to both  the RS and Sport models.

The Sport has the edge on the open road with more gears in its manual form, plus more power on tap, compared to the 1.4-litre with the four-speed automatic, however as most Swifts are urban road warriors, the convenience of the automatic in traffic is purely logic.

While writing this review, we have been advised that the next RS models coming through will be equipped with a double DIN Garmin Infotainment audio head unit.

This unit includes GPS mapping for directions, and the upgradable option of a reversing camera. Good move Suzuki NZ.

If there was ever a car worthy of recommending, the Suzuki Swift RS is it.

Words and pictures: Ian Ferguson

 

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