Taste a bit of swift off-roading
We joined Suzuki UK on a Swift Day Out in some models that would be right at home in SA
Pseudo 4x4 crossover hatchbacks with their roof rails, body cladding and slightly higher ground clearance are all a bit fake, don’t you think?
The Volkswagen Polo Cross, Toyota Etios Cross and others look the part but they don’t really do anything, do they? They won’t get you out of a bit of mud or give you better traction on a twisty gravel road; they don’t have the mechanicals for that. Instead they are all about looking like you have that spirit of adventure while parked outside the local urban cafe.
Suzuki has some good vehicles nowadays and its sales are on an upward trajectory with the company increasing global sales in 2018 by 3% to its highest volume yet. In SA the company upped its sales 37.8% in 2018.
It has some great four-wheel drives too but what if it had a car that could actually do what the faux 4x4s cannot? I joined Suzuki GB on the south coast of the UK to experience a number of their new models, including one that seems even more suited to SA conditions than the pristine country lanes of England.
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That model is the Swift 4x4 AllGrip Hybrid and yes, it really is a 4x4, well sort of. You wouldn’t know it because it doesn’t have roof rails or overdone plastic cladding. In fact, unless you look underneath at the rather aftermarket-looking mechanicals bolted onto the rear axle, you’d hardly know it isn’t a regular Swift at all.
But it is and we took it off-roading. Not in the cool and capable Jimny, but in a Swift hatch, with normal tyres to boot. Granted, we didn’t climb mountains, wade through rivers or try to conquer sand dunes, but the off-road track on the famous Beaulieu Estate provided lots of mud, forest tracks, fields and even slightly rocky terrain, all stuff the average Cross vehicle would run a mile from.
And the Swift took it all in its stride. There’s no manual intervention by the driver; a simple viscous coupling detects slippage on all the wheels and sends torque to the rear axle when needed. It even scaled some very slippery mud, while heading up a slope, like a Jack Russell in search of something to play with, and it just kept going.
Obviously it’s still not a full-on 4x4, but I was impressed; after all it’s a Swift, the kind of car people buy just to commute to work and the shops, not go driving around in a bit of mud or across the nearest field.
It’s not just about its AllGrip either because there’s another badge on the back — hybrid. It’s a mild hybrid, which means a 12V lithium-ion battery mounted beneath the front passenger seat as part of what the company calls its smart hybrid vehicle.
We tried it in another Swift model in 2018 and with the integrated start generator it helps to make this Swift more efficient by providing an extra 2.3kW and 50Nm on top of what the 1.2l engine provides.
It’s not a full hybrid so you don’t really get an electric vehicle mode like in a Toyota Prius or the like but you do get silent starting, less engine noise and 10% reduced fuel consumption. So what say you Suzuki SA? All-wheel drive ability and 10% more efficient seems like a good option for the market.
If you read our first drive on the Suzuki Swift Sport recently then you will know it’s due to go on sale in SA imminently but what if you don’t want to go all out sporty? Our Swift Day Out also gave us the chance to experience a Swift with attitude, aptly named, the Swift Attitude.
Its sporty body kit gives it the looks to match its badge, and it also uses the 1.2 dualjet four-cylinder engine. Suspension is slightly firmer than regular models with the company doing extensive testing to make it the best combination for the roads on which it will be driven but it’s not full-on sport.
It’s comfortable, yet well set-up if you like to enjoy the corners a bit and with good gearing, reasonable power at 66kW and a well appointed interior. It might struggle a bit at altitude without a turbo though and the boosterjet engine would give it more attitude in SA, should the company decide to bring this little terrier to the country.