Surprising Suzie: The fun-to-drive, youthful car slices years off a driver's age

Together with a nip-and-tuck, the Suzuki Swift now also boasts striking two-tone paintwork.
Together with a nip-and-tuck, the Suzuki Swift now also boasts striking two-tone paintwork. ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery reported that Americans spent US$12 billion (S$19 billion) on plastic surgery last year.

Similar statistics are not available here, but I bet Singaporeans spend sizable amounts of money to look and feel younger too.

I have a simpler solution: Buy the latest Suzuki Swift Special Edition. The car slices years off a driver's age.

Under the bonnet, the Suzie is exactly the same fourth-generation Swift which Life reviewed in April 2011. The engine and drivetrain remain unchanged.

  • SPECS / SUZUKI SWIFT SPECIAL EDITION

  • Price: $97,900 with COE


    Engine: 1,372cc 16-valve inline-4


    Transmission: Four-speed automatic


    Power: 94bhp at 6,000rpm


    Torque: 130Nm at 4,000rpm


    0-100kmh: 11.1 seconds


    Top speed: 185kmh


    Fuel consumption: 6.2 litres/ 100km


    Agent: Champion Motors

But the competition has increased in the four years since. There is now the French-made Toyota Yaris and the hip Honda Jazz vying for a slice of the compact hatchback market, for example.

The latest Swift is an obligatory nip-and-tuck to keep the car looking fresh.

The most striking external feature is the two-tone paintwork. Buyers can pick a white or black roof with blue, red, white, black or silver body panels.

The car also has LED daytime- running lights, a new front grille, 16-inch alloy rims and a customised fuel-lid cover.

Together, these give it a youthful and sporty look.

Apart from a colleague who wondered whether the white roof works, most said that the Suzie was pretty and cute. My 17-year-old son even described it as an "Asian" Mini Cooper ("What is missing are racing stripes," he says).

The improvements extend to the cabin too. The instrument panel has a chrome trim that continues to the door panels, giving it a modern look. The multi-function steering wheel is leather-wrapped, which is a treat for both your eyes and hands.

The seats get the "two-tone treatment" as well. The seat bottom and back are in suede and the rest in leather.

The car's small, naturally aspirated engine gives a peppy purr when fired up. And it packs a surprise on the move. Throttle response is instantaneous and the car feels way faster than its official 11.1-second sprint from zero to 100kmh.

The steering is razor-sharp and the suspension is tuned to give drivers a good feel of the road, including the tiniest imperfections - giving the Suzie a kart-like handling.

It is so fun to take corners in the car even at low and moderate speeds that I took the long way home, including driving around the Serangoon Gardens roundabout twice.

My only grouse is that the gears run out too fast. In fourth and at 100kmh, the engine revs at about 2,800rpm. A fifth gear, which is common these days, would have lowered the engine speed for expressway cruising. Thankfully, the engine does not protest too loudly even at higher speeds.

The Swift excels in fuel economy. Over a four-day 319km test-drive with about 80 per cent of the distance clocked on expressways, it posted a fuel consumption of 7.3 litres per 100km. This is close enough to the official reported figure of 6.2 litres per 100km.

Priced at under $100,000, the Swift makes a strong case for itself because of its high driveability and equipment level.

And it made driving so enjoyable that I felt younger without any help from Botox or dermal fillers.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 07, 2015, with the headline 'Surprising Suzie'. Print Edition | Subscribe