2024 Maruti Suzuki Swift first drive review: Is three better than four?

The Swift has gotten a heart transplant, with a new 3-cylinder engine replacing the creamy smooth 4-cyl engine from before. Has the Swift DNA remained intact?
The new Swift gets a clamshell-like bonnet.
The new Swift gets a clamshell-like bonnet.Shot by Rohit G Mane for evo India

You know its a big deal when there’s a new Maruti Suzuki Swift in town. Introduced 19 years ago, this little hatchback followed in the footsteps of the Maruti 800, Zen and WagonR. It had a rocky start, but sales soon picked up and how. In the last 19 years, Maruti Suzuki has sold nearly 3 million Swifts in India — just let that number sink in. Three million. It is ubiquitous — you either have one in the family, or know someone who has one in the family. The last generation — Gen 3 — was selling close to 15,000 units a month, even at the end of its lifecycle. It received a mild refresh in 2021, but fundamentally it was the same car that was launched back in 2018.

The new Maruti Suzuki Swift is a big step up from the last one. Not so much on the platform front, it continues with the same one that was introduced on the last generation. However, there’s a new three cylinder engine that, spoiler alert, is down on power. Weight has gone up, as has the tech and features in the cabin. The big question is — does the Gen 4 Swift retain the DNA of the original Swift? Can it be an incredibly practical, utilitarian small car while still engaging the keen driver? Is it, most importantly, still fun? We’re about to jump in to the hot seat and find out!

2024 Maruti Suzuki Swift styling

Fundamentally, the new Swift isn’t radically different to the older one. The platform remains the same, the wheelbase remains the same — the fundamental underpinnings haven’t changed. As with the styling that properly caught me out, Maruti Suzuki has taken a very Porsche-esque "if it ain’t broke" approach. They have merely tweaked the smallest of elements on the car to make it look fresh, without diluting the visual identity that the last generation established. The headlights have a new DRL signature, the tail lights are slightly chunkier and get their signature, the grille looks a little sharper and the bumpers have more definition to them. The bonnet is probably the most distinct new styling element — a clamshell-like piece that sits on top of the nose. It seems to be receiving a lot of hate online for the "ungainly panel gap" but I must confess, I like the look of it in the flesh. It takes a loveable design like the Swift’s and adds a bit of flair to it.

2024 Maruti Suzuki Swift interiors and features

The insides have seen a more significant change. There’s a lot of parts bin rummaging going on, and that’s no bad thing — the 9-inch infotainment screen and AC controls are straight out of the Baleno. You get good ol’ analogue dials for the cluster, and a familiar steering wheel as well. Features on offer include auto headlamps, cruise control, wireless phone charging, rear AC vents, and automatic climate control along with wireless CarPlay and Android Auto. I like the seats — fabric they may be but they’re supportive and hold you well. The dash is hard plastic and is on par with what you would expect for this segment.

The new Swift gets the 9-inch infotainment screen and AC controls from the Baleno.
The new Swift gets the 9-inch infotainment screen and AC controls from the Baleno.Shot by Rohit G Mane for evo India

2024 Maruti Suzuki Swift engine and performance

The biggest change is to the engine. The 1.2-litre, 4-cyl K-Series petrol has been replaced by a 1.2-litre 3-cylinder engine codenamed Z12E. The engine makes 80.5bhp of peak torque and 111.7Nm of torque, which is down 8bhp and 1Nm from before. There’s no carryover from the K Series petrol — this is a ground-up design with a focus on keeping combustion efficient. The most important reason for the change is that this engine is future-proof, i.e. it can be hybridised. No hybrid, not even mild hybridisation at the moment though, and all you have is good ol’ nat-asp power on the Swift in the interest of keeping prices in check.

The new Swift gets a 3-cyl engine with 80.5bhp and 111.7Nm of torque.
The new Swift gets a 3-cyl engine with 80.5bhp and 111.7Nm of torque.Shot by Rohit G Mane for evo India

How does it drive? Push the start-stop button and the engine cranks up and has surprisingly well-contained vibrations at idle. Dip the light clutch in and slot it into gear — nothing feels too different on this front, still a very slick gearbox. It's once you start driving, and wring out the engine a little bit that you notice the vibrations. You can hear them and feel them through the rev range and they do get louder higher up towards the redline. The Swift’s 4-cyl engine was butter smooth, a characteristic that no longer exists. Do I miss it? To some degree, yes. That 4-cyl engine was quite enjoyable to rev out — it had its power concentrated in the upper reaches of the rev range but it didn’t mind being pushed hard. This new 3-cyl unit doesn’t rev as high and can be heard a little more, but it is also worth noting that the engine is the most refined three-pot around and does sound rather characterful at the same time.

Where the new engine doesn’t deliver is on the performance front. Maruti Suzuki claims 10 per cent better acceleration from 0-60kmph. Their claimed acceleration times for the new Swift are 0-60kmph in 5.5 seconds and 0-100kmph in 12.9 seconds. However, in our VBOX tests, we managed to do 0-60kmph in 6.06 seconds and 0-100kmph in 14.7 seconds in the MT. The AMT was even slower taking 7.46 seconds to 60kmph and 17.12 seconds to 100kmph. The takeaway? This Swift is not very swift. The performance, or lack of it, is down to two things — less power and added weight. The new Swift is heavier by 25kg due to the additional equipment it comes carrying including the six (standard) airbags, rear seat belts, larger 15-inch wheels (last gen had 14s) plus a revised rear suspension. On the go, you do feel that the turn of speed is not as rapid. The tune of this new engine does give you a meatier mid-range than before, with a little more punch between 3000-4000rpm. It gives you more usable torque at revs that we drive the car in most often, but then you also have to come to terms with the fact that the first generation Swift did a 0-100kmph time of 13.9 seconds. It was faster 19 years ago. The upside of this is better fuel economy. The Swift is rated for an ARAI fuel economy of 24.8kmpl on the MT and 25.75kmpl on the AMT (up from 23.2kmpl on the MT and 23.76kmpl on the AMT).

The MT remains a breeze to use with light controls and a short throw. Despite the changes on the powertrain front, the transmission remains a gem. The AMT has received an update as well with improvements to the calibration. There is noticeably less head-toss while shifting, and does a reasonably good job of downshifting when you need more rapid acceleration. Shift times aren’t quick though, and you can’t launch it aggressively — that’s why the AMT is so much slower to 100kmph.

There are two transmission options, a 5-speed MT or AMT.
There are two transmission options, a 5-speed MT or AMT.Shot by Rohit G Mane for evo India

2024 Maruti Suzuki Swift ride and handling

The Swift feels quite familiar on the ride and handling front, though. The Gen 5 Heartect platform is carried over, with the only change being to the rear suspension — it has a longer stroke to improve the ride. Further smaller tweaks were made to avoid a negative impact on the handling from this change to the rear. Sure enough, chuck it around a bend and it turns in with a very willing front end. It may have been running Bridgestone Ecopia tyres but they weren’t squealing too much, and the Swift inspired confidence. It remains a light car and there’s not too much weight to move around which holds it in good stead. The steering doesn’t have much by way of feedback, and while it is light, it does allow you to place the Swift confidently. Ride too remains very compliant, with the Swift dealing with bad roads very competently. This Swift feels like the most grown up of all Swifts yet — no longer does it crash in to big potholes, but rides through them with more composure. The damping sophistication has gotten better, it feels more grown up, almost like it has more expensive components on it. The Swift remains very city focussed being easy to drive and manoeuvre, and you’re reminded of that when you take it out on the highway. It does feel light, while the Swift does stay fairly stable at high speeds, it isn’t as comfortable here as a Polo or even an i20. The playfulness of Swift’s platform remains, however it isn’t breaking any new ground with this generational upgrade.

The new Swift deals with bad roads very competently.
The new Swift deals with bad roads very competently.Shot by Rohit G Mane for evo India

2024 Maruti Suzuki Swift safety

Safety has always been a concern around the Swift, with the last car performing dismally at the GNCAP crash tests. The new Swift gets bolstered safety equipment with six airbags as standard now, along with ESP and hill start assist. There was no mention of the new Swift getting additional reinforcement to the chassis to improve crash safety at the press, however, it is worth noting that the Japan-spec Swift gets a 4-star JNCAP rating. We will only have clarity on this new Swift’s crash ratings once it undergoes the BNCAP crash ratings.

2024 Maruti Suzuki Swift price and verdict

The Swift remains a compact, comfortable, practical car that is easy to drive and should appeal to a wide spread of buyers, much like the car that it replaces. The engine does change its character slightly, making it more vocal. Honestly though, without the hybrid drivetrain that this engine is capable of accepting, there are no upsides to the engine being changed, save for the slight increase in fuel economy. That said, the fun-to-drive nature of the chassis remains intact. I just wish it had a little more power to exploit that chassis better. The new Swift doesn’t break any new ground compared to the last car, and that is something we’ve come to expect from new generations of the Swift. Regardless, you can expect it to continue setting sales charts on fire — the old car was selling close to 15,000 units a month before it discontinued, at the end of its lifecycle, no less. There’s no reason why this Swift won’t pick up where that one left off. Prices start from ₹6.49 lakh and go up to ₹9.64 lakh, making this a great value proposition for someone looking for a simple, practical, no-fuss hatchback.

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