New Car/Review

Suzuki

Suzuki Swift GL (2001)

SEE ALSO: Suzuki Buyer's Guide

by Brendan Hagin and Mikele Schappell-Hagin

SPECIFICATIONS

     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 10,949
     Price As Tested                                    $ 11,379
     Engine Type              SOHC 16-valve 1.3 Liter I4 w/SMFI*
     Engine Size                                  79 cid/1295 cc
     Horsepower                                    79 @ 6000 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                                75 @ 3000 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                   93.1"/62.6"/149.4"
     Transmission                          Three-speed automatic
     Curb Weight                                     2170 pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  10.3 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                          P155/80R13 all-season
     Brakes (F/R)                                     Disc /drum
     Drive Train                  Front-engine/front-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                      Four-passenger/three-door
     Domestic Content                                 50 percent
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                               N/A

PERFORMANCE

     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            30/34/32
     0-60 MPH                                       14.0 seconds
     1/4 (E.T.)                                  20.5 @ 71.0 mph
     Top-speed                                            95 mph
                 * Sequential multi-port fuel injection

BRENDAN - In today's automotive market, some cars are made for cruising, while others are made for commuting. The new 2001 Suzuki Swift definitely falls into the latter category, but for an ultra-sub compact, it felt solid enough to cruise around on roads other than city streets. At just over $11,000, the Swift GL we had is a three-door hatchback that is inexpensive enough to be a second or even a third car for the family but I was pleasantly surprised to find that it didn't feel "cheap." The Swift comes in a base GA model and the upscale GL version like the one we tested. While none of the Suzuki models will win any dragstrip competitions, its spritely little 79 cubic inch, 79 horsepower engine is up to the daily grind of highway life, and it beats walking or waiting for a bus. Our tester had the optional three-speed automatic transmission which weakens its performance but its standard five-speed manual probably would have been more peppy and more fun to drive. It's strongest performance factor is its fuel mileage at 34 mpg and with today's high fuel costs, the Swift a logical alternative to a gas-guzzling eight-cylinder SUV. Its small size is a bonus for tight parking spaces and city living. A motorcycle would be the only vehicle that might be more space-effective but the Swift gives you a shell for safety and weather protection plus the ability to carry cargo and a couple of passengers, too. It drives through the front wheels, of course, and with under 100 horsepower, torque steer under acceleration wasn't a problem.

MIKELE - I had a Chevy Sprint in college, so the similar Swift brought back memories of long trips to school in a car that rarely needed fuel and became a member of my family. Our time with the car made it feel like old times, although I've become a little spoiled by all of the high-priced luxury cars we try out on a regular basis. The little Swift handled well on winding roads, thanks to independent strut front and rear suspension and front and rear stabilizer bars.

BRENDAN - At only 79 horses, the 1.3-liter engine isn't overtaxed and it should hold up pretty well as long as it's kept up. It's all-aluminum with a single overhead camshaft and is relatively high-tech with four valves per cylinder. The interior is somewhat cramped, especially in the back seat but being a hatchback, it's neat for doing double-duty as a miniature station wagon. It has air conditioning, tinted windows, and an AM/FM cassette stereo. The reclining front bucket seats and a fold down rear back seat comes in handy as does a rear window defroster. The front center console has the prerequisite retractable cupholders and the rear cargo area has a retractable cover.

MIKELE - Integrated front and rear crumple zones make the Swift pretty safe as do its side-impact door beams and energy-absorbing steering column. Second-generation dual airbags are standard, as well as child seat tether anchors and daytime running lights, so the safety factor is covered. On the outside, the Suzuki has a basic, no frills look, as expected, with the traditional mini-car low-nose, high-tail profile. But it has full wheel covers and body-side moldings to make it gussied-up a bit. Some other exterior features on our GL were multi-reflector halogen headlamps for good night vision and intermittent wipers in case of that light rain that can't make up its mind. The Swift is about as small as you can get and still consider it a practical car for today's market.

BRENDAN - In metropolitan areas in other parts of the world like Tokyo and Hong Kong, cars the size of the Suzuki Swift are almost considered full-sized and the real mini-cars are only big enough to hold two and sometimes only a single person.

MIKELE - Although I love city life, we're lucky that we don't live in places like than. We'd have a heck of a time getting our two pups into anything much smaller than a Swift unless I left you home.

 

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