Cheap thrills: Maruti Suzuki Swift - Swift, tailor-made!


Why a Swift?

If you truly enjoy driving, are on a budget and want something that’s a bit more contemporary and not yet another Ford Ikon or first-gen Honda City, then the Swift is the perfect choice. Lightweight, peppy and with very good handling, the Swift has morphed itself into the kind of car that suits those with a penchant for driving. But it’s just as good at keeping those who use their car as a commuting tool happy. This premium B-segment hatch is the virtual ruler in this segment and for good reasons too. Apart from its FTD factor, it’s also efficient and you don’t need to rob a bank to run and maintain one.

Which version should I go for?

The Swift, when it was launched in 2005, was only offered in petrol guise and in three trims, LXi, VXi and ZXi, the latter with bells and whistles like airbags, ABS, steering-mounted audio controls and automatic climate control to name a few. The motor was a G-Series 1.3-litre, four-potter that had done sterling duty in the Esteem and Gypsy for over a decade.

In 2007, that changed with the addition of the 1.3-litre, DDiS diesel which came with just the LDi and VDi trims. This was quickly followed by a light update, that included clear-lens headlamps and tail-lamps. A further update occurred in 2010 when the 1.3-litre petrol was swapped for a smaller, more efficient 1.2-litre K-Series motor. Of the lot, the 1.3-litre petrol is more torquey than the 1.2. The latter is hard to find since it was in production only for a year. The diesel is torquey, efficient and good fun to drive, despite producing just 75 bhp. It’s easy to find VXi and VDi trims of both the petrol and diesel, which is what we recommend.

How much should I pay for one?

Swifts go for decent money and tend to hold value better than contemporaries of its time like the Hyundai Getz or the Chevrolet Aveo U-VA. Also, it’s easy to find all kinds of Swifts – abused, reasonably maintained and well-maintained ones, so take your time and scour the market before zeroing in on one – there are plenty to choose from. Cars start at Rs 1.75 lakh for the LXi trim of 2005-06 vintage with a lot of kilometres on the clock, while later models can be had for Rs 3.5 to 4 lakh for ZXi trim, going only as far as 2010-11. Diesels can go for Rs 3 lakh and upwards for cars from 2007 onwards and it isn’t unusual to find some cars being traded for Rs 5.5 lakh for the last of the VDi trim versions. Your best option is to go for a 2007-08 petrol for about Rs 2.75-3 lakh with 40,000-50,000 km on the clock; go in for a 2008/early 2009 diesel for Rs 4 to 4.5 lakh.

What to look out for

Swifts come in all sorts of states, so stick to ones that are lightly abused. Heavily abused ones could have suspension jobs and brake jobs that need to be done, which may not be too expensive, but why bother when you can find better examples anyway? Early cars had creaking sounds from the B-pillar which were later resolved by service stations and were diagnosed to poor quality spot-welds. Bumpers can come off their clippings rather easily in case of minor bumps and need nothing more than a whack to put them into place. Squeaks and rattles are common, so identify them and have the seller resolve them if possible. On petrols, clutches tend to wear out quickly, especially in stop-go conditions. Have it checked before picking one up.