By: Jason Woosey
Importing cars from India makes a lot of sense from a cost point of view - given that it's an affordable destination to build cars and one that has also experienced a currency hammering of late.
In fact, many of South Africa's most affordable cars - including the Ford Figo, Honda Brio and Toyota Etios - are sourced from this part of the world.
Now Suzuki South Africa is set to take full advantage of its Indian partner, Maruti Suzuki, with a more affordable version of its Swift hatchback and a sedan variant (called DZire). This four-door is new to our shores and offers the convenience of a 300-litre boot.
Previously the entry price for the Swift range was R186 900 for the 1.4 GLS model and while this Japanese-sourced hatchback continues to be offered along with the 1.6 Sport, the new Indian-sourced 1.2-litre models start at just R126 900 for the hatch and R128 900 for the DZire sedan. This puts them straight into the baby brawl contested by the likes of Figo, Etios and Polo Vivo.
Granted, the idea of a 1.2-litre K12 engine hardly sounds like a recipe for performance. Yet its power output of 63kW at 6000rpm actually trumps the 1.4-litre Figo and Polo Vivo, although the Suzuki's maximum torque of 113Nm at 4500rpm does fall a little short of rivals. The little 16-valve motor also boasts variable valve timing to optimize the spread of power and torque across the rev range.
Naturally there's an economic advantage here too, with Suzuki claiming combined consumption of 5.7 l/100km for manual models and 6.3 l/100km for automatics. An autobox, however, is only available (optionally) on the higher-spec version.
On that note, the Swift 1.2 hatch and DZire sedan versions are available in either GA or GL guise.
The entry-level GA is fitted, as standard, with air conditioning as well as dual airbags and four-speakers, although the sound system will be an extra-cost option.
The 1.2 GL adds a CD/USB/Aux sound system, linked to steering wheel controls, as well as electric windows and mirrors, remote central locking and ABS brakes.
It also adds style in the form of upgraded seat fabric and various metallic accents in the cabin, while the exterior is jazzed up with blacked-out A and B-pillars, front fog lights and colour coding for the mirrors and door handles.
Both grades have a slightly higher ride height than regular Swifts, along with 14-inch steel wheels shod in high-profile rubber - just perfect for South African and Indian roads alike.
Another standard feature that will resonate with local buyers is the two-year/30 000km service plan. A standard three-year/100 000km warranty is also part of the package.
Would you consider this modern hatch and sedan range as an alternative to the popular contenders in this segment?
1.2 GA - R126 900
1.2 GL - R136 900
1.2 GL AT - R151 900
1.2 GA - R128 900
1.2 GL - R138 900
1.2 GL AT - R153 900