Rainbows have a magical awe about them. In Roman/Greek mythology Iris (a messenger of the gods) is the God of the Rainbow, In Indonesia a Rainbow is a bridge used by soul boats, Christians think it represents Christ’s throne, the Arabs think it’s a giant Bow and lastly my favorite – The Irish believe that Leprechauns bury gold where their end meets the earth.
But whatever your belief, (fact or fiction) They sparkle and brighten up a dull and rainy day and people young and old love them. So it was rather fitting that Suzuki took us to Rainbows End Fun Park to launch their new (gen 3) Swift – especially as they are part of the theme park too (I’ll get to that soon).
Regardless of its size, since it burst onto NZ roads in 2005 the Suzuki Swift has been a monster of small car success. Leading the sales tables and capturing the hearts and spirits of the Kiwi motorist, the Swift has received a couple facelifts and a second generation change, so what’s in store for the new generation?
It would appear that there’s been no laurel resting as far as the new Swift is concerned. Suzuki have redesigned (well sort of) the exterior, improved the safety, increased the connectivity and re-engineered the car from the ground up – starting with the chassis. With their ‘Heartect’ platform approach, and a fair amount of very clever/strong steel, they have managed to shave 30kg’s off the core weight (135kg’s overall) while increasing the car’s strength – meaning they can reduce the size of the engine and yet still achieve the same fun/spritely drive – phew.
From a powertrain point of view, (and depending on your variant option) you get the choice of a 1.2L Dualjet VVT (82kW/160Nm) or 1L Boosterjet Turbo(66kW/120Nm) engine – these offer up reported fuel efficiencies of 4.6-4.8L/100k’s and 5.1L/100k’s (respectively).
It still has a blackened ‘A’ pillar and wraparound windscreen, but it now has a ‘floating roof’, the rear door handles have been moved (giving it a two door hatch appearance) and the LED light genie has paid a visit. There’s more space in the rear too (for more junk in the trunk – so to speak).
The cabin has been more than simply fettled with too. The D-shaped steering wheel gives the driver a nod towards the sporty, the 7” Bosche infotainment screen houses Apple Carplay and Android Auto, the seats have extra padding and although the trim still has its fair share of hard plastics, it’s clutter free and very ‘stylin’.
While on the subject of style, as with many Suzuki’s nowadays, you can well and truly personalise your Swift. From wheel colour inserts and exterior bling to Dash and console changes (this can all be done at order or as and when YOU please). Go ahead make it stand out, you can even make it rainbow coloured if you wish.
The new Swift comes with a host of driver aid and safety. Advanced Forward Detection System uses lasers, camera’s and radars to keep you away from other vehicles and DSBS (Dual Sensor Brake Support) will (depending on speed and distance) keep you from collision. Apparently, the Suzuki parts department raised concerns about the DSBS, claiming that they would probably need to stock less front bumpers BUT were consoled with the fact that with the vast array of accessories and personalization items (plus maybe a stockpile of rear bumpers – think about it). I don’t think they’ll be idle anytime soon, that’s for sure.
With the briefing concluded it was time to hit the road BUT not before heading into Rainbows end to check out one of the attractions. Taking pride of place (almost immediately upon entry) is the AA kids driving school. It’s a place for youngsters to get behind the wheel of a car and navigate around the streets of a small town. With a mix of traffic signals and a roundabout, the town may not be that familiar but the car certainly is – a pint-sized electric, Suzuki Swift. We watched the kids drive for a while (some had better skills than others – one, in particular, should have been flagged as a public nuisance) before it was our turn – on the real road, not the ride.
More by luck than judgement I grabbed the keys to the RS, it was the one I wanted to play with. Paddle shift, sporty trim, added decals and that Boosterjet engine. The drive route took us out to Maraitai beach and past some quite amazing houses. I mention this as (a) they are quite immense and (b) even around some of the tight bends in the area, the Swift’s ride offers you confidence enough to enjoy both the drive and the scenery around. It wasn’t an overly taxing drive however with a few sprints and hard(ish) cornering, it did give us a taste of what this car is capable of – and it’s quite a lot. The return drive back to the theme park was a little more subdued but gave us time to poke a few of the connectivity buttons, they are easy to work around.
Science would have you believe that a rainbow with its colours of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet is light refracted in raindrops and reflected back to the observer. To see a rainbow the sun must be behind the observer and it must be raining in front of the observer. (this all sounds very serious). I would say that there is far more fun to be had with a myth and a fun park combination – this and all the colours (Prime burning red, Metallic Speedy Blue, Pure White Pearl, Premium Silver, Metallic Mineral Grey and Super black pearl) of a Swift.
The New Swift is smaller, lighter and faster than before. It retains its playful approach to driving, by being easy to drive and yet confident on the road. Its pocket size stance ensures city navigation is a breeze and has enough presence to ensure longer drives are not a chore. It would appear that in the new Swift, Suzuki have simply taken something great and made it better – so in essence, even in the absence of Leprechauns, we found a nugget of gold at the Rainbow’s end.