This writer lives in the motorsport world, which means I cover national car circuit racing, motorcycle racing, regional car and bike racing, rallies, off-road racing and historic car racing.
This entails much travelling, which means I fly a lot, and live in many hotels during the course of a racing season.
All of which is a privilege – hell, it certainly beats working. But, I do have one complaint.
When booking into a hotel, I always ask for a room on ground level, but that is generally not available, and I end up on the eleventh floor.
Now, on the Friday evening before a race meeting, plus the Saturday evening after, I go to dinner with my hosts. I often return late at night, and run into a problem.
The elevator will have a sign saying: “Seven People Only”. I am a law-abiding citizen, always aiming to please.
But, do you know how difficult it is, late at night, to convince six other people to board an elevator with you? The women think I wish to make unappropriate advances, and the men that I want to rob them.
So, instead of getting in trouble with the hotel management or the law, I end up climbing 11 flights of stairs. Which, at my age, takes a long time and leads to pitiful exhaustion.
I have mentioned this flaw to people and they say that the sign does not actually mean what it says.
Then, why display it in every elevator in the land? It is something I will never understand.
So, it was with trepidation that I took charge of the all-new Suzuki Swift.
Suzuki called the previous Swift a “driver-focused, honest-value and affordable car”.
This is now being replaced by an “allnew, driver-focused, honest-value and affordable car”.
To my relief, after driving the new Suzuki Swift 1.2 GL Manual for a week, I came to the conclusion that the description may be repeated, since it is entirely correct.
The new model retains Suzuki’s tried and tested four-cylinder 1 197cc petrol engine, which produces 61 kW of power at 6 000 rpm and 113 Nm of torque at 4 2900 rpm.
The engine is mated to a five-speed manual gearbox, that conveys the grunt and twist to the front wheels.
The vehicle has disc brakes front and drums rear, with ABS and electronic brake-force distribution.
Safety equipment also includes front-occupant airbags and seat belts for rear occupants.
The car sits on 14-inch steel wheels with full plastic covers, in 165/80R14 rubber.
With the appreciation of a car’s exterior looks a subjective matter, we would not dictate how you should feel about the new Swift’s appearance, but we think it looks cute.
Witness the photographs herewith, and decide for yourself.
More easily quantifiable is the interior, where the vehicle boasts a lot of kit for a car of its size.
The Swift 1.2 GL Manual boasts a D-shaped sporty steering wheel with a tilt-adjustable column, firmly supportive seats, air conditioning, front and rear electric windows, power steering, plus remote central locking.
In addition, Suzuki has angled the centre console towards the driver and fitted the speedometer and rev counter in separate housings.
There is also a detailed display that includes information such as fuel consumption and range, plus a security alarm and immobiliser, an audio system with Bluetooth-connectivity and USB socket, steering wheel controls for the audio system and electrically adjustable side mirrors.
The whole package weighs in at just 875kg, a huge 95kg lighter than its predecessor. Which still does not make the Swift a swift car.
One has to rev the engine without mercy to inspire reasonable acceleration, and the car would battle to maintain 120 km/h in fifth gear on the highway.
Any sort of uphill would demand a shift back to fourth gear.
On the other hand, the Swift’s most likely buyers would not be looking for tar-shredding performance, but comfort, reliability and fuel efficiency.
This Suzuki should deliver on all three fronts.
We managed a petrol consumption figure of 6.4 l/100 km, without trying to drive the vehicle in economical mode. It should go a long way on the contents of its 37-litre tank.
The car was also easy to drive and park, with its steering direct, sensitive and accurate, while its upgraded suspension yielded nuetral handling, even during spirited cornering.
In all, a good experience, and the Swift seems like good value for money at R175 000.
All Suzuki models come with a five-year/ 200 000 km mechanical warranty and a two-year/30 000 km service plan.