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December 11, 2018

Review: 2018 Suzuki Swift 1.2 GL M/T

“Simplify, then add lightness.” That was the principle that guided Colin Chapman in founding Lotus Cars. And while Chapman may have only thought of applying that thinking to exotic hand-built sportscars, there’s one commuter car that adheres to this philosophy, and because of that has come out as the best sub-compact hatchback out there: the 2018 Suzuki Swift.

The segment where the Swift finds itself in is a tightly contested one; filled with at least half a dozen choices. However, it manages to standout with its unbeatable combination of slick looks, a well-packaged interior, great dynamics, and unbeatable pricing.

Outside, the all-new Swift successfully builds on the “MINI” look of its predecessor, but with the rough edges ironed out. Compared to before, it’s now longer and wider, creating a bigger canvas from which designers could flesh out more of its styling. Moving on, Suzuki kept the overhangs in check creating a pertly vibe while still offering a lot of typically contemporary touches like the blacked-out C-pillar, floating roof design, and hidden rear door handles. What’s better is that this cutesy, fashion-friendly design still offers enough machismo that it won’t look intimidated on the road. Oh, and the biggest surprise is that this model, the base variant, offers front fog lamps, LED combination lamps, and 16-inch alloy wheels all as standard equipment.

There is one odd deletion in the Swift’s equipment list though: a rear window defogger. This probably means nothing for drivers in hot, humid weather like Metro Manila, but it could be cumbersome for drivers dealing with colder climates on a regular basis such as those in Baguio or Tagaytay.

The same proven Swift formula continues inside. Not straying far from its predecessor’s formula, the driver will have to be content navigating large expanses of black plastics; the monotony of which is broken up only by the sprinkling of white accents. But while the feel is hardly plush, at least the execution is clean and straightforward. All the controls are chunky, solid, and can be operated intuitively, while the instrument cluster is legible, dimmable, and even comes with a trip computer.

Now, if there’s one gripe with the Swift’s interior, it has to be the infotainment system. Clearly a locally-done installation, it does offer much more functionality even to this base model like Bluetooth hands-free and GPS, but at the expense of having to deal with a laggy, easily-washed out display.

The Swift isn’t class-leading in terms of interior size, but it remains a packaging miracle. The front seats are supportive and pliant, with good amounts of head- and shoulder room; while thanks to a longer wheelbase, sitting three abreast in the back is actually quite possible now. There aren’t much storage bins available, but it’ll still manage to organize stuff like loose change and smartphones. Over at the back, it’s got a more decently-sized cargo hold too. It won’t win awards for its capaciousness, but at 242 liters with the rear seats up and 546 liters with them down, it is now better suited for the daily school- or occasional grocery-run.

The Swift’s red-and-white vertically-resting gauges are one of the few whimsical design cues, but it successfully sets up for what’s in store, driving-wise. The seating position is spot on—sporty, yet comfortable. Set lower than a typical subcompact, it lends a more “connected” feeling and together with the thin A-pillars, makes it highly chuckable in city traffic. Plus, Suzuki has managed to fix its predecessor’s biggest woe which is lackluster rear visibility. The headrests now sink flush to the rear seatbacks giving an unobstructed view to the back.

Compared to its competitors, Suzuki has opted to power the Swift with a modestly-sized 1.2-liter engine. Making just 82 horsepower and 113 Nm of torque, it doesn’t have the same grunt as its larger 1.3- or 1.5-liter rivals would have. But thanks to its new HEARTECT platform, it just has 860 kilograms to pull around. Putting things into perspective, it weighs the same as the Mitsubishi Mirage—a hatchback a size smaller. Clearly, Suzuki has done Colin Chapman proud.

Whether it’s driven in the city or on the highway, the Swift never feels out of breath. There’s this cheery vibe to the engine, offering peppiness whatever the occasion. Well-suited to the engine’s character is the 5-speed manual gearbox. Admittedly, the shifter action could use more precision (and maybe another gear), but in-gear acceleration is quite good. Plus, the clutch pedal is light and the modulation, easy. And get this, despite the virtually non-stop spirted driving, the Swift returns 15.62 km/L in a mixed city/highway set-up.

The new HEARTECT platform has also allowed for a lower center of gravity and this makes the Swift feel naturally athletic. With its compact proportions, it’s one happy traffic carver and can easily squeeze into the tightest of parking space. More than just its zippiness, the suspension setup is well-balanced too, quelling a lot of road imperfections, apart from the sharpest ones. Out of the city, a bit of road and wind noise can be heard, but nothing alarming. Plus, it manages to remain zesty, with good levels of grip, precise steering, and controlled levels of roll. All in all, this small car is a riot to drive.

The sub-compact car segment isn’t the place one looks for when searching for an enthusiast’s car, but the Suzuki Swift goes against the grain. With direct steering, light weight, and great features, what’s not to like? This here is a perfect example of how much fun a small, practical hatchback can be. There may be other sub-compacts of a sporty bent too, but those are at least P 200,000 more. Even with its modest power output, it’s just bags of fun and has everything you need to get a smile back on your face during your daily commute.

2018 Suzuki Swift 1.2 GL M/T
Ownership 2018 Suzuki Swift 1.2 GL M/T
Year Introduced 2018
Vehicle Classification Sub-compact Hatchback
The Basics
Body Type 5-door Hatchback
Seating 5
Engine / Drive F/F
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 1.2
Aspiration Normally Aspirated
Fuel Delivery EFI
Layout / # of Cylinders I4
BHP @ rpm 82 @ 6,000
Nm @ rpm 113 @ 4,200
Fuel / Min. Octane Gasoline / 91~
Transmission 5 MT
Cruise Control No
Fuel Economy @ Ave. Speed 15.62 km/L @ 22 km/h
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 3,840
Width (mm) 1,735
Height (mm) 1,495
Wheelbase (mm) 2,450
Curb Weight (kg) 860
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Torsion Beam Axle
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Drum
Tires Bridgestone Ecopia EP150 185/55 R 16 V (f & r)
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 2
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes, with EBD
Traction / Stability Control No
Parking Sensors No
Other Safety Features No
Exterior Features
Headlights Halogen
Fog Lamps Yes, Front
Auto Lights No
Rain-sensing Wipers No
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjust Tilt
Steering Wheel Material Urethane
Seating Adjustment Manual
Seating Surface Fabric
Folding Rear Seat Yes, 60/40
On-Board Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes
Climate Control Manual
Audio System Stereo
# of Speakers 4
Steering Controls Yes


  1. 800k for a base hatch with a 1.2 engine is a tough pill to swallow

    1. Mitsubishi Mirage GLS is which is weaker,slower,smaller and uglier than the Swift is at 800k Pesos too.

    2. Ika nga ni Milli Vanilli, blame it on the TRAIN.

    3. Mirage is only 688k in base trim. Honda Jazz at 850-900k makes a lot more sense than this 1.2l mini hatch

    4. Suzuki Swift whether if its GLX or GLS is miles better than the jurrasic Mirage GLX and GLS which are rated as terrible cheap car overseas..The Jazz's competitor is the Mazda2 and not the Swift..At least all variants of of Swift got proper audio system and alloy wheels while the base variant of the Jazz still uses STEEL RIMS and ancient radio.

    5. That sums up the problem with the Swift. It is priced at nearly the Jazz, Accent diesel, and other better more powerful cars but has the engine of an A-segment car. Alloy rims and radio are easily replaced aftermarket but the engine today never will. I would prefer an ancient radio over the laggy touchscreen system that Suzuki probably bought from Lazada.

  2. what i like about the swift is it is also recognize world wide. here in Japan the swift is very popular and everybody loves it for its unique design and price point. the swift has the aura of not just a simple commuter but also has the sporty character that gives a nice impression to its owner :) mine is the 2016 Gl 1.2 m/t white...

  3. Man, I really like the Swift, but I'm scared of the very low ground clearance (120mm).
    Here is where the Raize has the advantage.


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