Take that, Toyota: Suzuki New Zealand guns for eco-glory with new Swift hybrid
Search Driven for Suzuki for sale
We’ve heard plenty about Toyota’s forthcoming new-generation Yaris, due in NZ in August – especially the addition of a super-thrifty petrol-electric powertrain option. It’s set to be one of the country’s least expensive hybrids.
“One of”, but not the champ of cheap hybrid motoring. Because Suzuki NZ has just slipped a hybrid version of its ever-popular Swift onto the market. It’s now NZ’s cheapest new petrol-electric model, undercutting the new Yaris hybrid by at least $1490.
It’s going to be all fun and frenemies, says Gary Collins, Suzuki NZ general manager of marketing: “The timing of the Swift hybrid coincides with that of the Yaris. Both will have extensive advertising to build awareness and there’s sure to be considerable public interest in the two.”
Collins acknowledges that the official fuel economy figures from Yaris are still superior to Swift: 3.3l/100km for the Toyota compared with 4.1l/100km for the Suzuki. But he points out that Yaris is up to 160kg heavier, more expensive and not as well equipped.
“Our GLX hybrid is $1490 under the Yaris GX hybrid. On paper Yaris offers lower fuel consumption… but Swift offers more specification for the dollar. Swift GLX has basically the same safety specification as the Yaris GX, but for another $500 the Swift LTD adds blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert and rear parking sensors.
“In fact our [$28,500] LTD is very similar in specification to the Yaris ZR at a whopping $32,990”.
Whopping? In case you hadn’t worked it out by now, Suzuki NZ is raring to go with the Swift hybrid, which it reckons could account for 30 per cent of Swift sales in its two incarnations: the $26,500 GLX and $28,500 LTD.
Hybrid technology is new to Suzuki NZ, although not new to the brand: it has offered petrol-electric models in other markets for years and you’ll find plenty of used-import Ignis and Swift hybrids here.
But this one is a real step up, says Suzuki. Launched in Europe just two weeks ago, the latest SVHS (that’s Smart Hybrid Vehicle System) has a more powerful and efficient lithium-ion battery and has just become available with a CVT gearbox; previous international Swift models have been either manual or dual-clutch.
This is a mild hybrid, meaning the electric system assists the petrol engine: it can’t drive on battery alone, neither will it “sail” with the engine off at cruising speeds (although it will coast to a standstill below 15km/h).
But it’s still good for a 15 per cent improvement in fuel economy says Suzuki, its 4.1l/100km bettering the 4.8l of the conventional Swift GL CVT.
The SHVS has a belt-driven Integrated Starter Generator (ISG). It acts as the starter motor, powers the electrical systems at cruising speeds to reduce fuel use and recovers energy normally lost during braking and deceleration to recharge the battery.
The 1.2-litre DualJet petrol engine is also new and unique to the hybrid – despite being similar capacity to the powerplant in the entry-level Swift GL.
With 61kW/107Nm the new engine is down on power compared with the conventional GL’s 66kW/120Nm, but peak torque is delivered at 2800rpm instead of 4400rpm and those figures don’t include the 50Nm boost provided by the hybrid’s electric system. Suzuki doesn’t quote a combined figure because the extra torque changes depending on the driving conditions.
It’s a high-compression engine, so it requires 95-octane fuel minimum.
The Kiwi Swift hybrid is a European-specification model (but still sourced from Japan), identifiable by an extra chrome garnish on the grille and a small “hybrid” badge on the hatch.
That Euro status means a few specification quirks. The indicators are on the left-hand side, there’s a rear foglamp, the front passenger airbag can be deactivated with the key, the rear windows are manual wind-up (remember those?) and there’s no integrated sat-nav as standard – but Apple carPlay and Android Auto connectivity is provided.
With the arrival of the GLX hybrid, Suzuki NZ has dropped the conventional GLX. So that means the Swift range now opens with the GL 1.2 manual at $19,990 (CVT an extra $2000), stepping up to the 1.0 turbo RS at $25,990 and then into the hybrid models: $25,990 for the GLX and $28,500 for the LTD.
The Swift Sport remains the hero model, ranging from $29,990 for the manual to $31,500 for the two-tone automatic.
Extra safety kit on the LTD includes dual sensor brake support, lane departure warning and prevention, weaving alert, blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert and rear parking sensors.
The hybrid also brings tyre pressure monitoring to the Swift range for the first time.
The Swift remains the most popular supermini by far in NZ: it outsells the second-placed Kia Rio three-to-one and the outgoing Yaris nearly four-to-one. Although Toyota NZ might have something to say about that when the all-new model arrives in August.