Suzuki delivers 1-2 B-segment punch

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Text and photos by Kap Maceda Aguila

DESPITE a predilection for the SUV/crossover format, Filipinos undoubtedly remain enamored with the small-car (or B-segment) category — hard to beat in affordability, frugality and ease of use.

Suzuki Philippines (SPH) on June 27 floated these value propositions anew with a double launch of the all-new, third-generation Swift hatchback and its sedan twin, the Dzire.

In a statement, SPH Vice-President and General Manager for automotive Shuzo Hoshikura said; “We are grateful for the strong support we continue to receive from the Filipino market, particularly during the first months of the year. As testament of our commitment to delivering only the best-quality products and services, we at Suzuki Philippines are more than happy to finally share with everyone the all-new Dzire and all-new Swift… equipped with the latest of our innovative [technologies].”

One of these is the Auto Gear Shift (AGS) feature in the Dzire’s top variant, the GL+AGS. The transmission reportedly “combines the fuel efficiency of a manual… [with] the convenience of an automatic.” SPH calls it an “automated manual” with an Intelligent Shift Control Actuator which takes over the clutch and shifting.

Envisioned to appeal to young professionals because of its value-for-money promise, price point, ease of use and dynamic styling, the Dzire has dropped its “Swift” prefix but betrays its affinity with the popular Suzuki badge through a shared Heartect platform (which increases underbody stiffness and improves vehicle performance through rigidity and lightness) and engine. The Dzire has also been made wider and lower for a sportier gait. The trunk, regarded in the past by some quarters as a mere token or concession so it could be called a sedan, has been engorged by a healthy 73 liters compared to the previous Swift Dzire. It also shares an improved K12M 1.2-liter, four-cylinder engine with the Swift that has been rendered more compact and fuel efficient while serving up 82 hp and 113 Nm.

The Dzire occupies a lower rung than the Swift — reflected in the pricing of its two variants, the GL MT (P638,000) and the aforementioned GL+AGS (P698,000).

Meanwhile, even if the all-new Swift has evolved, it still retains “the features that Filipinos love… strong shoulders, blacked-out A-pillars for [a look of] wrap-around windows, dynamic side-window treatment, and distinctive vertically arranged lamps.”

Over 5.3 million units of the first and second generations have been sold, and the third continues to leverage the “sporty DNA” the badge has been known for, said Suzuki chief engineer Masao Kobori in a speech. To this end, the all-new Swift is shorter and lower — assuming a more hefty appearance in aid of an athletic stance. As with the Dzire, the Swift boasts more boot space at 265 liters — 54 liters more than the previous model.

Ergonomics for occupants has also been improved. The rear passengers have 23 millimeters more vertical space and lateral space. “The front seats have been shifted 10 millimeters for the outside, creating more space between the front-seat occupants.”

While the Dzire banners an AGS transmission, the Swift’s similar K12M engine is mated to a CVT, promising smooth driving and “shock-free” gear change for improved acceleration at low speed and improved fuel economy at high velocity.

The Swift has three variants: GL MT (P755,000), GL CVT (P799,000) and GLX CVT (P899,000).