Euro styling in an Asian package. It seems to be all the rage these days. Think back to when Peter Schreyer made the move from Audi to Kia in the mid-2000s, ushering in a new era for the Korean brand. All of a sudden, the once-drab Korean cars started to look more and more appealing on showroom floors.
That was the dilemma for the longest time, wasn’t it? You either had to choose a mundane car for its impressive fuel economy, or you opted for a head-turner that forced your wallet to adopt the tiis ganda mindset. What Schreyer has done for Kia is live up to the idea that you can have a practical car with decent looks to match.
It’s a strategy that has made its way into some Japanese brands as well. Take the Suzuki Swift, for example. The Swift has a muddled history, beginning life in the early '00s as a replacement for the Cultus, though that car had been sold as the Swift in certain regions since the ‘80s. What is certain is that the one we’ve seen on our roads for the past few years debuted in 2010. It had a fairly decent run, but it wasn’t nearly as popular as its other compact rivals.
The fourth-generation Swift, meanwhile, was launched quite some time ago, making its Japanese debut in late 2016. We first saw it in the metal at this year’s Bangkok Motor Show, and now it’s finally here in the Philippines. At first glance, you’d think that the engineers at Suzuki took inspiration from other leading models and added it to their own package.
The new Swift’s visage looks similar to before, but if you look at it from the front, you’ll notice that the old one’s boxy shape has given way to a curvier design that’s much more elegant and, dare we say, more European.
The header starts off narrow, and continues at a slight angle to the belt line, before curving outwards down until the well-defined character line and beefy haunches. Up front, it’s got modern swept-back headlights like before, only this time thinner and laden with LED. Those sit next to a small honeycomb grille and above black fog light housings. That front fascia actually looks a lot like the Jaguar F-Type. In the back, this C-Pillar’s design echoes the Nissan Juke, complete with hidden door handles.
In the rear, you get squarish taillights (also with LED) and a rather small backlight. The cabin was designed with equal attention to detail, with a circular theme running along the gauges, as well as the air-con vents and controls.
Speaking of the air-con knobs, the center circle is actually a small digital display for the temperature and fan speed. Stylish looks? Check.
The flat-bottomed steering wheel is wrapped in soft material, and features three neat sets of control buttons. The fabric seats are fairly well-bolstered, and there’s plenty of room inside. Cabin noise is a bit of an issue though, especially with the engine.
And speaking of, the Philippine-spec Swift is powered by a 1.2-liter gasoline. While we don’t have the exact power and torque figures at the time of writing, it’s safe to assume that they'll be in the ballpark of the 83hp and 108Nm offered in Thailand.
On paper, it’s an economic powertrain, and in reality, it has ample power to ferry around a full load on flat city roads. The steering has a healthy weight to it, and it self-centers with ease. Economy and ease of use? Check.
Amidst the palm trees and model homes of South Forbes Miami where our shoot took place, the Swift’s striking red paint job looked right at home dashing along the suburban streets. And by our estimation, that's exactly the kind of setting you're likely to find one.
With prices starting at P755,000, it’s a lot cheaper than the rival Honda Jazz, which sells for a minimum of P847,000. Granted, the Swift offers less power for the price, but it arguably makes up for it with a solid combination of style and practicality. Tiis ganda, not required.
For its next trick, we hope Suzuki Philippines brings in the Swift Sport in the near future. The non-turbo version is fine for everyday use, granted, but given the increasing dearth of hot hatches in the country, we wouldn't mind seeing the Sport on local streets.