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We sat down for a chat with the Managing Officer and Executive Group Manager of Suzuki to find out more about the new Swift, and also what's next for the brand.

01 Aug 2018


The Suzuki Swift made its re-entry into Singapore after the model's brief absence from our market, at Champion Motor's new Suzuki showroom located at 10 Chang Charn Road last week.

Kinji Saito was on hand to answer all our questions related to Suzuki and the Swift
At the launch, we had a chat with Kinji Saito, Managing Officer, Executive General Manager of Global Automobile Marketing, Suzuki Motor Corporation.

Also on hand to answer our questions was Samuel Yong, Marketing Director of Champion Motors; and Yukine June Lee, General Manager, Champion Motors; who explained more about Suzuki's latest compact city hatch.

Lower costs, higher offerings

Samuel explains that due to road taxes, which are tiered according to engine capacities of cars in Singapore, the turbocharged 1.0-litre, three-cylinder engine (what Suzuki calls Boosterjet) of the new Swift makes absolute sense.

"Not only does it lower the running costs but it also offers adequate performance for both day-to-day and more spirited driving," he says.

Saito-san explains that the new 1.0-litre Boosterjet in the Swift makes it fun to drive and also great value for money
According to Saito-san, who has spent a lot of time behind the wheel of the new Swift, it's not easy to create a car that's not only fun to drive but also great value for money but this little Suzuki does just that.

He acknowledges that the previous generation model wasn't as well received in Singapore as they hoped due to high COE prices but is certain this new one will change the game.

"Singapore is a very important market to us. We want the Swift to be part of the Singapore scenery. A fun and exciting car like the Swift will stand out amongst the ordinary cars on the road, and we'd like travellers to this country to notice our cars here, too," Saito-san said.

But for car buyers who prefer that scenery a little greener, there are sadly no plans to bring in the Swift Hybrid officially. That's a little unfortunate as the Hybrid variant is a rather interesting model.

Yukine June Lee and Samuel Yong from Champion Motors were also on hand to answer our questions
The Swift Hybrid uses an automated-manual transmission, which Suzuki calls Auto Gear Shift (AGS). Such transmissions are generally more fun to drive, and actually perform better in terms of fuel economy.

However, such a transmission option is rarely, if ever, found in hybrid powertrains, as hybrids usually employ Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) or traditional torque converter automatics. Saito-san says that the AGS transmission is unique as it takes a very short time for it to change gears and is very smooth, similar to a CVT, but offers better fuel economy as the gearbox doesn't slip.

While Champion Motors isn't intending to add the Hybrid to the lineup, it will be offering a hotter version of the Swift, which everyone's been eagerly anticipating - the Swift Sport.

The Swift Sport is powered by a larger 1.4-litre K14C Boosterjet engine that makes 140bhp and 230Nm of torque. No official launch dates have been confirmed yet.

Saito-san enjoyed his time driving the new Suzuki Swift Sport, equipped with a six-speed manual
Samuel would only confirm that Champion Motors is still in discussion with Suzuki Motor Corporation. "It is a very exciting product and a lot of customers are asking for it," he comments.

Saito-san commented on his experience driving the Swift Sport, "I drove it with the six-speed manual during the Golden week in Japan. I haven't driven a manual in a long time, but it took a very short time to get accustomed to it. After that, I enjoyed the drive so much!"

The demand for the Swift Sport is not just in Singapore, but also around the world. In fact, Saito-san himself ordered one in Japan, and he's still on the waiting list, highlighting the model's overwhelming popularity.

"I ordered one for myself at the end of June, but they said delivery at the earliest is September, maybe even October," he sighs. Speaking a little more enthusiastically about his new car, he jokes, "I wanted yellow, but my wife disagreed. So, I went for a conservative colour - silver."

While ecstatic about his personal Swift Sport arriving in a few months, Saito-san feels there is no direct competitor to the Swift
So the Swifts would go head-on with the Honda Jazz and sportier Jazz RS?

Naturally, buyers considering a car of this size would compare the Swift against the equally popular Honda Jazz. Saito-san, however, feels that direct comparison would be unjust as both models are pretty different in nature, especially in their home country.

Interestingly even the Swift in Japan, and the Swift sold by Champion Motors, is different.

"In Japanese specification, the width of the Swift is limited to 1,695mm, due to taxation on car size, but officially imported models like the Swift here at Champion Motors is 40mm wider. It is an advantage for people to buy an officially imported Swift, as the exterior impressions is different, if a size comparison is what you have in mind," he says.

And if you crave for something else that is a little more unique in nature, that's not all Champion Motors has in store

Saito-san was tight-lipped on when the Jimny will come to our shores
The Swift may be Suzuki's latest offering in Singapore and we're still awaiting the Swift Sport, but elsewhere around the world, it's the Jimny that has currently been making waves.

Saito-san was, however, tight-lipped on the topic, "For the Jimny, I can't say," he said with a cheeky smile.

At the same time, during the Singapore Motor Show last year, the Ignis was showcased. We asked about the status on whether the Ignis will make its way here.

Yukine commented, "The Ignis raised some interest when we brought it to the Motor Show. We are in discussion with Suzuki Motor Corporation to look into this product as we've had lots on enquiries on it."

"We will definitely add more models to our lineup and challenge ourselves for 1% market share," she concluded.
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