Maruti Swift gets a mid-life update

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Changes to the engine now make the car stronger and smoother, with marginally better responses and quicker performance

The Swift is a car that transcends Maruti’s otherwise utilitarian take on the hatchback. Now Maruti has given the third-gen Swift a mid-life update. It may not look like much; the 2021 car gets only minor cosmetic changes, but what you do get is a new, more powerful and frugal engine. So what is it like?

Starting with the styling, identifying the face-lifted Swift correctly, is not easy. In fact, unless you know exactly what to look for, it is almost impossible to tell the facelift apart from the model it replaces.

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The most notable giveaway on the exterior is the updated front grille. It now features a mesh finish as against the older car’s slats and gets a slash of chrome running from one side to the other. Other than that, there are no significant changes to the outside.

The Swift can now also be bought in three two-tone finishes — white with a black roof, blue with a white top and red with a black roof. These new colour schemes certainly give the car a more upmarket look, but some of the Swift’s sporty lines do get lost with the two-tone scheme.

Maruti Swift gets a mid-life update

On the inside, the updated Swift gets new upholstery, and top-of-the-line models now get cruise control and a colour MID screen between the dials. Other changes of note include a new 2-DIN system for the mid-spec V variants. The Z trims, meanwhile, come with Maruti’s SmartPlay Studio touchscreen infotainment system — the unit was introduced on the Swift last year as part of a model year update. Besides these changes the cabin remains untouched.

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The two screens add a bit of colour to the dash, the sporty design with its circular theme still works well and the seat with its extra side support holds you in place. Space and comfort in the back is decent. That said, the C pillar-mounted door handles on the outside affect visibility and make the rear of the cabin feel a bit claustrophobic. Also, some of the plastics could have been more solidly built, and the car is missing some kit like connected tech and wireless charging. Still, overall, the cabin is a comfortable place to be.

Maruti Swift gets a mid-life update

Maruti Swift facelift ZXi+ specifications

The biggest change, however, is under the hood. Known as the DualJet, this version of the K-series engine uses two injectors for every cylinder. This gives it greater control over the fuel injection, and greater power and efficiency. Power now is up to 90hp, from 83hp, and the engine has a healthier torque curve as well. The Swift also gets idle start/stop, a first, and Maruti has improved claimed fuel economy by a massive 2kpl, to 23.2kpl.

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The first thing you notice when you fire up the engine is that it runs smoother. It is, in fact, so smooth and vibration-free, that you barely notice it running in the background. It even idles at 600rpm without the air conditioning.

It is fairly responsive and does not quite leap off the line. Tap the accelerator, and, by the time the engine has passed 1,200rpm, there is a nice tug that gets progressively stronger as the engine spins faster. Put your foot down to overtake slower traffic and again the effortless performance continues. The difference is not huge, but there clearly is more grunt at low engine speeds, and that is great when you are driving in traffic.

Maruti Swift gets a mid-life update

Performance, though not thrilling, is stronger too. Hold the accelerator down and the 2021 Swift revs till 6,400rpm, with 0-100kph now coming up in 11.67sec, making it marginally quicker than the earlier car. However, the Hyundai Grand i10 Nios Turbo and VW Polo 1.0 TSI are quicker still thanks to their turbocharged engines.

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Otherwise, the darty, agile nature of the Swift remains unchanged. Light and easy to drive at low speeds, with very little effort needed to steer the car in traffic, and the harder you drive the Swift, the nicer it gets. If only the steering offered a bit more feel at higher speeds. Even the slightly stiff low-speed ride is all but unchanged.

The Swift is engaging and fun to drive when you up the pace, and with the rise in its claimed fuel efficiency, it should be more efficient in the real world too. What makes it more appealing is the fact that it is comfortable on the inside and has a practical boot.

It may not be quite as well equipped as rivals, there is no diesel in the range, and this new one is priced between ₹5.73-8.41 lakh — which makes it around ₹ 15,000 to 25,000 more expensive. Still, there is no denying the new Swift exerts an extremely strong pull, and a lot of that has to do with the fact that it is one Maruti that is both practical and fun.

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