There have been many changes in the modern history of the automobile manual transmission: Starting with three on the tree, then four on the floor, followed by five, and finally today’s six.

While the last mentioned is de rigueur in today’s vehicles, there is one vehicle that, for one reason or another, has taken a step back in time with a five-speed manual gearbox. The Series II Suzuki Swift gets under way with the GL 1.2 Navigator five-speed manual.

With up to $2000 in added features, including advanced safety technology, the recently released Series II of the popular Japanese hatchback represents outstanding value for money at $18,990, plus on-road costs, for the entry-level Swift GL Navigator manual.

The GL Navigator manual and automatic, GL Navigator Plus, and GLX Turbo automatic continues the three-model line-up. Two engines are fitted, either a 1.2-litre four-cylinder in the ‘Navis’, or a 1.0-litre, three-cylinder turbocharged unit in the GLX.

Standard features across the board include blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, heated door mirrors and reverse parking sensors, while other new additions include digital speedometer and auto-up windows. Rear speakers, already standard in the GLX Turbo, have been added to the GL Navigator variants.

The new Swift Series II comes with a comprehensive five-year unlimited kilometre factory warranty, plus Suzuki’s capped price service program of 12-month / 15,000 km service intervals for GL Navigator variants and 12-month / 10,000 km service intervals for the GLX Turbo.
Exterior design changes include a newly engineered front bumper and grille, and new design 16-inch alloy wheels with low rolling resistance in keeping with its sporty nature.

LED daytime running lights and front fog lamps emphasise the warm-hatch look, while rear door handles ‘hidden’ in the C-pillar again follow the modern design trend without taking anything away for the Swift character.

The Swift Series II colour line-up remains the same, except for the two-tone grey which has been replaced with a single grey tone.

A flat-bottom steering wheel, which is adjustable for tilt and reach in GLX only, gives the driver the sense of being in a premium sports machine such as an Audi TT, or Mercedes-Benz SL.

The Swift has 242 litres of luggage space, 32 litres more than the previous model. The area has been optimised to carry a wide range of cargo, made easy to load by a high-lift tailgate.

A 7-inch four-zone touch screen, situated at driver’s eye level on the central dashboard, enables easy access to audio and video playback and hands-free phone and navigation.

Thanks to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the driver can also connect a smartphone. New to the Swift are digital speedometer and four-speaker sound system.

The GL Navigator and GL Navigator Plus are powered by a 66 kW / 120 Nm 1.2-litre four-cylinder motor. Both are available with automatic CVT transmission, but a five-speed manual gearbox is also available in the base GL Navigator.

The entry-level Swift earns a five-star safety rating at 2017 standards. Included are six airbags, standard across the Swift range, active safety takes in electronic stability control, ABS anti-skid braking with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist.

While we are used to the close ratios of the latest slick shifting six-speed manual transmissions of today, the Swift Navigator manual’s five-cogger is no slouch, but leaves something – a sixth gear – to be desired as the revs mount.

With peak power of 66 kW, the 1.2 litre four-cylinder motor is a tad raspy at high revs and the cabin comes in for intrusive road noise on course surfaces.

Petrol consumption on test showed little difference with driving conditions, averaging 5.0 litres per 100 kilometres in city and suburbs, and 4.2 litres per 100 kilometres at motorway speeds.

Engineers looked to Europe for Swift nimbleness and agility from a the carried-over platform and suspension. For example, a new underbody contributes to lower fuel consumption and better performance in terms of acceleration, turning and stopping.

Steering is sharp with a light and highly rigid suspension and is able to follow contours in the road but does pick up bumps and share them equally among all occupants.

Large glassed areas all round make for a bright interior, wide views for passengers and the expansive rear window fills the whole of the interior rear-view mirror giving the driver, together with reversing camera, a safe indication of what’s behind.

Horses for courses: the Suzuki Swift Series II now comes in a Melbourne Cup field of options with something to suit most driving styles. The entry-level GL 1.2 Navigator manual is value for money.

Suzuki Swift GL 1.2 Navigator manual $18,990
Suzuki Swift GL 1.2 Navigator automatic $19,990
Suzuki Swift GL 1.2 Navigator Plus automatic $21,490
Suzuki Swift GLX 1.0 Turbo automatic $25,290
Suzuki Swift Sport 1.4 Turbo manual $29,990
Suzuki Swift Sport 1.4 Turbo automatic $31,990
Metallic paint $595
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Suzuki dealer for drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (Suzuki Swift GL 1.2L Navigator 4-cylinder petrol, 5sp manual hatchback)

Capacity: 1.198 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders
Maximum Power: 66 kW
Maximum Torque: 120 Nm
Fuel Type: Petrol 91 RON
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 4.6 L/100km

DRIVELINE: Five-speed manual

Length: 3840 mm
Wheelbase: 2450 mm
Width: 1735 mm
Height: 1495 mm
Turning Circle: 9.6 metres
Kerb Mass: 915 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 37 litres

Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Solid disc

Five years / unlimited kilometres

About Derek Ogden

On graduating with an honours degree in applied science in London, Derek Ogden worked for the BBC in local radio and several British newspapers as a production journalist and writer. Derek moved to Australia in 1975 and worked as a sub-editor with The Courier Mail and Sunday Mail in Brisbane, moving to the Gold Coast Bulletin in 1980 where he continued as a production journalist. He was the paper's motoring editor for more than 20 years, taking the weekly section from a few pages at the back of the book to a full-colour liftout of up to 36 pages. He left the publication in 2009.
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