New Swift and a ‘love:hate’ relationship
For the sake of anonymity and avoiding a clip around the ear, let’s call the good lady ‘Lisbeth’. Several years earlier, I had advised her into the Skoda brand. It was right for her at the time. Her ancient Ford Escort XR3i was worth tuppence but Skoda allowed her £1,000 against a new Felicia 1.6i. She was delighted. She was driving a first-generation VW-derived Skoda and its branding worried her not a jot.
After a series of Skoda oddities that culminated in the aforementioned Yeti model, which was now five years old and showed serious signs of ageing, as it needed new tyres again (for which it seemed to have a rapacity), as well as a growing raft of mechanical issues, I recommended Suzuki to her. However, it was based on a simple but effective paper exercise, discerning her motoring needs aligned with cost expectations.
We visited the dealership and she selected a Vitara immediately, the comparison with her Yeti and its SUV premise being obvious. However, she had become accustomed to spending less than £200/month on her Yeti’s finance. An extra £75/month was a cross she did not want to bear, especially as housekeeping duties do not provide a massive weekly income. We returned to her home to discuss the situation, which was now monetarily-based.
Having priced-up a Swift SZ5 (stripe bedecked and in the showroom), which could be hers for a whisker over £180/month, we assessed the ‘needs’. With both of her children at universities and no need to transport them and their friends in ‘mum’s taxi’ at weekends, she truly did not require the space on offer in either Yeti, or Vitara. She agreed that the blue Swift 1.0t was a sensible decision. We went back to the showroom, where she tested the car and decided to sign the order form. The car would be hers in two days’ time. She was ecstatic.
Having received considerably more for the Yeti than it was worth, her unreliability problems were eradicated and she commenced an initial love affair with her Swift. Within a fortnight, she admitted that she missed the higher ride height of her ragged old Skoda. She was obtaining 48mpg with the Swift, which tempered her view. However, she could not comprehend the small information display between the main instruments ahead of her. I spent a Saturday morning tutoring her in how to obtain the best from it.
She started to return 53mpg from the car. However, she missed the heated front seats of her former Yeti. I did explain that, as they were leather, they needed heating! The hug-in cloth seats of the Swift were significantly more comfortable and supportive. Yet, she missed the electric glass roof of the Yeti. I explained the better comfort of Suzuki’s air-con system in an attempt to placate her. Yet, every time she telephoned me from the car, I could hear the close-proximity buzzer sounding a warning in the background, which annoyed her, as the Yeti did not have such a warning system. I spent a day showing her how to keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front.
Just over a year later, Lisbeth is finally seeing the sense of Swift ownership. It is not eating her out of house and home; it is around 40% cheaper to run than the Yeti and it is much quicker overall, while not lacking in cabin space, when she enjoys her ladies’ nights out.
Luscombe’s summary: Changing models demands some give and take. Moving from an old and rattling Yeti to a cool and svelte Swift is a typical transition undertaken by many owners. Familiarity soon breeds and satisfaction levels hit different peaks.
Next week: Iain tests the latest Vitara 1.0-litre automatic
Suzuki reveals what lies in the ‘blind spot’
Both passive and active safety enhancements are now very much part of Suzuki’s generous equipment tally, highlights Iain Robertson, although one of the addenda, known as BLIS, is fitted to the ever-popular Vitara model only, for the moment.
We have all been in that awful situation in town driving, from time to time, when an errant cyclist, whether powered, or not, tries to zip up your outside, to take advantage of its relatively narrow construct. It needs to be stated that the inside can also be a major attraction.
Of course, it usually occurs in traffic snarl-ups, when the driver’s eyes are occupied with the close proximity of the vehicle ahead, as well as those often all-around. Were we blessed with eyes in the backs of our heads, our cause might still not be helped very much. The problem is exacerbated by the quicksilver approach and opportunism exercised by the riders of bicycles and motorbikes. No. I am not about to have an anti-two-wheels rant but, let’s be frank, they too ought to exercise a little bit of circumspection, rather than riding blindly into gaps, purely because they can.
The first car ever to feature three-point safety belts was Volvo. It ‘gifted’ the technology to the world’s motor industry. Volvo was also the first car in the world to feature BLIS, which stands for Blind Spot Information System. While Suzuki motorcars are blessed with narrow roof pillars and excellent outward visibility from the driver’s seat, there are still blind-spots located around the cars, which even the most agile observers will experience on occasion.
The monitoring system, which is built into a series of sensors on the Vitara’s flanks, flags up a warning of items in those blind spots, via an audible sound and a visible amber flash in the door mirror. It is enough to make the driver look, where he may not have looked before. While it is of significant benefit in built-up and traffic-dense zones, it is a system that may also stop a driver, or front passenger, from opening a car door directly into the traffic flow.
However, it can also be useful when travelling at motorway speeds, where the consequences of not noticing what is happening alongside your vehicle might be crucial. Although the BLIS is part of Vitara’s extensive equipment list, it is inevitable that S-Cross and Swift models will adopt it in due course.
Luscombe’s summary: A value brand, like Suzuki, might not be expected to equip its new models with safety features, yet all of the latest Suzuki models feature a comprehensive suite of them. BLIS is the latest and it is only a matter of time before all Suzukis will feature it and its incident reducing qualities.
Next week: Suzuki iM-4 and iK-2, turning concepts to reality
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