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Swift Diesel VDi Review - 5000kms and counting

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

/ by Srikanth Eswaran




It was about five months back that I was hunting around for cars to buy and tested a car from each company’s table, Genereal Motors (Chevrolet Aveo UVA), Hyundai Motors (Getz Prime), Fiat (the new palio stile), Renault (Logan Diesel) and of course yours truly Maruti Udyog (Swift Vdi).




I made a decision for going in for a Swift Diesel VDi as this was the only car which had all the elements in it - sturdiness, fuel effeciency, stability, safety and service effectiveness while keeping costs low. At Rs.5.8 lacs on the road, it seemed pretty expensive but then for the diesels this is an acceptable price to pay for a hot hatch isnt it ? Having said that and after having driving about 1200 kms every month, I managed to finish 5000 kms a couple of days back and here is the proof for the records:





So after these many kilometres which included a trip to chennai covering 700kms on two days what do I feel about this car? Lets analyse.

I ll divide this second level relook into few broad categories.

1. Handling - With my michelin energy tires and Lenso Alloys (you can see the snaps of my car by clicking here) the car remains planted on the ground at any speeds all the way upto 140kph. While with other cars I’ve had before I was able to take turns only between 50-60kph, with the swift Vdi I’m able to take turns extremely confidently at 80kph. I’m not sure how the stock tyres perform on the swift w.r.t to handling turns, but with the michelins 195 treads the car does extremely well. Going over potholes is a breeze unless the road is too uneven. With the tubeless tyres there is no worry of punctures and they do fairly well even under the wet conditions on road grip part.

2. Speeds - This is where the car really puts some of the petrol siblings to shame. the acceleration from 20-40 and 60-100 is extremely good. the 40-60 is a mid range and mostly we will be gear shifting at that time. it most effortlessly goes to 80+ without any cribs. as for the speed, I can equate it to the scorpio of hatches. If the road were to be a runway, then the Swift Vdi would be a plane taking off at full grunt. If you have taken a flight anytime you would know what I mean. Its the same adrenalin rush that the car pumps into you (the whole package included - speed, sound, grunt, thrust and the zippiness). This sudden speed variation has its drawbacks too if not used properly. It can give you stiff necks, it can jolt a co passenger without warning and can throw you forward on braking hard at that speeds. Always accelerate the car gently and decelerate well in advance before coming to a stop. Now this is how you enjoy the car. On the highways this car maintains 100kph with utmost ease and I ve tested it with 5 full grown adults and loads of small baggages with AC at level 2 for 350kms. And the car does what it is born to do - sustains the entire drive without a whimper or a whine. It pulls effortlessly the same way as during the start of the journey, even when the journey is about to end. Remember one thing - the bumper in swift is too low which means this: If you see a road hump in front of you reduce to dead slow and clear it else you’re gonna hear that infamous thud which will give you the repair jitters.

3. Braking - This is not strictly a concern for me at lower speeds, but at higher speeds does prove to be a bit of a bother. Never be assured that any car will stop the moment you slam the brakes, and swift is no exception. for normal ranging speeds to come to a stop or sudden braking on emergency the car responds quite well. But at high speeds 120/140kph panic braking is going to pump the adrenalin even more in you in anxiety whether you’ll live that moment or not. Perhaps the ABS version would be a better one to take on these kinds of situations. On wet roads and michelins, the brakes are slightly loose which only puts the onus on the owner to use them diligently and not try tricks and last minute manouvres. Remember one more thing, the brakes are power assisted as in other cars. Which means when the car is off, the brakes are not effective. Which also means you have to necessary put the car in gear and on handbrake when the car is switched off. And when you are in emergency to stop the car, pull the handbrake!!

4. NVM - Maruti has done a great job in the NVM department. Roll all the windows up, and Viola - nothing from the outside is heard. Its definitely not pindrop silence but nothing unbearable too. Its much better than many other cars. As for noise from car, a few jolts do make it into the cabin. Also the engine gets coarse after 5000km which means more engine sound into the car as well - contrary to the feeling I got when I bought this car. So the super silent engine isnt so super silent after all. The braking noise is also substantial at times especially when you take out the car in the morning. I am unable to explain this however.

5. Body Roll - for the initial few days I did not feel body roll that much. But I believe that the swift does have some body roll which does get more noticed upon addition of 195 tyres. When both the road and the car are sturdy there are frictions expected isnt it ?Passenger body roll is definitely visible and for people with back and neck problems, this only compounds the situation. The answer: on good stretches maintain sufficient speed and be smooth with the car, and on bad stretches watch the road and be slow and dont bounce the car around much. This car is not suitable for revving much and columns of black smoke are out in second gear if you revv too much only telling you the car doesnt like that attitude of yours. However if you revv at the right speed the car responds appropriately well. A sequence of 120kph-60kph-20kph-60kph-120kph isnt exactly thrilling with this car as it is in petrol cars. But thats the only bane of this car and has to be put up with since its a diesel.

6. Engine/AC - The fiat engine 1.3 multijet diesel is a gem. It sits snugly in the chassis and maruti has done a great job. The grunt of the engine, the roar at times when revving puts in prespective of being on a race track. The gear shift is a beauty once you know how to use it. Initially my whole shoulder used to ache when using the shift for a couple of months, then i changed the way I flicked it, and learnt the art of gear shifting on this beauty. now its a dream. The power steering is precise and smooth and with a Turning radius of 4.9m you could haul this car anywhere in the city. The AC is chilling to death after sometime and Maruti scores here too. The best part is that when the AC is on, there is no much loss in power as the petrol cars show, and even with 5 adults and luggage and AC on level 2, the car pulls like a dream. Good job fiat!!

7. Seating/Space - Speaking to the point, the front two seats are very roomy, and they put you in a feeling as though you are in a well oblivious of whats going on outside. This also obstructs the view from all angles and the pillars (abc) add to the bane of less or zero visibility at times. If you have tints and it rains you are at god’s mercy to understand whats standing next to you even if its an elephant! Not a thing is visible from the window side and visibility clearance is at a bare minimum. So a lot depends on assumptions while driving. For example if a small baby is standing next to the car you cant notice him!! So take great care in noticing what you have next to you or in front of you before negotiating you. The reason why the windows dont clear the water droplets as you roll them down is that there is a gap between the window slot and the window itself, also causing huge amount of window rattles. Apparently Kalyani Motors in Bangalore have expertise solving this issue and you should be heading to them if you want it sorted out in one go. The rear space is only for two but you can have another uncomfortable friend squeezed in literally if you need to. But that person will be feeling like an uninvited guest rest assured.

8. Overall comfort - Some body roll, Some anxious moments due to speed and braking ineffectiveness at times. But other than that this car is going to shield you from the elements come what may! with wider tyres the car is a dream to drive and the only other time I felt good is when I drove the palio earlier. This is surely one of the best comfortable cars to drive around, which is why 150000 of them have been sold till date and the figure is rising.

9. Pedals - The clutch is not exactly smooth and is a bit hard even after 5000km, and the torquey nature of the car compounds the situation if you are not aware and careful at all times. The car just moves by itself when you take your foot off the clutch without the need for acceleration. The accelerator and brake pedals are comfortable to use. But I would have surely expected a dead pedal to the left of the clutch for 6 lacs of investment, Maruti hope you will take note of this!

10. Service and maintenance - So far my costs are almost zero. Two free services later, I ve never had the need of taking this beauty to the service center for whatever reasons. This should pretty much sum up my service experience. The car was recalled for a change of electrical wiring harness change by Maruti and they did a good job of that. The harness costing 4000 bucks was replaced free of cost. I admire maruti for such product recalls which affirms the faith consumers have on the company. I also got a free gift (a travel bag) for owning the swift and was earlier called to country club on invitation for a maruti get together day. Small things go a long way in building relationships. Maruti could however build a couple of more car building plants and decrease waiting periods on their much loved cars. This would be a welcome move and is very much needed at this time to retain customers.

To end this blog post I d like to talk about three things. One is the static electricity. If you are and have been psyched about statics when you touch your car, you need to immediately change or put seat covers of art leather variety. If you sit on the cloth covers or the cloth based seats, then you are bound to get electrocuted with these mini charges each time you step out !! The second thing is about increasing the performance of this car. There is a product called Pete’s tool Box for the swift that costs about 30000 bucks. this would increase the BHP from 75 to 90 and torque by about 25-30% which will put even more zing in your car. For more details on this refer this article.The third thing is mileage: 15-16 with ac in city (with wide tyres), and 16-17 on highways always driving at 100-120kph. For normal tyres the mileage in city with ac goes upto 18kmpl.

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