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Maruti Suzuki Swift Diesel Vdi 15000km review

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

/ by Srikanth Eswaran

A review of the Swift Diesel Vdi Diesel car can be already found on this blog. But that review is more apt for 5000km of driving. In about one year, I have now finished a little more than 15000km and feel its appropriate to continue writing an extended usage review of this beautiful and substantially powerful car.

I can go on about the parts of the car, its good points, drawbacks etc just like the previous review, but would rather prefer to write some crisp points about this car having used it for one year and many thousand kilometers by now. This review could be pretty descriptive as you read on. Before I start off talking on the car, let me tell you that I have a knee-cap related problem which is getting worse day by day. This only means that I would love cars that have easy drive capability or even those that are automatic in nature of gear system. Having said this, a few points now about my Swift Diesel Vdi and its 15000km journey!

Torque and Inertial forces

If the car is in lower gears and you let go of the clutch there is a sudden gush of torque, which pushes the car forward. I like this reaction since it does not necessiate the usage of the accelerator often as we do in petrol cars to push the car forward. Having said this, my knee feels at ease due to this feature, and every time I change the gear, I simply let go of the clutch at the right time to make the car go forward by itself. This can also prove to be a nuisance to people who can't handle it and hence a word of caution for people exeperiencing it. Drive with care. To best use this torque, I also have changed my office time to non peak hours (thanks to understanding management) whereby the roads are pretty empty and make me get the full potential out of my car. This force also comes into being when you reduce speed at busy intersections momentarily and enables you to pick up to cruising speed again - all without changing your gear. So in essence momentary braking does not necessiate a gear change as such. So lesser the gear changes, lesser the fuel consumption, and lesser the strain on your hands and legs. Now do you know what 16000kms of pure pleasure means? :)

Turbo Boost at approximately 1800 - 1900 RPM

When the car reaches 1800-1900 RPM in any gear, there is a turbo boost produced by the engine. There is no other car on the lower side of 6 lacs where I have felt my heart pound in anxiety when this boost occurs. This is the most defining point in the car and its this boost that enables you to take off from the mundane traffic. Be aware though that the EPS (Electronic power steering) is extremely sensitive and during the instance of such a boost, never let your steering go out of control, the results could mean the end of your car. Also, never ever drive on a curve at the speeds this boost offers, else be sure that your head is going to reel and you may lose control of this car. The trick behind using this turbo boost is to effectively manouvre your car around the traffic. All said, this turbo boost provides me a feeling of an airplane about to take off.

Power

I have seen four cars until the swift and I should tend to state that I now finally have a sufficiently powered hatch on my hands. I have had cars of 800cc and 1200cc and have also driven cars of 1100cc. I must say that 1300cc for a diesel engine added with 190Nm of torque makes this hatch a great combination. Add the turbo boost mentioned above and the combination becomes explosive. The only thing left to do is to add Pete's tuning kit to this car to get your true value for money. It raises the torque and power bar by roughly 30% to give you torque in the range of 240Nm and a power of about 90Bhp. More details on this tuning kit can be found here. For details on using this kit with Swift Vdi, click here.With this upgrade I will have a dynamite hatch on my hands :) Some people might say that the Getz Diesel is a much better car than Swift D, but I somehow want to strongly believe that the Swift D's turbo boost makes it an efficient city transport compared to the more linear Getz diesel and the now launched Fiat Palio MJD.

Space

This was a concern for me when I bought the car and if there is something that I hate about hatches, and particularly so the Swift, its the space constraint. When I pay money for a car, that too six lakhs and more, I don't want to hear flimsy excuses about space or comfort. Unfortunately the boot space in Swift is marginally good not exceptional as it should have been to make this a complete car. So if you are thinking of stacking gas cylinders or even huge suitcases for flight journeys in this car, forget it. If you are however smart enough to "adjust" to your car (rather than the other way round), then you would pack up all your stuff in small carry bags, and load the boot in which case your sum total of the luggage will still make it to your destination. Havind said this much about boot space, if I were to throw another volley at you saying the passenger cabin at the rear is cramped, how would you feel? To each his own you might say and to some extent I agree too. Swift D is a four people car honestly, though I did manage 700 odd highway kilometers with three adults at the back. My mother bore the brunt of sitting in a cramped car thoughout. In any car, except might I say the Logan, the third person at the rear is always in uninvited guest. And the Swift is no execption. At the rate at which Indian population grows the automobile companies need to sell entire buses for less than five lakhs! :)

Personally for me, I dont care much about rear space since I hardly use the rear of the car. But as time goes by, with kids around, I would need to seriously think about the entire cabin space than just the driver side seat. And at that time, I will objectively decide what to do with my car. But that day seems a bit far away at the moment. The only sore moment I had was when I bought a cycle and wanted to stuff it into my Swift D to take it home. It did present some problems, but then hey, no one tries to put a cycle into a car or a motorcycle into an auto and things like that and expect your car would accomodate all that :) If you want to know how to stuff a cycle into the Swift, look at this !!


This should be titled 2008, a space odyssey!!

Tyres and Punctures

In my earlier review, I had posted a few pictures of my new alloys and tyres; Lenso and Michelins. When I decided to go for these at a cost of Rs.37,500 for a set of five each (alloys and tyres), the friendly neighbourhood tyreman Ashwin (of Sai Iyengar and Sons) adivsed me to choose these. Only for my fourth car did I decide to go for good alloys and tubeless tyres. In my earlier cars, the tubed tyres often had problems. Not punctures precisely but something close - loss of air without reasons and this tended to severe wobbling. This was the worst thing for me to tolerate and it gives a sick feeling driving the car when something of this nature happens. So without thinking twice I shelled out 37 grand for my own sense of having a good feeling driving my car. I would like to reiterate here that this is perhaps the best thing I ever did in my life. After 16500 kms of drives, my tyres still feels as good as new even now. The tread is intact and they have not gone bald yet. The alloys took beatings while misjudging the pavement twice, but they managed to gracefully take the impact without cracking up. Full marks to Lenso from Taiwan.

As for the tyres, they have just been great with the occasional low-air situations, but these were times when they genuinely needed a refill. After 16,000 kms I had one puncture finally and believe me or not, I thought its a normal low-air situation and drove around with that puncture for one week. Casually when I went to check the tyre up with Sai Iyengars, he pointed out two big huge nails sitting comfortably all plunged into the tyre. The Michelins withstood that and more and they performed gracefully even under real tight situations like these. Paid hundred bucks to set the puncture right and now back to using the car as usual. You can see for yourself the nails that went into the tyre.

I also find that if it has rained a lot outside and there is mud/slush on the roads, then the michelins behave a bit draggily and the car isn't at its peak of performance health. This I believe happens with any other car on the same road, so I am reserving my opinion on this until I get some clarity.

Visibility and Seating comfort

I was thinking that only the former was a real weak point with the Swift D, but to some extent even the seating comfort is not good at all. In this segment, Tata's have always been at the forefront to provide lumbar support and thigh support in all their cars. Unfortunately in Swift D or for that matter even in P, the thigh support is very bad and it shows after one hour when the thighs start aching even though the pedal pressing is at a minimum. This is really bad for long journeys. When I drove to chennai, I had to rest my feet every one hour and take a walk for one minute atleast. Remember I have started off this review stating my medical condition! Now for the visibility part - its zilch! Zero! This is the worst car with respect to visibility. If a small child were to be standing next to my car you can be rest assured that I cannot notice it when I am in the car. That's a scary thought is it not? Well so much is the visibility in this car that an hour or so in this car makes you feel claustrophobic to the core. I have had stuffy spells and dizzy spells with the turbo boost in this car.

Beyond all that I must say that after 16000kms, I have not banged my car anywhere for whatever reason. No one dead because of me either. And no major scratches either.

Of Fogging & Defogging

Yet another crib about this car. In rainy season, when it pours outside, the car fogs easily. It also accumulates a certain soapy layer on the windshiled when the wipers are used. Unfortunately Maruti thinks that giving a rear defogger for six lakhs worth of car is a luxury. Shame on this automobile company. Their very reason for existence can be questioned. Its difficult for me to live with this problem, and if my readers can suggest whether I can include a defogger separetely. I welcome opinions on this.

On safety

Well, I had one accident with this car. An Indica going left to me and parallel to me, suddenly maniacally turned his power steering and in turn his car onto my car directly on the left side doors. Audaciously he did not even stop to admit his mistake. It was a private vehicle, not a cab. Now on this I got royally enraged at him, used my turbo boost, went ahead of him in no time, cut him short behind me and made him stop. Argued with the driver to make him see sense, but he disagrees anything was wrong with what he did. Get the phone numbers of the owner (another IT guy) and speak to him at length on the road, until he agrees its his driver's fault. We exchange addresses, and some notes about the problem on hand and then I decide not to lodge a complaint. With this my service costs included for replacing one door, and painting another fully with ozone blue colour was Rs.30000/-. But since insurance covered it, I had to pay about 1500 bucks only. At the cost of no claim bonus denied for the next insurance renewal.

There is a bar on the side doors that goes obliqually from bottom to top, and this bar was dented with the accident. Hence there was no other way other than to replace one of the doors. But I must admit my service center Green Cars in Koramangala, did an extremely good job on the car and left me thoroughly satisfied.

I always wear seat belts for the past 4-5 years now and I feel its a shame that Maruti thinks giving airbags on the diesel model is a luxury for certain people. I thought always that Maruti was a leader in such things. So much for leadership. They need to take an example out of the Chevy Spark, which provides airbags for a car that small and its safety is the best aspect of this car. If you want to know how safe Spark is, read this, I am sure your perception on the car will change forever.

I am not sure how much of impact the Swift will take, but one must remember that seat belts alone won't help in a car, the airbags compliment safety in a much more refined and defined sense.

Finally

I like this car a lot, its easy to drive in the city, gives me about 16kmpl mileage, the tyres make me feel more secure and overall its value for money. If you do have one lakh more, go for the swift Dzire and I feel you wont be disappointed ! But for hotness in hatches, this is it .... ! Until my next review, Adieu.

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