Since World War 2, the province of Bataan is always remembered with the Story of the “Fall of Bataan” and the infamous “Death March”. While yearly we commemorate April 9 as “Araw ng Kagitingan”, on a positive note, Suzuki Philippines invited a group of media outfits for a test drive of the all-new 2019 Suzuki Swift.
Suzuki Philippines selected Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar Resort in Bagac, Bataan as the venue for the media test drive. The Suzuki Swift is equipped with a sportier, more cutting-edge look coupled with the fun-to-drive nature that the Swift has always been known for.
After the usual opening remarks, media briefing, and product presentation, the Swift media convoy left Caloocan to proceed to Las Casas Filipinas Bataan, around 180 kilometers from departure point approximately a 3-hour drive via NLEX.
Suzuki’s designers went for an evolutionary approach when designing the new Swift, maintaining the iconic look and identity that the small hatchback has always been known for. The Swift now has a sportier, more aggressive front-end, highlighted by its sporty hexagonal grille and more aggressive headlight design. At the rear, the hatchback features a blacked-out C-pillar that gives the car a unique side profile, while the pillar mounted door handles give it an illusion of having only two doors. These are then finished off by LED taillights that give the car a modern flair. LED daytime running lights are standard across all variants, but for this GL AT variant, the LED daytime running lights are separate from the main headlight clusters. It all looks good, especially the test units lent to us by Suzuki, as these had a set of decals, side skirts, spoilers, diffusers, and a few black and red stripes.
Despite the new Swift being dimensionally smaller than before, Suzuki’s engineers managed to increase interior space. The Swift’s trunk is 25% larger than before, while the interior itself has more passenger room for all occupants. This is all thanks to the axles being pushed further out of the vehicle, making the overhangs shorter, the wheelbase longer, and the engine compartment itself smaller. With only the three of us in the car, backseat legroom seems comfortable for an average-sized Filipino adult just like myself. As this is still a relatively small car, taller and long-legged passengers may find it difficult to squeeze in. In terms of luggage capacity, it has 918 liters with the seats folded, and 556 liters when the rear seats are folded. A couple with three children may fit harmoniously inside the Swift, but not for three adults seated abreast at the back seats.
Design-wise, the interior looks quite funky and sporty thanks to the use of more angular shapes and lines. A sporty three-spoke steering wheel with a flat bottom design creates a sporty vibe, while the center console is angled by five degrees towards the driver, giving both cars a more driver-focused interior layout. A 7-inch touch screen infotainment system is equipped as standard on all variants. The user interface is nice and well designed, plus it responds quite responsively to your inputs. It also includes the usual Bluetooth, USB, AUX, and offline navigation.
Our route to Mt. Samat was a great opportunity to test the new Swift’s powertrain. The uphill battle of the climb was reminiscent of the historic “Bataan Death March,” and it proved fairly easy for this compact car to go through the bends. A 1.2-liter inline-4 petrol engine rests under the hood, producing 82 hp @ 6,000 rpm and 113 Nm of torque @ 4,200 rpm. Though the CVT has been tuned mainly for fuel economy, it provides a good response when you want more power for overtaking.
As we passed-by some rough-roads portion of the highway, the front MacPherson struts with coil springs and rear torsion beam with coil spring come into play. For others who have no rallycross motorsports experience, they may find the shock absorbers to be a little harsh and stiff, but the Swift was relatively designed to have a sporty edge. Our Philippine rally racing team used the Suzuki Swift car in last year’s Otago Rally in New Zealand. The chassis of this car is well engineered to withstand challenging variable road surface conditions. When it comes to its stopping power, the Swift has front ventilated disc brakes and leading/trailing drum brakes. It performed quite well since driving through the convoy lets you frequently push the brakes to avoid a rear collision since it was necessary for us to keep close proximity so as not to break the convoy.
After almost three hours of driving, we finally arrived at Las Casas Filipinas de Azucar. Set in an 18th-century village with cobbled streets and colonial-style buildings, Las Casas Filipinas de Azucar in Bataan transports every guest back in time to the earlier days of the Philippines while offering a luxurious escape from the city. Built by Jose Rizalino Azucar to showcase his passion for restoring vintage Filipino houses, the resort offers a grandiose landscape, classic architecture, restaurants and a beach resort inside a sprawling 400-hectare heritage park evoking the memories of the Old Manila.
The all-new Suzuki Swift proved to be easy and fun to drive with its responsive and precise rack and pinion power steering system and short dimensions. In terms of safety, this GL variant is also well equipped, since it includes dual front SRS airbags, side impact door beams, ABS with EBD function, brake assist function and 3-point ELR front and rear seatbelts for all five occupants. Overall, the Swift was able to prove its fuel efficiency, powerful performance and advanced safety features as the motoring media navigated the straight lines of NLEX and bumpy roads of Bataan.
With the new Suzuki Swift being able to give us a solid first impression with how nicely it drives, we can’t wait to get our hands on one and be able to test it in our daily routines.