Maruti Suzuki has sold 22 lakh units of the Swift in India since the car was launched in mid-2005
Maruti Suzuki has been India’s largest car maker several years now. The dominance is so strong that, Hyundai, which has stayed at the second position for an almost similar time, doesn’t even manage to sell half the number of cars sold by Maruti Suzuki in the country. The journey that began way back in the 1980s has seen many milestone cars hitting the roads. These include everything from a very affordable and practical Maruti 800 to the extremely popular sub-compact SUV Vitara Brezza. But one name that strikes a big emotional chord with the Indian consumer is the Swift.
The design has seen the kind of evolution that always makes the Swift look a car of the present times.
The ‘hot hatch’ as it has been known for very long was launched in India for the for the first time in the summer of 2005, barely a few months after its global debut and is now celebrating 15 years of its eventful journey in the country. In this decade and a half, Maruti has been able to successfully sell more than 22 lakh units of the car in the market. The car had come to India in its first generation and became an instant hit because of everything it offered. Affordability came with looks, practicality came with features and drivability came with ergonomics, a potent package that was rarely seen earlier.
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In 2005 carandbike interviewed the Maruti team that worked on making the first generation Swift.
It was the first time in the history of Suzuki Motor Company that a group of engineers from Maruti were involved in the complete production of a new car. “It was a new experience because we were doing concurrent engineering and co-design level of work for the first time.” said C V Raman, Senior Executive Director (Engg) at Maruti Suzuki India Limited. Raman who was then the leader of a team of 25 Maruti Engineers who spent good amount of time at Suzuki headquarters in Hamamatsu, Japan in building the car added, ” A lot of testing was done in India but we used to only test vehicles in the night due to confidentiality. So we used to go early in the morning and late in the night for testing on the roads.”
The Swift has been the market leader in its segment for the last 14 years
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It only helped that the car came from a reputed brand and this made the consumers flock to the Maruti Suzuki showrooms. Fondly looking back at how the Swift has performed in the market, Raman says, “The car has delivered on performance, ride & handling and getting the customer’s acceptance in a big way. So from that perspective it has created its own niche in the segment.” According to him features like power steering or Air Conditioner got more democratised with the Swift. Before that other cars from Maruti Suzuki got such features only in the higher variants.
The car was first launched with only a petrol engine and the diesel came later in 2007.
The last decade has seen two more generations of the Swift, the third generation being launched at the 2018 edition of the Auto Expo. According to Raman, the car has evolved as a design over a period of time. “The design of the 3rd generation became more pronounced. It went a step further in terms of design.”, he added.
The team of Maruti Suzuki Engineers who were a part of worldwide Swift development team
What also remained constant during the Swift’s journey right from 2007 up until the BS6 regulations, which came into effect, earlier this year was the iconic 1.3 litre Multijet Diesel engine from Fiat, a mile muncher that felt at home inside the car. On the other hand, the Petrol iterations kept changing from a fun to drive 1.3 liter 4 cylinder mill in the initial phase to a more composed 1.2 liter motor seen in the latest generation.
With features like AMT gearboxes, the Swift always kept up with the demands of the modern times.
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Even in terms of features, as the years passed Maruti Suzuki changed the Swift enough to keep up with the demands of the modern times. Be it the connectivity systems or Automated manual technology (AMT) gearboxes. It continues to command respect of enthusiasts and fans alike. The company loves it, the dealers adore it, the owners swear by it. And if the company is to be believed the car is here to stay, Raman says, “Going forward we will make necessary changes to the car as and when required. Swift is going to be Swift and it is going to continue that volume niche. There is no vehicle like that.” The romance between the hot hatch and India doesn’t seem to be getting over in a hurry.