Update or redesign? That is the question for Suzuki.
Suzuki has unquestionably taken the status of Japan’s ascending automotive brand. The company now handsomely outranks Honda in the South African market, by sales volume.
The current Suzuki Swift has been on sale since 2017 and it is due to be replaced by next year. With the automotive industry undergoing its greatest transformation in history, Suzuki’s engineers and product planners are poised to make some crucial decisions, regarding the next Swift’s specification.
Hybridisation is now an accepted fact of any future product, no matter how large it is or the associated brand. Suzuki realises that its next Swift will have to accommodate battery power, in some configuration, and although this will create challenges for the Japanese company’s platform engineers, it should deliver huge benefits for loyal followers of the brand.
The desire to offer a better hybrid powertrain option for the Swift, combing Suzuki’s 1.2-litre petrol engine with a battery pack, will in all likelihood force the company to develop an all-new platform for the Swift replacement. Currently, Suzuki offers a very small mild-hybrid option in certain European markets but anything with more battery power will require a major change.
An interesting possibility is that Suzuki will merely upgrade the exiting Swift platform next year, extending the lifecycle for another five years, with a new exterior and interior design. By 2027, the available battery technology and customer acceptance of hybrids might be more feasible for Suzuki to invest heavily in a radically re-engineered Swift platform.
With strong global sales and a relatively healthy cash position to fund its R&D, most analysts expect the next Swift to ride on a new redesigned architecture, leveraging from the latest advances in automotive steel production. Whether these advances will transfer over to the Indian manufacturing plant (where SA sources its Swifts from) still has to be seen.
Beyond the presence of mild-hybridization, the new Swift should also gain a significantly larger touchscreen infotainment system and better rear-passenger ventilation. An air-conditioning system with rear vents will certainly find favour with Suzuki Swift customers who reside in warm climate markets, such as South Africa.