In the month of May, in 2005, the Indian automotive industry witnessed a seminal event. It led to the creation of a new segment in the passenger car market and changed perceptions about hatchbacks forever. We are talking about the launch of the Maruti Suzuki Swift. Having won over two million hearts to date, the Swift is celebrating a decade and a half of success and thrills in India, and this is an opportune time to go down memory lane and take a look at the Swift’s all-conquering journey.
When Maruti Suzuki launched the Swift 15 years ago, the Maruti 800 was still India’s largest-selling car. Hatchbacks sold because they were reliable and economical and it took Maruti Suzuki to manufacture a car that would be all of the above and yet be premium and fun-to-drive. The Swift was launched barely months after it was released in Japan, and it looked and felt like a car that would be at home anywhere in the world. It was designed and developed in Europe and inspired by iconic performance machines such as the Suzuki Hayabusa. It had introduced top-notch features such as Electronic Climate Control to the hatchback segment. Maruti Suzuki even set up a dedicated team of ‘Energisers’ to exclusively sell the Swift. Their job was made easy because the car possessed the driving dynamics and performance to match the show.
The first generation Swift created a cult following for itself, thanks to its futuristic design, bold and dynamic stance and an unmatched drive experience. Plus, it scored on the fuel efficiency front too. Not surprisingly, the Swift won a lot of the shiny stuff all round - in fact, it is the most awarded premium hatchback in the country.
Within a year and a half of its launch, the Swift had found over 1,00,000 buyers. The carmaker breached the 2,00,000 sales-mark in March of 2008, and more milestones — 3,00,000 and 5,00,000 units sold — followed in February 2009 and in September 2010, respectively. In 2010, Maruti Suzuki made the Swift BS4-ready by replacing the 1.3-litre G13B motor with a modern 1.2-litre K12M unit.
Better and smarter
By 2011, the segment had become very competitive. A few premium hatchbacks had arrived with the aim of challenging the Swift for supremacy. However, with the launch of the second-gen model in August 2011, the hatchback retained its No. 1 position in the segment - the one-millionth car was sold in September 2013. Regular updates ensured the model remained in-sync with customer requirements - 2014 saw the Swift get Bluetooth telephone function and keyless go, among other features.
Thrice as nice
2018 saw the third generation of the Swift arrive and true to tradition, Maruti Suzuki kept up the momentum, arming the hatchback with an arsenal of features. The car, built on Suzuki’s HEARTECT platform, was wider and had a longer wheelbase. Plus, this one was also equipped with Maruti Suzuki’s Auto Gear Shift technology. The Swift, which features sweptback headlamps and a driver-oriented cockpit, also got dual airbags and ABS with EBD, among other features.
Throughout the Swift’s journey, one thing has remained constant: its ability to attract young buyers in droves. It was very often the first car for people in their late 20s and early 30s, and that appeal hasn’t dimmed one bit. Just so you know; the Swift had a near-30 percent market share in the premium hatchback segment in 2019-20. So, what’s next for one of India’s favourite hot-hatches? If you are a Swift lover, you’d be well advised to watch this space.