Aside from being one of the best-selling hatchback cars in the country, the Maruti Swift is also one of the most popular cars in the used car market. In fact, it is not uncommon for Swifts to change hands just hours after landing at a used car dealership. Despite being around for the better part of the decade, it still manages to attract the masses with its contemporary styling, efficient petrol and diesel engines and ease of maintenance. This avid interest in the Swift has also resulted in the stylish hatchback holding its value very well in the used car market. But would it make sense to buy a used Swift petrol or a diesel?
While scouting for a pre-owned Swift, you will come across three engine options. Amongst the petrol engines, there is the older 1.3-litre motor from the Maruti Esteem and the newer 1.2-litre K-series engine that made its way into the Swift’s engine bay in 2010. Between the two petrol engines, the K-series unit is the one we recommend as it’s a more modern unit with better fuel efficiency, without compromise on power.
We performed a detailed analysis, comparing a new petrol Swift and diesel Swift to check which one made more economic sense. There, we concluded that unless you run your car about 1,800km a month, the petrol car was the most cost effective option. But, this was mainly due to the big difference in price (about Rs 1.49 lakh) between the top spec Maruti Swift ZXi (petrol) and Maruti Swift ZDi (diesel) hatchback variants and this made the break-even period for the diesel car a bit too long. But, as a used buy, the price difference between the two hovers around Rs 60,000 to Rs 75,000 for a two-or-three-year old car in their popular VXi and VDi trims. However, since the time we carried out that analysis, the price of diesel has shot up by over 10 percent, while petrol prices have escalated by around six percent. So, does that change anything? Let’s crunch some numbers and find out. In Mumbai, diesel is sold at Rs 57.61 per litre, while petrol commands Rs 77.78 per litre – a difference of Rs 20.17 per litre. Further, according to our tests, the diesel Swift returns 17.05kpl, while its petrol counterpart (K-series) manages around 14.8kpl. Do the math and you will realise that for every kilometre you travel, the diesel-powered car saves you approximately Rs 1.87.
Therefore, when it comes to a used Swift, driving just 50km a day will help you break even in about two and a half years. And this is without considering the fact that you will recover a portion of the difference when you sell the car. From the table it is clear that, with time, the price gap between the two diminishes. This means, if you’re on a budget and looking at older cars, the Maruti Swift Diesel should be the obvious choice.
What should I look out for?
Once you’ve decided between a diesel and petrol Swift, a major concern when buying a pre-owned car is its mechanical health. We have listed down a few areas (especially on the diesel engine) that need attention as the car ages.
Steering damper (Both petrol and diesel)
At around 50,000km, the steering damper is prone to start making noise. While driving over a rough stretch of road or a speed breaker, a worn steering damper will feel like a component is loose in the lower part of the steering. Maruti’s first solution to this is to apply special grease to the rack and re-torque the damper again. If the noise is gone, well, you are lucky. If not, then you either live with it or the next solution is to replace the entire steering assembly, which costs a whopping Rs 27,000.
Strut bushes and stabilisers (Petrol and diesel)
The strut bushes, if constantly driven over bad roads, require a replacement at around 35,000-40,000km. At around Rs 2,000 (including labour), it doesn’t cost much but the noise it emits can be used as a negotiation point to sweeten the deal.
The 1.3-litre diesel engine is fitted with a turbocharger that relies on engine oil for its cooling needs. A turbo spins at extremely high speeds and reaches very high temperatures. Driving the car smoothly and keeping an eye on the condition of the oil helps prevent damage to the unit. If the previous owner hasn’t followed this practice, chances are that the turbo may be damaged and isn’t performing at optimum efficiency. While driving, rev the engine to around 2000rpm to 2500rpm and listen for a whining noise from the turbo. Also, in some cases, the turbo will kick in late and you will feel a long delay in throttle response. A turbo replacement is the only solution, it’s a steep Rs 15,000.
So, what to choose?
The petrol Swift hatchback, with its free revving engine, is a pleasure to drive fast and makes for an entertaining driving experience. But since it surprisingly holds its value better than its diesel sibling (possibly because of the wrong perception that diesels are expensive to maintain), it isn’t as appealing to your pocket as it is to your heart. Principally based on overall expenditure, the diesel Swift makes better financial sense. And it’s not just economics that works in its favour either. The 1.3-litre DDiS engine performs admirably on the highway and once you learn to change gears to work around the delayed throttle response, it isn’t too bad in the city either. Yes, it does have marginally higher maintenance costs, but the significant savings on the better fuel efficiency will easily make up for it. Unless you barely run your car a few kilometres a day, the Swift diesel is definitely worth the extra investment.