The long-awaited locally-assembled Suzuki Swift is finally going in sale, following its official launch tonight. Two versions of the 1.5-litre hatchback are available, both with 4-speed automatic transmission and the cheaper version goes for RM71,943.50 (insurance included) while the better –equipped Premier version has a pricetag of RM78,099.50. With the price lower than the earlier Swifts which came from Japan completely built-up, Suzuki Malaysia Automobile (SMA) expects to sell around 300 units a month.
The Swift is, of course, no stranger to Malaysian roads, having first appeared in 2005. Up till May this year, nearly 1,800 units have been sold and the model remains popular, hence the decision by SMA to have it assembled locally at AMM in Pekan, Pahang. Some RM20 million was spent to set up dedicated assembly facilities which include a robotic welding line – unusual for the volume of the Swift and goes against conventional thinking that you need hundreds of thousands of units a year to justify having a robot do the welding instead of a human being.
The Swift specifications are as good as the imported version sold earlier with the engine being the 1.5-litre DOHC 16-valve unit that has variable valve timing. 15-inch alloy rims are standard and for safety, there’s ABS, Brake Assist and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution. Dual front airbags are also installed as standard, something which SMA chose not to compromise on in the interests of motoring safety.
Inside the Swift, the audio system has MP3 capability and a 6-speaker layout. Rare in this class of cars is the provision of switches for the audio system on the steering wheel and, not visible, an electro-magnetic latch for the rear hatch.
The Premier version has a sportier exterior with a bodykit, leather upholstery and glass tinting. The total value of these three items is RM6,000.
Four colours choices are available for both versions: Bayside Blue, Silver Grey, Supreme Red and Tranquility Black.
The Swift Sport was also unveiled tonight although it’s not a new car to many as it was shown a year ago at the KL International Motorshow. At that time, SMA had expected to be able to start selling the car before the end of 2006 but due to tremendous worldwide demand, it was difficult to get units for Malaysia. Even getting units this year has not been easy but SMA managed to persuade Suzuki to supply some and sales should commence sometime in August.
According to a SMA source, there will be manual and automatic versions offered and they are trying to get the prices (excluding insurance) down to RM99,000 for the manual and RM104,000 for the automatic. The final pricing still depends on how much Customs will stipulate as the gazetted price for this model which has a 125-bhp 1.6-litre engine.
SMA’s CEO, Bastamam Hamzah, said that the Suzuki engineers were concerned about the fuel quality in Malaysia because the engine runs on a very high compression ratio of 11:1. Confident that this would not be an issue, he began a long-term test on Malaysian fuel since the middle of 2006 to prove the point.