Saturday, July 7, 2012

Suzuki Swift : Used Car Super Star

 You may be interested in this article if...

  1. You are an environmental do-gooder that doesn't have $38 000 to spend on a Nissan Leaf
  2. You want to prove to your neighbours that practicality doesn't have to be spelt "S-U-V" or cost over $3000.
  3. You are a first time buyer looking for the most value for money
  4. You appreciate well engineered cars
The Suzuki Swift is certainly a legend in North America. When asked, many people wouldn't hesitate to name it the smallest car they've ever known on the market. It was the small box that all good things came in, and the car sold well throughout North America. Although more recent models have grown in size and changed that reputation, this article will be focusing on the '96-'01 model years which produced an extremely fuel efficient, space efficient, and sufficiently versatile vehicle that just about everyone could afford.

Despite a humble introduction at the 25th tokyo motor show as a new super mini platform designed for the Japanese domestic market alone, the Swift would travel all over the world and settle in many markets with great success. Unknown to the public the Swift was actually one of the many names the car worked under once imported to North America. On a global level the car would be more accurately named the Suzuki Cultus (Cultus is latin for "adoration"). Throughout its life the car has gone on sale through other companies under different names in several countries. The more notorious names in North America would be: Geo Metro, Chevrolet Metro, Suzuki Swift and Pontiac Firefly. Surprisingly the car is still in production in Pakistan under the name Suzuki Margalla. Despite its numerous aliases, the Swift is still the same car underneath.

The Chevrolet Metro Convertible was and is still the cheapest convertible on the market

Contrary to the fact that Americans favour large vehicles over small vehicles the Swift sold exceedingly well in its early sales years. The reason wasn't that Americans had an abrupt change in taste, it was actually a result of an oil embargo between the Arab nations and the US and any of its affiliated nations. With the sharp drop in supply and unchanged demand for oil the cost was increased four fold from $3 per gallon to $12. There were stressful rationing measures while the embargo was in effect which threw the US in particular into a  nasty recession and energy crisis. Although the embargo ended just over a year after it began the damage had been done. The US would never look at cars the same way again as fuel economy became one of the primary sales points of all vehicles sold.

A 1973 sign indicating the meaning of a gas station's flag relative to its availability

However terrible the crisis was, the fruit of this terrible misfortune is quite sweet for automotive engineering. As a result of the high price of oil car manufacturers began producing smaller FF cars (those with Front engines and Front wheel drive). These FF cars were lighter and more arrow dynamic to help increase fuel economy as much as possible. Furthermore, these new cars were designed to be as cheap as possible so that those feeling the strain of the recession would be able to afford them. The Swift competed with the Hyundai Excel and later Hyundai Accent for the title of cheapest entry level car in North America. Although the Swift was more expensive than the Excel or Accent by about 2k, the Swift had always been (until recently) more fuel efficient and durable.

So the results were cars with great fuel efficiency that are cheap to buy, and have excellent interior space for small cars thanks to the FF design. Couple this with the versatility that a hatch back and folding rear seat give to cargo space and the Swift begins to look very practical, especially for first time buyers.

What this means for everyone in 2011 is that the ageing Swift is a gem of a car to consider buying used.
Whichever nameplate you buy this car under the Swift promises to satisfy.

Anyone who is worried about the environmental impact of owning and driving their own car can rest easy knowing the Swift was engineered in response to an oil shortage so there is no doubt it was designed for optimum fuel efficiency which can rival modern hybrids and with a 1.0L engine equipped gets 32/41 city/highway. In addition to this, by buying second hand the pollution associated with production doesn't occur.

Fuel Economy Ratings according to

Finally, anyone who is economically minded or obligated to be under pain of poverty will be satisfied that the Swift will cost around $2960 used and in good condition according to the blue book, which is less than 1/3 of the cost of a new economy car. On top of that, the annual cost of gas will total around $1500, and although the swift is sturdy and reliable, the low blue book value assures cheap insurance rates.

*Interesting Note*
Gas prices are governed by demand. If everyone drove cars like the Swift we would see lower prices at the pumps nation wide! Which is cooler than when I taught my dog to parallel park.


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