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Old 18th March 2014, 17:22   #1
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Default Maruti Swift 1.2L K-series petrol @ 74,000 kms...still in love

Preface
I have been thinking about writing this review for a while now, hoping all along that no one beats me to writing a long term review of the Swift K-series which according to me is a hugely underrated car. It has always lived in the shadow of its star sibling, the Swift DDiS which has been worshipped across the country and is a legend now. I am going to try and change that perception a bit, will tell you why I feel Swift K-series is a better car. You may choose to agree or disagree but I really do hope that you will enjoy reading this.

The casual dates with prospective lovers
This love affair between me and my Swift K-series dates back to the April of 2010, when my faithful Maruti 800 was lifted from DLF Galleria, a posh market in the heart of Gurgaon. It was quite a shock and not a happy time to begin the search for an equally faithful companion. To add to my woes, I had to make the decision in no time, since I used to work in Delhi then and was in a direct selling role.
And thus began the maniacal internet search (mostly on Team BHP), excel sheet calculations and daily test drives to zero-in on the car I knew I will live with for the next 5 years at a minimum, a place I would spend a good percentage of my time in. With a budget of 3.5 to 4.75 lacs (stretched) in mind, I had the following options (petrol only) to choose from, besides the Swift:
  • Hyundai Santro (top variant) – Good overall car, it offered decent equipment for the time and price, but then was a segment lower than the cars listed below
  • Hyundai i10 (base variant) – Good car, well put together and peppy to drive, but didn’t handle as well as a few cars listed here, didn’t quite blow me away
  • Ford Figo (base variant) – Good equipment level, superb handling, claimed low maintenance, best in class AC, but lacked the heart (read low power on tap)
  • Indica Vista (base variant) – The most spacious of the cars listed here, nothing more to write home about, had a distinct desi feel to it
  • Volkswagon Polo (base variant) – Had the best build quality among these cars, but was low on power and had a 3 pot mill which made a bad sounding grunt when pushed slightly, that it had a 4 month waiting period really killed the deal for me (remember I needed the car delivered like yesterday)

Petrol vs Diesel
You will find the diesel variants missing from the above list for two reasons – one, I am an ardent fan of quiet, yet powerful petrol engines and two, the gap between petrol and diesel fuels was not very wide as the price of petrol had not been deregulated at the time. In hindsight, it was a wrong decision economically but hey, there is more to driving then just economy. If you ask me whether I regret having decided against buying a diesel car, my answer is an emphatic NO. Will I buy a petrol car again, the answer is an even more emphatic YES. Diesel cars were out of the question anyway because of longer waiting periods.

The elimination process
I eliminated Santro for being from a segment lower and Vista for its rawness. I will spend a few words writing about Polo. There is love and then there is infatuation. I had the latter with the Polo, it looked beautiful in cherry red and had an amazing build quality for the price. However, it turned out to be a fleeting infatuation, the test drive wasn’t as pleasing or engaging and as I mentioned earlier, the waiting period made this relationship a non-starter. I would go on to find out later after driving a friend’s Polo that the car also had poor ground clearance and that I would have struggled with it on a lot of roads. Somebody up there was watching! Then there was Figo, a new kid on the block, very impressive handling and air conditioning. It even had front power windows on the base model, however, I didn’t come back pleased after the test drive. Something was missing, I read the specs and realized that I had rightly felt a lack of power since I had already driven a Swift K-Series by then.

Love at first crank
I had always been a great admirer of the Swift’s contemporary looks and had driven one of my friend’s diesel Swift umpteen number of times. I carried an impression of the Swift DDiS, for me it was a complete car with no negatives and was a darling of hundreds of thousands. I booked a test drive of the new Swift K-series model (old platform, top variant) with Apra motors, Gurgaon. As I cranked up the engine, it settled at such a note at idle, that it made me wonder if the engine had started at all. It was super silent, this was refinement of the top order. The seeds of love had been sown. Sparks flew as I stepped on the pedal, I was smitten. I immediately requested the salesman to allow me a longer drive than he would normally allow to prospective buyers. He probably saw the glint in my eyes, a big smile across my face and a heart beating so hard it could be heard in the idyllic cabin of the Swift K-series. He obliged. I took the car for an enthusiastic spin to the road that connects DLF Golf Course road to Mehrauli-Gurgaon road. The demo car had done less than 100 kilometers, it was pristine. It was smooth as silk and inspired a lot of confidence while cornering rather aggressively. Although the summer wasn’t at its peak, the AC felt adequate. The claimed fuel efficiency figures were high for the segment and the engine specs were impressive, 85 PS was by far the best among the cars listed above. Power was more important for me than the average buyer.

I propose and she accepts
I was in love! We got hooked and I brought her home.

That's me running through Team BHP's PDI checklist
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Making sure there were no scratches on the body
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I bring her home
4.23 lacs on road, that’s probably the cheapest a Swift LXi could be bought for anywhere in the country. Reason: I bought the car from a Delhi dealership (the ex-showroom price, 3.99 lacs in Delhi was a full 10k cheaper than it was in Gurgaon, I faintly remember the reason to be a higher duty in Delhi for cars above 4 lacs at the time) and got it registered in Gurgaon. Even after accounting for a higher percentage registration cost in Gurgaon, I saved a cool 7.5 k. I can bet this was the best deal you could get for a Swift. No discounts were offered and with the help of a friend’s good offices at the dealership, I got the delivery in a week of booking the car and about a fortnight from the day my 800 was stolen. I had kept my color choice flexible (except a couple of ugly looking colors), because I wanted the car as soon as possible and I got silky silver. It was a neutral and popular color, I could live with it. The staff at DD motors was courteous, I used T-BHP’s PDI checklist to avoid any surprises later. The delivery went uneventfully.

Keys handed over
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I showed loads of chivalry on our first date
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I haven’t heard of a love affair which hasn’t seen highs and lows and this one has been no different.

The Good

70,000 kms done, the engine still feels as if it was run-in a few days ago, battery is unchanged and shows no signs of giving up any time soon. Super.
Maruti Swift 1.2L K-series petrol @ 74,000 kms...still in love-70000.jpg

Overall experience
The car has done 74,000 kms on the odo as I write this piece, and I am yet to face any major issue with the car and this for me has been the highlight of this affair. There are more than 50,000 parts that make up a car and there is so much that can go wrong. But on my Swift, nothing has gone horribly wrong in the 4 years that I have driven it, though there have been a couple of niggles here and there.

Performance, ride quality and handling
The drive is exhilarating and engaging. You don’t need to floor the pedal to kick boredom. Just press the pedal a tad harder and wait a bit longer before shifting to the next higher gear and you are in for some thrill. The engine sounds sweet when pushed hard and responds to the pedal as if they were soul mates. The suspension which is softer than the diesel sibling doesn’t compromise the handling at speed and the ride is planted, though I have to admit it is not in the same league as Polo on the highway. The upside is that road imperfections are soaked up in a much better fashion than by the Polo and the high ground clearance helps me negotiate speed breakers easily. Swift is by far the best combination of ride, handling, fuel efficiency and power in its segment and no wonder it has been loved so much by our country.

I get a fuel efficiency of 15+ for a litre of fuel on the highway with AC switched on 100% of times, however, this drops a bit when I am in a hurry. It can cruise at 130-140 kmph all day without breaking a sweat, making you feel in control at all times and yet it will achieve this high fuel efficiency. Awesome engineering! In the city, I get a decent 12+ kmpl mileage in moderate to high traffic.

The car is equally easy to drive whether you are driving in mad traffic or on the highway with an eager engine, feather light clutch, superb handling and good all round visibility. It’s steering feels adequately light at low speeds and weighs up adequately at high speeds too. It adds to the driving pleasure and makes you feel sure.

She's a real looker
The car looks as good on the inside as on the outside. Even after 4 years of being a happy lover, there are times every now and then, when I stand in my balcony early in the morning sipping tea, admiring the sheer beauty of this car. It’s been 9 years (purists may correct me if I am wrong) since the Swift was seen on the roads for the first time and the car’s design still doesn’t look old to me, perhaps because the styling was a little ahead of its time at the car's launch. The curved front, and the bulging rear are still eye catching. No matter what angle you look at the car from, it pleases the eye and sort of seduces you to the driving seat.

The cabin is a pleasing place to be in
Step inside and you are welcomed with a classy dark grey interior and high quality seat fabric. It is still a mystery to me how some people like cars with beige interiors. Black/dark grey to me looks much sportier and practically easier to keep clean. Some people may argue that beige interior makes the car look bigger on the inside than it is, but then I feel that it only makes the car ‘look’ bigger.

The ergonomics
I am of average height and I love the driving posture of the car, the steering is placed at just the right angle and height (I don’t feel the same while driving the latest version of the Swift). The controls are pretty similar to the 800 I owned before this, so I didn’t require any time to get used to these. The horn is very comfortable to use (again it is not as comfortable to use in the latest Swift).

Thankfully, no stock ICE
The car didn’t come with a company fitted entertainment unit, which I would discover later after reading the ICE section on Team-BHP, was actually a blessing in disguise. I have an aftermarket unit with the component speakers of my choice driven through an amp and the sound blows away stock systems from cars priced much higher.

My little one enjoying her first ever long drive, have very fond memories of this trip
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There's sufficient space for a small family
There is sufficient head and leg room for my family of 4 adults and a 4 year old and a decent sized boot (again a bigger 232 litres capacity vs 216 litres for the new swift).

Gear shifting at its best
The gear shift is slick with short throws of the lever and neat slotting gears, I would claim that this amounts to a best-in-class gear shifting experience.

Things that add to comfort
The seat compound is of the right softness, equally comfortable for short and long drives. Thanks to the extremely refined K 12 mill, the Bridgestones, and the damping on front doors, my car’s cabin is so quiet a place that you could meditate in there. At 100 kmph. Beat fatigue.

On our longest date yet, 1300 kms Gurgaon-Manali-Gurgaon
Maruti Swift 1.2L K-series petrol @ 74,000 kms...still in love-man1.png

Not so missed feature
No power windows on the base model was a pain initially while I was in a sales role and the mileage was high. I have now learnt to live with it, and don’t really miss it except on those rare occasions when I need to open the passenger side window while driving alone, to ask for directions. And then there is this comforting thought of a crazy experience a friend of mine had with his Ford Endeavor, which cant happen with cars that have mechanical windows. May I request attention from all those poor souls who still drive cars without power windows, this friend was driving back from the mountains to Gurgaon in his Endeavor when one of the power windows malfunctioned; the winter was at its peak and there were a couple of elderly people in the SUV. The situation was such that neither could he stop over nor could he get the car fixed for a few hours. I really don’t need to explain what the passengers went through. They quite literally froze. Please always remember that this can never happen to you.

Keep it cool in there
Gurgaon’s summer is punishing. Swift’s AC makes the cabin a comfortable place to be in. This is off topic, but I will write this anyway, after the sun-block film ban, I started using the cheap shades you get at traffic signals to block some of the sun light and let me tell you, they do work. For less than 100 bucks you can get a set of 4 and I haven’t ever bought a product that has given me a better ROI. The traffic police has never pulled me over for using these.

The Bad

Damaged clutch
I would be biased if I didn’t let you know what I didn’t like about the car. The clutch got fried at 66,000 odd kms, however I wouldn’t entirely blame the car for it. The predominantly city drive combined with my aggressive driving style which requires more frequent gear shifts have been the most likely reasons. To clarify that I am not a poor driver, I want to mention that I don’t ride the clutch and even when driving on hilly roads I make deft use of the hand brake. Another fallout of the aggressive driving is that I have had to replace the brake pads thrice already. I know it for sure that a more sedate driver wouldn’t have had to get these replacements done so often.

After sales service
The service costs have been usually on the higher side for a car that comes from the Maruti stable. I have posted a detailed write-up on a Maruti service related thread which details the horrible experience I had at Pasco automobiles, Gurgaon when the service advisor smartly slipped in a few unnecessary works on the job card, which I had to get removed after an argument. I am never going back to that service station again and would advise the Gurgaon based readers who own Maruti cars to best avoid this service center. I had given detailed comments about my experience on the feedback form and I never even received a courtesy call. Poor after sales service doesn’t really make the car itself bad, however this is an important consideration for a buyer. Maruti needs to listen to the voice of disgruntled customers like me, it is Maruti’s service network which contributes to its high sales volumes and if left unheard for too long, this will start showing on sales charts.

The tires
The stock JK tires were skinny and didn’t do any justice to the highly capable car. Once worn out, I replaced them with a set of Bridgestone 185/70 R14 tires and I felt an instant improvement in the car’s ride, handling and a significant reduction in road noise. They are still doing duty and have a lot of rubber left on them. One of the stock JKs had also developed something that resembled a bubble on the visible side wall, I didn’t get any support from Maruti or a dealership to get this sorted. After struggling with JK for a while for a replacement and eventually giving up, I had to relegate the faulty tire to be used as a spare.

The Ugly

Annoying rattles
The sheet metal used on this car is sub-standard. Even a bicycle can leave an ugly dent on the body and itself go unscathed. The bumpers are flimsy; the doors have been rattling since the car was 10k kms old and this is when I have got the rattles removed at every service only to hear them again after 2.5k kms post every service. I even have heavy damping on the front two doors to help them take the pounding that my Hertz Hi-Energy monsters unleash on them. I have now learnt to live with the rattles for the 7.5k km preceding every service. I am not sure of how does the competition fare in this aspect, but this has been a real irritant for me.

Swift K-series vs Swift DDiS

Let's re-do the economics
This write-up would be incomplete if I didn’t make this comparison. Swift DDiS has been more commercially successful of the siblings and has sold much higher numbers. DDiS has had a much bigger fan following and the primary reason for this has been that it is run on a cheaper price regulated fuel and offers a higher fuel efficiency. It would be a very interesting study if someone could pull out the actual kilometers done by all Swift diesels on road today till date. I suspect a lot of people get their cost benefit analysis wrong while making this decision and don’t really estimate their annual running correctly. A lot of them probably ignore the cost of credit or the opportunity cost of investing the extra cash. Second hand car buyers ignore that Swift petrol’s half engine is currently available for about 32,000 bucks while a diesel one would set them back by 84,000 and the labor charges would also differ significantly. If you don’t believe me, call up a service center today. God forbid that you ever need one, an engine job would really pinch for a diesel Swift.

Faster of the two - K-series or DDiS?
The lesser yet important reason in my opinion is the perception that diesel Swift is a faster, more powerful car than its petrol sibling. The diesel Swift has higher torque and sees a sudden surge of power as the turbocharger kicks in, it falsely leads people into believing that it is faster than the petrol Swift.

Then there is the distinct nature of petrol engines which requires them to be revved hard to reach the maximum power band. I have observed that a lot of my friends, colleagues and relatives are totally unaware of how to get the maximum juice out of a petrol engine. At the risk of receiving criticism from Swift diesel owners, I want to tell all you readers that Swift K-series is faster off the block, and has a better top end than Swift DDiS.
Swift owners who are finding it difficult to believe, please read your owner’s manual today, it tells you the maximum allowed speed in kmph for each gear, for both cars.

The real deal
The silent engine, lesser vibrations and the softer suspension set up translate into more comfortable long drives with the driver fatigue setting in much later if you are driving a Swift K-series when compared with Swift DDiS.

Final word
In my opinion, Swift K-series deserves an 8.5 on 10 rating. It is nigh impossible to find a fault big enough that it could be a deal breaker. The gem of an engine is a deal clincher, nothing in the segment comes close.

Disclaimer: All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and you are welcome to disagree. Please don’t drag race with your friends to prove a point.

Last edited by Swiftoholic : 21st March 2014 at 02:48.
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Old 22nd March 2014, 13:21   #2
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Default Re: Maruti Swift 1.2L K-series petrol @ 74,000 kms...still in love

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Long-term Ownership Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 23rd March 2014, 08:55   #3
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Default Re: Maruti Swift 1.2L K-series petrol @ 74,000 kms...still in love

The K-Series is surely a long haul. I think the reason for the clutch giving away at 66K is because of too much of hill driving?

How are the interiors keeping up? But overall the K-series is an awesome engine to drive. I have both their implementations (Ritz and Swift) with folks at home. Having driving both esp the Ritz on highways as well, its amazing to see how it opens up. The only sore part I gather are the brakes. Any experiences on that front?

You look well set for another 70K ! Happy Miles.

PS : That snap along the river sums it up pretty well.
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Old 23rd March 2014, 09:34   #4
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Originally Posted by ampere View Post
The only sore part I gather are the brakes. Any experiences on that front?
Brakes were not an issue on the earlier generation swift.

Cool thread. Which reminds me- I haven't driven a K series petrol car till now! And looks like I'm missing out on a lot of fun.
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Old 24th March 2014, 11:53   #5
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Default Re: Maruti Swift 1.2L K-series petrol @ 74,000 kms...still in love

That's a nicely written review! I enjoyed reading it.
Totally agree with you on the K-Series engine. It's been a while since I drove a K-Series Swift, but I remember the engine being a gem.
I didn't find the brakes too great and rattles seem to be synonymous with Maruti products. Every product from the MS stable seems to develop rattles sooner or later. Blame the light build for that.
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Old 24th March 2014, 18:43   #6
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Default Re: Maruti Swift 1.2L K-series petrol @ 74,000 kms...still in love

Quote:
Originally Posted by ampere View Post
The K-Series is surely a long haul. I think the reason for the clutch giving away at 66K is because of too much of hill driving?

How are the interiors keeping up? But overall the K-series is an awesome engine to drive. I have both their implementations (Ritz and Swift) with folks at home. Having driving both esp the Ritz on highways as well, its amazing to see how it opens up. The only sore part I gather are the brakes. Any experiences on that front?

You look well set for another 70K ! Happy Miles.

PS : That snap along the river sums it up pretty well.
Not a lot of hill driving, I would say a lot of city driving in traffic was a more probable reason.

The interiors are pretty neat, got the car dry cleaned and the floor mats changed recently. It looks absolutely new on the inside, will post some pictures to show how it currently looks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CrAzY dRiVeR View Post
Brakes were not an issue on the earlier generation swift.

Cool thread. Which reminds me- I haven't driven a K series petrol car till now! And looks like I'm missing out on a lot of fun.
Brakes have generally been good, except for the frequent brake pad replacement. And yes, you must drive soon!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aditya View Post
That's a nicely written review! I enjoyed reading it.
Totally agree with you on the K-Series engine. It's been a while since I drove a K-Series Swift, but I remember the engine being a gem.
I didn't find the brakes too great and rattles seem to be synonymous with Maruti products. Every product from the MS stable seems to develop rattles sooner or later. Blame the light build for that.
Thanks mate. The brakes have served me well in general, and I have observed they perform better when teamed up with fatter rubber (Bridgestone Turanza 185/70 in my case). Have you been driving a Swift with stock 165/80 tyres?

About the rattles, I would like to say that damping on doors does help reduce these as well as the overall road noise. Its a must on the Swift, the driving pleasure goes up a few notches!!!
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