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New Zealand's most affordable petrol/electric hybrid is here

The most affordable new petrol/electric car in New Zealand has been launched by Suzuki with the arrival of the Swift Hybrid.

Offered in GLX and LTD grades of specification, the all new Hybrid adds another dimension to the top selling Swift range, majoring on exceptional fuel economy and low emissions.

The self-charging Hybrid equipped Swift is powered by a new petrol engine and assisted by a compact and high performance 12-volt lithium-ion battery. The lightweight package adds only 25 kg to the car’s curb weight without compromising interior spaciousness or usability.

Its simplicity of operation and low requirement for servicing or overhaul make this the ideal hybrid system for a small car, unlike many more powerful hybrids or plug-in hybrid models.

Suzuki pioneered the system known as Smart Hybrid Vehicle by Suzuki or SHVS four years ago and it has just become available as a hybrid to the New Zealand market.

The manufacturer claims an improvement of 15 percent in fuel economy, making it the most economical Swift model sold here. In addition, CO2 emissions drop by a generous 25 percent, from 110 grams/km to 94 grams/km.

Suzuki’s official combined fuel cycle consumption for the Swift Hybrid CVT automatic is 4.1 litres/100 km, compared to 4.8 litres/100 km for the Swift GL CVT automatic.

Both Swift Hybrid models also boast higher levels of safety, further underpinning the highly competitive retail pricing of $26,500 for the GLX version and $28,500 for the LTD. This makes the GLX Hybrid the least expensive new petrol-electric car in New Zealand.

The parallel hybrid, or mild hybrid, uses a motor to support fuel-consuming standing starts and acceleration and with the automatic stop-start the petrol engine is shut down when the car is stationary in traffic or stopped at other times while the vehicle is in use. Under braking, once the Swift reaches 15 km/h or less the engine stops and fuel is saved. If the accelerator pedal is pressed before making a complete stop, ISG quickly and almost imperceptibly restarts the engine.

SHVS combines a belt-driven integrated starter generator (ISG) and the 10Ah lithium-ion battery with the ISG acting as both a generator and starter motor. It recharges the battery with electricity generated by deceleration, stops unnecessary power generation during cruising and reduces engine load during fuel-consuming standing starts and acceleration by providing motor assist.

During acceleration the ISG uses stored power to drive the motor and further improves fuel efficiency. The long-life lithium-ion battery stores electrical energy recovered from deceleration and braking while the integrated starter generator operates the idle stop/stop function.

In place of the 1,242 cm3 displacement K12C petrol engine, the Hybrid has a new over-square, 4-cylinder, 1,197 cm3 K12D engine with a shorter stroke. While the 61 kW K12D has a slightly smaller capacity it has the benefit of assistance from the ISG system and maximum engine torque of 107 Nm is achieved at 2,800 rpm instead of the standard Swift’s maximum torque at 4,400 rpm.

The engine has revised breathing and a new variable valve technology system with electrically operated inlet valve timing where previously there was hydraulic operation. A higher compression ratio of 13.0 to 1 and other changes means the Hybrid motor requires 95RON octane petrol or greater.

“A new electrically driven thermostat means the engine warms up quicker for reduced fuel consumption and the twin injectors fire a fine spray for a better fuel-air mix,” said Rodney Brown, Technical Services Manager of Suzuki New Zealand. “There is clever engine management for this under stressed motor which has better temperature control around the combustion chambers.”

Located under the front passenger’s seat for better weight distribution, together with the control unit, the lithium-ion battery has an efficient regeneration rate that increases engine assist and frequency. Besides assisting the engine, the battery powers various electric parts, including engine electronics, the speedometer, air conditioning, audio and Bluetooth and smartphone connectivity.

Starting or accelerating require large amounts of fuel so the ISG electric motor function assists the engine for a maximum of about 30 seconds, suppressing fuel consumption by easing the burden on the engine. When cruising, electricity generated from deceleration supplies power to electronics and the engine is devoted to driving the wheels to enhance fuel efficiency.

Drivers are able to observe the changes between electric assistance and petrol operation via the handy Hybrid graphics in the instrument cluster, allowing them to keep track of how the car is operating at any given time. Other available instrument graphics show the amount of fuel saved, how much idle stop time has amassed, instant and average fuel consumption.

When decelerating or coasting, the system checks the charge status of both the lead-acid battery and lithium-ion battery and recharges the batteries as needed. When battery charge is sufficient, instead of generating electricity, engine power is solely used for driving.

The electrified Swift Hybrid features a new grille pattern and in line with the advanced power train, both GLX and LTD models are comprehensively equipped as standard. They each boast adaptive cruise control, LED projector and auto levelling headlamps, advanced forward detection system, front fog lamps, reverse camera, speed limiter, hill hold control, brake override system, heated mirrors and tyre pressure monitoring.

Both model grades have 16-inch aluminium alloy wheels and GLX is equipped with Radar Brake Support. LTD grade adds lane departure warning and prevention, door mirror blind spot monitor indicator, Dual-Sensor Brake Support, rear parking sensors and rear cross traffic alert.

Suzuki expects half of all Swift Hybrid sales in New Zealand will be to fleet and business customers. Even so, 24 percent of all new Swift sales are likely to be Hybrid models.

The eco Suzuki Hybrids are additional to the full range of Swift variants although the 1.2 GLX petrol model is being phased out.

“Suzuki has long been highly regarded for producing fuel efficient cars and with the introduction of the Swift Hybrid this reputation is further enhanced. Here is a car for changing times while retaining the character, fun and practicality that has made the Swift an enduring favourite,” said Gary Collins, General Manager of Marketing for Suzuki New Zealand LTD.