The Suzuki Swift Sport is the supreme winner of the latest annual AMI NZ Autocar Car of the Year in the wake of further New Zealand sales success.
Final judging day for the 25 year old award at the Clevedon Hotel south of Auckland in February saw the popular five-door Swift Sport earn the overall title from six category winners after more than 130 vehicles were tested. Judges said the Sport was the new affordable benchmark that did so much right.
This latest accolade came within days of the Swift hatchback being named Indian Car of the Year for 2019. Swift is a three times winner of the Indian award and the first car to achieve this for every generation of model.
Judging criteria for the New Zealand award considered design, performance, driving dynamics, practicality and value. The Swift Sport was winner of the performance category and then rated best of the six finalists for the overall title.
Kyle Cassidy, NZ Autocar magazine editor and chief judge, said the scoring system weighted towards a vehicle’s particular strengths in order that a supermini could be compared fairly with a six-figure luxury contender.
Judges said the lively Swift Sport was a mild mannered commuter in the city with a turbocharged engine, balancing fuel economy with ease of driving, but then it delivered “a thrilling performance when you want it”.
Cassidy said the car was simply fun to drive. “It’s styled to impress, as does the level of standard specifications and safety gear,” he said. “That it all costs less than $30,000 and comes with a 5-Star ANCAP safety rating is amazing.”
The Sport derivative of the Swift has long been a popular seller but arrival of the new turbocharged version last year has resulted in a huge boost in demand. In 2017 the Swift Sport accounted for 15.1 per cent of all new Swift models sold in New Zealand and the introduction of the new and highly efficient 1.4 litre turbo version in 2018 resulted in the Sport capturing 32.9 per cent of Swift sales for last year.
Demand for all Swift models last year increased by more than 25 per cent over 2017, while the high performance Sport sales leapt by more than 173 per cent to record levels.
Strong interest and consumer acceptance for the Swift Sport has continued this year with January sales the second biggest since the model’s launch.
“Keen and enthusiastic drivers have special enthusiasm for the Swift Sport with almost one in every three buyers choosing the manual gearbox version in New Zealand over the past two years,” said Gary Collins, general manager of automobile marketing for Suzuki New Zealand. “This is an unusually high level when most new car buyers now opt for automatic or continuously variable automatic transmissions.”
Six versions of the Swift are available in New Zealand and the model is the biggest seller in the light car class as well as being one of the favourite choices for private new car buyers.
It is the best selling Suzuki model and was a critical factor in Suzuki being named the perennial reliability champion in a recent independent British survey. Suzuki was rated first for reliability, ahead of Lexus, Toyota, Mitsubishi and Subaru.