For its 10th anniversary on the American market, the American Suzuki Motor Corp. has succumbed to the philosophy that "Bigger is better."Its Swift hatchback has been redesigned for 1995, with the three-door's wheelbase extended 3.9 inches, the overall length 2 inches and the height 2.3 inches.Even with these new dimensions, the car still resides securely in the subcompact class, complete with new styling and exceptionally high gas mileage.The Swift finds its niche as a commuter automobile. Its small size offers maneuvering advantages in heavy traffic, the convenience of parking in crowded conditions and low operating costs. Some comfort enhancements are related to its increased size."We've not received them as yet," said Tom O'Brien, sales manager for Speedway Subaru- Suzuki. "I'm going to say we'll get our first ones in a couple of weeks."They're going to be the consummate small car, what with standard air bags and optional anti-lock brakes."Japan's Suzuki Motor Corp., which manufactures the Swift passenger car for American Suzuki, also manufactures the Geo Metro coupe for General Motors. While the two cars are similar in body design, there are differences in specifications.With a 1.3-liter four-cylinder engine, vs. the Metro coupe's 1.0-liter three-cylinder, the Swift has greater horsepower and torque.As four-cylinder, single overhead cam engines go, the Swift engine is an advanced piece of engineering, offering 70 horsepower from 79.2 cubic inches of displacement. With the car weighing 1,856 pounds with a manual five-speed transmission, or 1,911 pounds with an optional three-speed automatic, 70 horses will provide some sparking performance.It won't make you king of the drag strip, but for a touch over an $8,600 base price, you shouldn't expect to run with Corvettes. Besides, you can't get 39 miles per gallon in the city and 43 mpg on the highway from a Vette.The light weight also allows the precise rack-and-pinion steering to be manual, even though the car has front-wheel drive. Standard braking for the Swift's front disc and rear drum brakes is power-assisted, with an anti-lock system offered as an option.The car rides on all-season P155/80R 13-inch rubber tires that anchor the hatchback right now when a driver jumps on the brakes. The anti-lock system will reassure the driver, especially under slippery conditions.Styling a small hatchback so it doesn't look like a metal box on wheels is no easy task. But with the increase in dimensions in the 1995 Swift, stylists have given the car's lines some flow.A low, rounded, aerodynamic front end blends into a steeply raked windshield. Flush glass and side paneling continue a flowing theme rearward.Even the rear door is contoured instead of hacked off. It's a shape that slides through the air with minimum drag.The Swift is a four-seater in the truest sense. Of interest is the car's 42.5 inches of front-seat legroom, the equivalent of a number of midsized au tomobiles.The back seat is another story. There's a 10-inch drop in legroom, and that makes traveling in the rear a tight fit for full- sized adults.Suzuki says the Swift is easy to drive across town or across country. Well, we'd buy the across-town thesis. But I'd have some comfort trepidations about striking out for California.The interior has fairly shallow front bucket seats separated by a center console with the transmission shift lever. Standard driver and passenger-side air bags are provided.Its a rather well put-together little car, with additional standard equipment including a rear-window defogger, intermittent two-speed wipers and washers, a trip meter, tint glass, a console tray with cup holders and front door pockets for small items.SThe Swift functions well as an entry-level car for first-time buyers, with O'Brien noting that the best seller is a stick-shiftmodel."We get a lot of graduate college students and young couples," he said. "It makes a nice pac kage for them to get started with." 1995 Suzuki Swift Base price: $8,699.Type: Front engine, front-drive, four-passenger, subcompact hatchback.Engine: 1.3 liters, OHV 4, 8 valves, fuel-injected, 70 horsepower, 74 foot-pounds of torque.Transmission: Five-speed manual.Mileage: 39 mpg city, 43 mpg highway.Acceleration: 0-60 mph in 12.0 seconds (estimated)Wheelbase: 93.1 inches.Length: 149.4 inches.Width: 62.6 inches.Height: 54.7 inches.Curb weight: 1,856 pounds.Options: Air conditioning, AM/FM stereo with cassette, armrests, front mask, floor mats.
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