Predicting the future of car design

Predicting the future of car design


When it comes to designing a new Suzuki vehicle, the customer always comes first.

Consider the evolution of the Swift over the past 20 years and it reinforces the remarkable insight of Suzuki’s design team and its ability to accurately predict future trends.

Put yourself in the shoes of a car designer, sketching plans for a car that will go on sale in three to four years. Now, consider the speed with which technology has changed the demands for modern customers.

When the last version of the 2000 Suzuki Swift went on sale, no-one had heard of an iPod, much less an iPhone, Bluetooth sounded like the name of a Disney pirate character and touchscreen satellite navigation was an option available only in a handful of European luxury sedans.

With the proliferation of light cars in today’s market, it’s easy to overlook what a pioneer Suzuki has been in this now dominant market segment.

Leading the way

In 2000, the Swift was essentially the only player in the market it started, with a car slightly smaller than most and offering outstanding fuel economy and reliability.

As was the norm for smaller cars back then, the feature list could only be described as spartan. That car boasted power windows and mirrors and a four-speaker cassette AM/FM sound system.

At that time, Suzuki designers were hard at work on the next generation, which took the world by storm in 2005 with its mix of design, interior space, reliability and performance.

The engineers had listened to the demands from customers for more creature comforts, with the list of standard features on the S model including six airbags, ABS brakes, a six-speaker CD stereo system with steering wheel-mounted controls, and remote keyless entry.

Fast forward to 2014 and the latest version of Suzuki’s top-seller now comes with a five-star suite of safety features, such as electronic stability control and seven airbags. Creature comforts include a 6.1-inch touchscreen satellite navigation system with hands-free voice activation and Bluetooth streaming.

Constant communication

“The latest Swift demonstrates the importance of customer feedback to us,” says Suzuki Australia Automobile General Manager Tony Devers.

“We take great pride in ensuring our dealer network is constantly talking with customers about what features they like in their car and what they would like to see. We send every piece of information back to head office.

“By constantly listening to our loyal customers and being ahead of the game, it means we can offer a car like the Swift with satellite navigation for such an outstanding price.”

Bluetooth with audio streaming through the high-quality stereo system in the entry-level GL model means customers can make the most of online music services like Spotify or Pandora. Move up to the GL Navigator and the touchscreen provides constant information on the artist, album art and even weather forecasts when listening to digitally equipped radio stations!

So what does the future hold? New advances in safety coupled with even more sophisticated levels of communication look set to ensure the ongoing evolution of Suzuki cars is looking very promising indeed.

Swift upgrades in 2014

The Suzuki Swift enjoys a remarkable presence in the Australian market, with industry surveys showing that more than 90 per cent of prospective new car customers recognise the name and the shape. Consequently, the ongoing changes to the look of the Swift are evolutionary rather than revolutionary.

In the words of Chief Engineer Naoyuki Takeuchi, the Swift’s design philosophy “is to not be affected by trends, but rather to build a timeless shape”.

In its latest iteration, the 2014 Swift GL and GLX have been released with a revised front fascia and grille inserts, plus a new wheel cover design for the GL. The GLX also gets a new alloy wheel and LED daytime running lamps.

The GL is now the entry-level model and comes standard with cruise control, leather steering wheel with audio controls and factory-integrated Bluetooth phone with audio streaming.

A new Navigator model is the next in the range, adding Suzuki’s 6.1-inch satellite navigation touchscreen and front fog lamps over the entry-level GL.

In addition to standard satellite navigation, the range-topping Swift GLX comes complete with digital climate control air-conditioning, keyless entry and start, and telescopic steering adjustment.

The GL, Navigator and GLX models’ 70kW/130Nm 1.4-litre petrol engine is unchanged, with a choice of five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmissions delivering five-star fuel economy.

The 2014 Suzuki Swift range maintains its five-star safety rating, with seven airbags, ABS, EBD, brake assist and electronic stability control standard in all models.

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