Today was a bad day, in a weird sort of way. Well, it was freaking hot and travelling in a non-aircon cab is not my idea of fun. Especially when you call a cab for nine and it comes for ten and then almost kills you on your way to your meeting. And then the man you're supposed to meet takes another hour to meet you, whats worse, since it's 'you' who asked for the meeting and the man is the managing director of the country's largest auto maker you can't do much. So there I am, in the middle of the stockyard of Maruti Udyog Limited, with a lot of dirty cars thanks to the rain yesterday in Gurgava.
But, the new Swift that MUL is launching soon is a good looking car, very good looking, I mean by Maruti car standards. Even Jaggu Dada admitted that calling the car, "not Japanese", Saito, Maruti's top Suzuki man, said "Maruti cars velly good, but bowling, this is an individualistic car." (I have no idea how Saito-san pulled off individualistic, but his English is a lot better than a lot of Jap or Korean execs). The problem with the Swift is not the looks - which are in a weird sort of way - like a new Mini on a baseball-esque steroid diet.
See what I mean.
Maruti is pitching this as the 'Big' small car, somewhat like a Palio and Indica size and it will go head to head with the Hyundai Getz. Problem one, it has less space than an Indica at the back, especially with the seat pushed all the way back. I'm 5'11" and to put it mildly slightly stout and it was a problem getting out. Y'see the floor of the car is a good 35mm below the door level and getting out is a problem. But then again, the car is wide, lots of ass space. Rear boot, well hatch, um, not too bad, but again the loading area is rather high - big 175/70R14 tyres (all JKTyre - surprising!). The Maruti engine range tends to be more exciting than that of Hyundai, so I'm pretty sure that the Swift with the 84bhp 1.3 unit will easily outgun the getz and the Indica and Palio too.
The trump card with the Swift however may not be this year though. That will happen when Maruti gets their new 1.3 diesel mill. This common rail unit will make the Swift go head on with the Indica and given that both will have next to nothing maint costs, that should be fun for Mister T. And I'll let you know a little secret, Mister T is pushing for an excise cut (or removal) on the "One Lakh Car", he also wants certain safety norms removed. The interesting thing is that if the government (being a part owner of Maruti with a 18 percent stake still) removed all excise on the 800, that car would cost only Rs 1.3 lakh. Hmmm.....