This might just be India's quickest accelerating Maruti Suzuki Swift!

Abhay Verma Updated: April 23, 2018, 07:45 PM IST

Tuner cars interest almost everyone into automobiles. And why not – buying a sportscar to satiate you need for speed is no big deal if you have the money, but the joy of building your own fast car is a lot more involving and of course, a lot less expensive. Shopping online for parts, making sure you have the correct codes for the parts, spending weekends at a garage smelling the fuel, listening to the turbo whistle, that louder exhaust note… The list is virtually endless, no?

This Maruti Suzuki Swift runs the old Baleno sedan's 1.6-litre petrol engine with a bolt-on turbocharger and is quicker than a few German performance cars on track

Not to mention, that feeling of beating an expensive European performance car in a small Japanese tuner! Talking about tuner cars in India, the Maruti Suzuki Swift needs no introduction as one of the most popular ones in the country. The Swift has always been looked upon as an enthusiast car with its kind of sprightly performance, nimble handling and light weight. So apart from finding favour with family car buyers, it has also been received well by tuners. In fact such is its popularity that modified Swifts dot the roads of almost every metro city in our country.

While some go in for basic mods like aftermarket headlights, alloys, wide body kits, sticker jobs and what not but some owner go in for serious engine mods to eke out that last PS of power from the engine. I've in fact seen some Swifts heavy mods – cars that have won races on track in the Indian National Touring Car Championship and ones that have butchered the egos of German performance cars owners in quarter mile drag races! Call it co-incidence or what, around the same time that the third generation Swift was launched at the 2018 Auto Expo, I got an opportunity to test – what the owner claims is – India's quickest accelerating Swift!

The Maruti Suzuki Swift is widely hailed as one of the most popular tuner cars in the country, apart from being one of India's most loved hatchbacks

I've driven a few fast cars and then some, but a claim like that had my ears perk up. Drive it I had to. So VBOX in tow, I met the owner, Achintya Mehrotra and his matte black Maruti Suzuki Swift (first generation, 2009 VXI model) on a cold winter morning in Delhi. He has named it 'Turbo Kat' and has been working on the car for a couple of years now. One look at the car and you know this isn't your regular Swift – the stickering, skirts and lighters body panels all scream tuner car.

Unlike many who put on a gazillion stickers to ape race cars, a lot of the stickers here belong to Achintya's sponsors – a motorsport regular, he has raced in the Volkswagen Polo Cup, is a regular at the BIC and competes in the national autocross championship. His Swift was originally powered by the 1.3-litre G13B engine that produced 87PS. Achintya started off with a full-system freeflow exhaust before sending the car to FRK Racing in Bengaluru in 2015. FRK is known for building race and rally cars and is a popular tuning house well.

In its current avatar this modified Maruti Suzuki Swift weighs just 920kg without the driver as the interiors have been stripped bare to reduce weight

A turbocharger was slapped on at FRK along with a host of other modifications including a LSD (limited slip differential), coil over suspension, a stage 1 clutch from Exedy, Fidanza flywheel and a custom ECU from Race Dynamics. Achintya says what makes the Swift so good as a tuner car is the easy availability and affordability of bolt-on aftermarket performance parts. The mods helped him shave off precious seconds at the BIC, but as they say, the itch really is perennial when comes to going faster.

So the car was sent back to FRK where the 1.3-litre engine was swapped for the old Baleno sedan's inline four-cylinder 1.6-litre engine (codename G16B). He says being able to fit the bigger engine with barely any modifications was not a challenge, which also underlines the ease with which one can modify the Swift. A new Borg Warner turbocharger and intercooler with new hose pipes were added, which is when he gave it the name Turbo Kat. He also wanted some show to match the go and went in for a matte black paint job, skirts and a body kit.

Cut-slick tyres from MRF offer massive grip levels and are mounted onto lighter, 15-inch alloy rims from Enkei that have helped in reducing the car's unsprung weight, which is a direct advantage on the race track

Of course, modifying the engine alone doesn't make a car fast so front and rear strut braces, a sway bar and under brace, lighter Enkei rims, slotted rotors (stock diameter) and Z-type brake pads from Dixcel were all added. The result was a lap time of 2 minutes, 30.3 seconds which he says is 7 seconds quicker than his best time with the 1.3! Achintya has been making minor modifications himself as well and in fact has started his own brand for performance parts by the name of AM Racing. The car currently runs a 6PSI boost which is also ideal for street use he says. In fact, he says without the LSD the car can easily become a daily driver.

He's currently stripped the car entirely though – the rear doors and windows, rear bench, boot lid have been chucked away to reduce weight and the car currently weighs just 920kg. If you haven't realised yet, I've saved the best bits for the end, the performance numbers! Strapping myself into the five-point harness of the race seat I turned the engine on and was greeted by an impressive exhaust note – it wasn't not overly loud but sounded sporty enough to clear the car's intent. Blips of the throttle made the turbo whistle from the HKS blow-off valve audible enough to be heard inside, and then holding a steady 2200rpm, I dumped the clutch.

The first generation Maruti Suzuki Swift's 1.3-litre, four cylinder petrol engine, codenamed G13B has been replaced by the bigger, 1.6-litre engine (codename G16B) that powered the old, Maruti Suzuki Baleno sedan in India. A BorgWarner turbocharger has been slapped on as well

The frenzy with which the engine hit its redline in first gear caught me unawares and I hit the redline too soon. I could see Achintya in the distance, chuckling at my bewildered look. I smiled and prepared better, launching the car again. The car accelerated furiously – unlike any other Swift I've driven till date – and I just about managed to shift up at the right time. The result? 0-60kmph was dispatched in just 3.5 seconds while the 0-100kmph on the VBOX display was 7.6 seconds! That's well over 6 seconds quicker than a stock petrol Swift and seriously quick! That is in the same league as some of the faster German luxury sedans in fact.

There was some amount of turbo lag under 2,000rpm, expectedly, but beyond that the car indeed felt like a cat – pouncing ahead like a feline jumping on its prey. And preying on bigger, more expensive cars at the race track is its favourite job says Achintya, with its kind of mechanical grip, the grip from the tyres and of course the car's handling. His current lap time at the BIC is around 2 minutes, 27 seconds, which is comparable to the lap times of cars like the Audi TT and BMW Z4 that cost well over Rs 60 lakh. Need I say more? That's the beauty of the Swift I guess – a car that's loved the world over for being a spacious, comfortable and reliable hatchback while also being one that has represented Suzuki in the World Rally Championship!

A 0-100kmph time of 7.6 seconds is extremely quick for a Maruti Suzuki Swift and the owner, Achintya Mehrotra claims his car is the quickest Swift in the country

Photography by Anis Shaikh

Price (Ex-Delhi)
Starts Rs 5.73 Lakhs
Max Power(ps)
Max Torque(Nm)
21.21 Kmpl