For almost a decade now the scooter segment has been dominated by the Honda Activa – a no-frills, metal-bodied, auto gearbox scooter. Not very different from similar scooters that were in the market before it, but the Activa's combination of quality, reliability and easy-maintenance met the expectations of buyers looking for similar attributes.

The other two-wheeler manufacturers have tried their hand too at cracking this segment. They are all relatively new entrants into the segment. Suzuki has tasted some success with its scooter – Access 125. This scooter presented similar promises to the buyer and has recorded better sales numbers across regions.

But surely, the scooter market has evolved and matured to a point where buyers are now a bit more style conscious too, while they continue to appreciate and take for granted the above mentioned reliability attribute in any new scooter. The Access was the lone product in the scooter category from Suzuki and it was more appealing to older buyers.

Design

A bit more of a stylish scooter that has the necessary ingredients to pull in the younger buyer was missing in Suzuki Motorcycle India's portfolio. This is where the new Swish will step in. If you parked this new scooter right next to the Access, the differences in their lines and overall design may not be very stark, but small changes together manage to contribute to an overall youthful impression about the new Swish.

If the idea was to become more attractive to the sneakers and shorts generation, the Swish should manage that quite well. A new body-colour palette, a dual-tone colour theme, ‘swishy' decals on the panels and a more snazzy rear design are all features in the Swish that would be appreciated by those in the 25-35 year old age group.

The Swish also sports ABS plastic/ fibre body panels, managing to lower the weight of the new scooter by about 5 per cent compared to the Access. With these body panels it should also be cheaper to replace than to repair and maintain metal panels. The other staples from this segment are all there such as the aluminium grab rail at the rear, the matte-finished silencer cover, smart decals and logo display, a blue-backlit instrument cluster and alloy foot pegs. Though the front of the new Swish looks familiar, the rear of the scooter is fairly unique with a new design rear combination tail-lamp. The grooved front panel and the integrated turn signals on either side add a touch of sportiness to the Swish.

Fit and finish quality is good overall. The electricals and knobs are very similar to the ones found in the other scooters in the market, which is a bit of a let down. The underseat storage too isn't very generous and at about 20-litres it barely manages to accommodate a helmet.

Performance

The new Swish carries forward the same 124cc, four-stroke, single cylinder engine from the Access. The CVT auto gearbox is also shared with the older scooter. The engine's power output is a similar 8.5 bhp at 7,000 rpm. And the engine also manages to generate a peak torque of 9.8Nm at 5,000 rpm in the Swish. These are very respectable performance numbers for a scooter in the 100cc to 125cc segment. The segment average is 8bhp and about 8.5Nm.

The difference in the Swish is, of course, a bit more pronounced than in the Access, due to its slightly lower weight. During the testing period, the Swish we had proved to be clearly the sprightly one. It was quicker to accelerate from a standstill and also seemed to have enough torque mid-range compared to the Dio and the Activa that we have been using over the past few years.

Yes, the Swish, like the Access has a 14cc size advantage, but that is not really very significant. The engine sounds-like and feels-like the mills that some of the other scooters in the segment. CVT auto transmission is smooth and the fuel efficiency that we could wring from out of the Swish was about 40 kmpl over our two-week test period. Some new Swish owners we talked to claimed that they were managing about 45 kmpl.

The ride position in the Swish is as upright as the Access and the Activa. The seat height is at 780mm. Riding the Swish was more comfortable because we could hold the handle bar better due to slimmer throttle and brake holders. The ride is comfortable overall on smooth tarmac. However, while the ride is still fairly pliable on simple undulations on the road, it can get a bit harsh on very bad roads, even though the front telescopic forks try hard to dampen the ride. The overall ride quality is still better than most other scooters in the market.

The Swish features 120mm drum brakes at the front and the rear wheels. Braking is effective at low to mid-range speeds of upto 45 kmph. However, emergency braking at speeds over 55 to 60 kmph didn't inspire confidence because the rear tended to wag and step out. Quick counter correcting is necessary to keep the scooter under control.

Bottomline

The Swish is certainly a step up for Suzuki's prospects in the scooter segment. Now there is a stylish, younger-looking scooter that can help Suzuki take on the new and emerging competition. Priced at Rs 46,000 to Rs 50,000 depending on the city, the Swish is slightly more expensive than the competitors in the smaller engine class. But, it has reliability, performance and the looks on its side now.

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