The Indian Car of The Year [ICOTY] is to Indian automotive world what the World Cup is to cricket – the most prestigious trophy without which any win has only so much meaning. Like the cricket world cup, ICOTY is hard to win and yet Maruti Suzuki Swift has won the title not once, not twice but thrice – 2006, 2012 and 2019.

What makes the Swift unbeatable?

“This car does a wonderful job of balancing the often-conflicting demands made upon every small car—price, size, performance, economy, flair and versatility. The car conveys a sense of purpose, individuality and dynamism. Stand out styling, driver-focused dynamics, exciting performance, fuel efficiency and value-for-money pricing—[make Swift] an unbeatable package,” was the conclusion of judges while awarding Swift the 2006 ICOTY award.

What the judges said of Swift in 2006 holds true for the 2012 and 2019 awards as well; Swift continues to be fun-to-drive yet fuel-efficient, sharply styled, practical and feature-packed yet attractively priced. It is one of the rare products that are both ‘just for you’ and yet ‘for everyone’.

And it is this formula that has helped Swift beat the competition each time it has entered the ring. Let’s look at what it has been up against in each bout.

ICOTY 2019

The ICOTY award is given from amongst the cars launched in the previous year [in this case 2018] till November 30th. Now, 2018 saw launches of some very formidable cars: Honda went to the drawing board and completely refreshed its Amaze.

Hyundai put serious effort as it brought back the car that had launched the Korean carmaker in India, the Santro. Other contenders were Marazzo and Alturas G4 from Mahindra & Mahindra, Yaris from Toyota and CR-V from Honda.

Swift brushed them all aside. The margin of victory was 30 points. Honda Amaze finished second while Hyundai Santro took the third spot.

The 2018 Swift has retained its old virtues and then added some new ones.It is more spacious in the rear and has a bigger boot. The interiors are much more upmarket with an infotainment system that comes with both Apple Carplay and Android Auto. Airbags are standard across variants and the option of AMT (Auto Gear Shift as per the brand) too is available.

To top it all,the Swift comes at an attractive price range. The VXi model,which has pretty much all the features you really need, is Rs. 6.19 lakh ex-showroom while its AMT version costs Rs. 6.66 lakh, ex-showroom. The proposition is unbeatable.

ICOTY 2012

Unlike in 2019, in 2012 Swift was challenged directly by Honda Brio. But Swift, with 74 points trounced Honda Brio which managed to get 44 points only. Hyundai Eon finished third with 39 points.

hugs the curves and changes directions with so much agility that it almost tempts you to go quicker”.

This rise in fun quotient fuel efficiency. Once again, the Swift had managed the contradictions – better performance AND better mileage – brilliantly. What more could buyers ask for?

ICOTY 2006

The first gen Swift was what began India’s love affair with this iconic hatchback.The first gen Swift was the first affordable car that was more than just a ‘mode of conveyance’.

As a result, a large number of people could now buy a car that looked good and was genuinely fun-to-drive. India had its own Mino Cooper or Beetle. In fact, Swift single-handedly spawned the premium hatchback segment.

Its competition was the mighty Toyota Innova which had replaced the Toyota Qualis. The other battle was with the aggressively priced Ford Fiesta and the more spacious Hyundai Getz.Neither Fiesta nor Getz had the performance or fuel efficiency of the Swift. Innova was a strong offering but was expensive. It was an easy pick for ICOTY jury the first time they evaluated the Swift. And that love affair continues to this day.

These three wins make it a 100 percent win rate for Swift. That’s because each time a new generation of Swift has been launched, it has been declared the Indian Car of The Year. What makes this an astounding achievement is the fact that no other car has won the award twice. Talk about a clean sweep!