The VW Polo-R driver led SS2, SS3 and SS4, despite hitting a tree in the final stage, to open up a 24.2sec advantage on his Norwegian teammate Andreas Mikkelsen with Britain's Kris Meeke third at 28sec in a Citroën DS3.
The classic winter rally, traditionally fought out over kilometres of deep-lying snow, is this year faced instead with mud and gravel.
As a result, the 21 planned stages between Thursday and Sunday have been reduced to 13.
The 1.9km super-special stage, which was to open the race on Thursday night at the Karlstad racecourse, was cancelled with the event put back to Friday.
In total, there will be 240km of timed action rather than the scheduled 330km.