With good looks, a quality feel, and fun to drive character, DAVID HOOPER, editor of wheelworldreviews.co.uk, says Suzuki’s new Swift is a little cracker
WHEN the original Suzuki Swift was launched, it gave the brand a massive boost, in a stroke, updating an ageing range of cars and facilitating a massive boost in quality, pitching the new model directly into Mini territory, but for a lot less money.
The car was a big success for Suzuki, and I remember being impressed with it as I drove the new model around the hills above Monte Carlo on the international press launch.
It’s been a while since I’ve driven a Swift, but this latest model has created a similar impression. I am most impressed with this car, which went on sale in the UK in September, with prices starting from £10,210 including the new rate of VAT.
As you would expect, it is longer, wider and taller than its predecessor, and although it looks quite different, is clearly recognisable as a Swift. It’s a great looking car externally, feels well made, and boasts an equally impressive interior which is very nicely styled. The seats are well padded and very comfortable, the driving position good and the design of the dashboard and controls excellent, although I would have preferred a button on the end of the indicator stalk for the trip computer, rather than having to reach round the steering wheel to press what I first thought was the trip meter reset stalk. But that is a minor thing.
While there is enough room in the back for six footers, rear leg room isn’t overly generous. It is at the back of the car, however, where I would direct my harshest criticism.
The boot is disappointingly small, and the load cover isn’t attached to the tailgate, so you have to manually lift it up. It’s only a small thing, but I did find it annoying got clonked on the head by it when I was inspecting the spare wheel, which I discovered to be a space saver. Folding down the rear seats increases the luggage space, but the seat backs sit proud of the boot floor, so the load area isn’t flat.
Driving the new Swift soon makes you forget these issues, it’s a fun little car that’s great to drive, and one I would have no problem recommending to young drivers who can’t afford a Mini. I doubt anyone would be disappointed with a Swift.
I’ve been testing the entry-level 1.2-litre engine which is surprisingly nimble. It’s also very clean, meeting the latest Euro 5 emissions standards which means it emits just 116g/km of C02 and will therefore cost just £30 a year to tax.
The 1.2-litre engine is new and features Dual VVT, or variable valve timing, on both cams, which means it develops more power than a single VVT engine. Although 94PS and a 0-62mph time of 12.3 seconds isn’t exactly blisteringly quick, it’s engaging to drive quickly and certainly feels quicker than the on-paper figures would lead you to believe.
Suzuki has got the balance between performance and economy spot on, because 56.5mpg is possible on the combined cycle, in real world conditions over the week I had the car, a motorway trip to Leeds, and plenty of town work, saw a return of 45mpg, which is fine. If you want more power, you could go for the 1.3-litre engine, or if economy is your thing, a diesel engine joins the range this spring. Automatic, and five-door versions are also available.
There are three trim levels, SZ2, SZ3, a 1.6-litre Sport and the SZ4 I’ve been driving, which comes with climate control and keyless entry and start. You even get a start button! Bluetooth, cruise control, auto headlights and privacy glass are also on the inventory, while the mid-range spec gives you alloys and air con. All models come with seven airbags and ESP as standard.
The new Swift then will quickly add to the 1.65-million sold around the world since 2005 when it first went on sale, with 55,000 of those finding British homes.
I’m a fan – and I think if you drive one, you may well be as well.
THE VITAL STATISTICS
MODEL: Suzuki Swift 1.2 SZ4.
SUZUKI SWIFT RANGE: From SZ2 3-door (£10,210) to SZ4 5-door Auto (£13,525).
ENGINE: 1,242cc, 92PS four-cylinder engine, driving front wheels through 5-speed manual gearbox.
CO2 EMISSIONS: 116g/km.
PERFORMANCE: Top speed 103mph. 0-62mph in 12.3 secs.
ECONOMY: City: 46.3mpg.
Fuel tank: 42 litres.
INSURANCE: Group 9.
WARRANTY: 3 years/60,000 miles.
All data correct at time of publication