Suzuki Swift Review
Suzuki revisit their Swift model with an agile, driver-focused, effort which they hope will upset the market with some big sales targets to match...
- Exceptionally dynamic
- A softcore hybrid
- Torquey little thing
- Laggy touchscreen
- 5-door only
- Plastics aplenty
Suzuki continues their all-out assault on the small-car market with their latest Swift. On sale from June the 1st, with pricing announcements at the end of April, Suzuki hope this model will be hot on the heels of the new Seat Ibiza and the Skoda Fabia. We’ve been told the Swift will be ‘typically 10% cheaper than competitors’, which Suzuki believe will help them achieve their target of selling 20,000 examples in the UK per year. A bold ambition which would put the plucky Swift into the fiercely competitive supermini top-10 sales chart.
A whole new platform with a revitalised design and a pair of new engines, this is a 100% refreshed Swift, and it’s only available as a 5 door - with the hidden rear door handles supporting the coupé looks. Oh, and you can get your roof in black or silver instead of body coloured, which is nice.
On the Road
We tested the Swift model with the 1.0litre ‘BoosterJet’ engine. Forgive the comical name, but this BoosterJet was actually quite a pleasant surprise. It’s another 3 cylinders turbocharged petrol, which have become commonplace in this segment, but it is mated to a pair of electric motors. One situated over the front wheels and one toward the rear. This is a ‘mild-hybrid’ rather than a full eco-warrior. So the batteries work to aid starting the car and getting it moving off the line, they only offer about 3 extra horsepower, but a whole 50Nm of torque - which is really noticeable. The Swift pulls itself along with real haste. It’s not fast, but it’s certainly quick enough in the mid-range to make significant progress. The manufacturer claims that like-for-like, this new model has a 35% improved power to weight ratio over the old model. It certainly feels like it. A 0-60mph time of 11.9 seconds decorates the performance in a poor light, the car feels Swift-er than that. Sorry, had to get that in.
Suzuki were reluctant to tell us when a SwiftSport model will be coming along, but they confirmed that the warm-hatch model definitely is in the works, with an announcement about 6 months before the launch, to be expected in about 6 months time. So it will be here in roughly a years time.
This new model is actually 10mm shorter, 40mm wider and 15mm lower than the outgoing model. It’s also a lot lighter and a really spirited thing to drive, honestly. The car is 10% lighter than the old generation, now tipping the scales at just 890kg in its lightest form. This makes for a car that you can really manhandle around, particularly with the lightning quick steering and ultra precise changes of direction. We took the Swift out through the hills between Nice and Monaco and we were blown away by just how much fun can be had taking this thing through bends at relative pace. It’s not a fast car, but it’s a car that’s great to be driven fast. An agile little thing...
Ride comfort under normal driving isn’t much to shout about, though, it’s on-par with the competition, but you do feel like the British roads will have a good go at the suspension. Not a deal-breaker, by any means, but a smoother and better-dampened ride would have been welcomed.
Like the ride quality, refinement levels aren’t much to shout about. Not bad, not exceptional. Road blemishes judder the car about just as much as you would expect in this segment, and the surrounding plastics don’t help cushion the experience, but the seats are comfortable for long journeys. I spent about 4 hours in the car and never really found myself particularly uncomfortable.
When revving the car, the 3 cylinder unit does sound a bit rattly, but this is a solid little engine and does its job pleasingly without impeding the cabin with any notable pedal shaking or vibrations.
In the car
The model we tested was the top-spec SZ5 trim, with ample gadgets and gizmos for a car of this class. Entry-level cars get DAB radio, Bluetooth connectivity, leather steering wheel and rear privacy glass - which is quite generous when compared to other models in this class. The leather steering wheel is a real treat to handle too.
In the centre console, which is angled at 5 degrees toward the driver for ergonomic reasons, you’ve got a touchscreen which is the home of an unimpressive Navigation system. And the screen also switches to a rear camera when you pop it into reverse. This rearview camera is included in the SZ-T trim level, which Suzuki anticipate will be the most popular selection, while the navigation is only provided in the SZ-5 model.
All the functions and buttons are nice and easy to use, although some buyers might get annoyed with having to control the volume with a touch screen button.
The Swift treads a balanced line. Suzuki believe buying a Swift is the emotional choice, whereas their Baleno is a rational choice, but they’ve clearly listened to the criticisms of the previous model and have increased the boot space by 55 litres, now at a generous 265 litres.
In the cabin, the driver and front passenger will have no moans about leg room, but it’s worth noting that the glovebox is miniature - not sure why they even bothered. Good for a tube of Wine Gums, ‘grab bag’ users may struggle, multipack buyers should look elsewhere.
In the back, you’ll have no troubles fitting two adults over 6 foot. Headroom is still plentiful despite the lower roofline on this model. 3 adults abreast wouldn’t be comfortable for long journeys but kids will have no complaints.
One issue I did notice is that the hidden rear door handle is high in the C-pillar, and small children may struggle to reach it when accessing the car - a significant trade-off for the 3-door looks.
Prices are still yet to be confirmed for the new Swift, with an announcement expected around the end of April. Dealerships will receive display models mid-may and the cars officially go on sale from the 1st of June.
We pushed and pushed for a starting Price, but Suzuki are holding their cards close to their chest on this one, we eventually obtained “in the middle of the Ignis and Baleno” - so roughly £11,000. All Swifts are efficient, but the 1.0 SHVS model is the most economical, returning about 65.7mpg. This model will also be £10 cheaper under the new VED rates, at £130 per year, whereas the 1.2 DualJet will cost £140 a year.
The least economical model will be the 1.0 BoosterJet Automatic, which still offers a comfortable 56.5mpg - not bad at all.
Interior plastics certainly have room for improvement, as they are as lightweight and basic as you would expect, but the design itself is nice and the interior certainly doesn’t feel all that cheap. Quality elsewhere is impressive, though. The doors close with a reassuring thump, the leather steering feels rather premium and all the centre console functions are pleasing to touch - except the touch screen which isn’t as responsive as some others on the market.
The Suzuki brand fares extremely well in terms of reliability - owner reports from 2016 show the manufacturer as one of the most reliable on the market, so you shouldn’t have too much to worry about there.
The Swift is yet to be put through its structural paces on the industry standard Euro NCAP test, but the previous model earned 5 stars in 2010, albeit under slightly less stringent testing.
The forward collision detectors were a bit trigger-happy and intrusive for my liking, but I am easily annoyed when it comes to driver aids. The adaptive cruise control is another feature which owners will enjoy and it is certainly good value in a class where buyers don’t expect an awful lot in terms of safety tech.