Little Suzuki Swift fired up to be giant-slayer
- Credit: Suzuki
Suzuki is looking to take on some big guns in its desire to drive the new Swift into the list of top 10 best-selling superminis. Simon Davis finds out if it's got what it takes.
Suzuki hopes its third-generation Swift will be something of a giant-slayer. With it, the Japanese company is looking to break into the top-10 portion of the B-segment market, and has the likes of the SEAT Ibiza, Skoda Fabia and Hyundai i20 firmly in its sights.
So Suzuki has gone to town on the new Swift – the 1.0-litre turbo petrol Boosterjet engine from the Baleno and S-Cross is available for the first time, standard equipment has been improved and the Swift has lost a considerable 120kg in bodyweight.
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Looks and image
When revealed, many people thought the earlier models' character had been replaced by a rather sober-looking hatchback but, in the metal, it quickly grows on you and it's an attractive little car.
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If you were to sum the feel of the Swift's cabin up in one word, it would have to be 'unpretentious'. It's not the sort of car that's gunning for the position of best in class as far as its interior is concerned, which means you can forgive the abundance of scratchy plastics.
Space and practicality
There won't be many complaints about space – particularly in the front. Headroom is plentiful, and while the Suzuki is a fairly compact little car, it doesn't feel cramped.
And, although the new Swift might be 10mm shorter than its predecessor, headroom has not been compromised in the back, and adults will be able to sit in comfort even if they find themselves behind a taller front passenger.
At 265 litres, boot space is respectable, if not class leading, but it's 25% – 54 litres – more than before and will easily swallow a couple of weekend bags and still leave a fair amount of space to spare.
What's under the bonnet?
Suzuki offers the Swift with a choice of two different petrol engines. The first is the 111PS 1.0-litre, three-cylinder Boosterjet turbo petrol unit, also used in Baleno and S-Cross, and the test car had the 'mild hybrid' SVHS version (Smart Hybrid Vehicle by Suzuki). It offers a slight boost in performance while combined economy improves from 61.4mpg to 65.7mpg and CO2 emissions drop from 104g/km to 97g/km with SHVS compared to the regular engine.
This competent little motor gets the Swift up to speed in a respectable fashion but, under hard acceleration, sounds strained.
A larger 90PS 1.2-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine is also available with the SHVS system for 101g/km CO2 and 62.8mpg combined.
At the wheel
While not a hugely powerful car, thanks to its small size and weighing from 890kg, on a windy road it feels like a go-kart. The light steering allows you to point the Swift where you want with ease, while the notchy five-speed manual has a purposeful feel.
There is some body roll through corners, but the Swift feels grippy and planted. Rough surfaces can make it bouncy but it's well mannered and stable at motorway speeds.
In town, its small proportions make navigating tight, busy streets much easier, as do its light controls.
Value for money
Priced from £10,999 to £15,499, and with good equipment levels, the Swift is a lot of car for the money and is forecast to have decent resale values too.
Entry-level SZ3 cars include Bluetooth connectivity, DAB radio, daytime running lights, air conditioning and privacy glass as standard, while mid-spec SZ-T – expected to be most popular – adds a rear-view camera, front fog lamps, 16in alloy wheels and a smartphone link audio display.
Range-topping SZ5 gains satellite navigation, automatic air conditioning, LED headlights, rear electric windows, adaptive cruise control and a collision warning and emergency braking system.
Who would buy one?
Suzuki's ideal Swift buyer seems to be young, trendy, urban-dwellers but it has to appeal to people from all walks of life if Suzuki wants it to be a top-10 best-selling superminis.
Suzuki can consider the new Swift a job well done. It's not the most exciting car, nor the most luxurious, but its unpretentious, no-nonsense manner is rather charming.
And, with the right pricing, the Swift is shaping up to be quite the success.
SPEC AND TECH
Price: Suzuki Swift SZ5 1.0 Boosterjet SHVS £14,499 (range £10,999 to £15,499)
Engine : 998cc, 111PS, three-cylinder Boosterjet turbo petrol with mild hybrid assist system
Performance: 0-62mph: 10.6 seconds; top speed 121mph
MPG: urban 58.8; extra urban 70.6; combined 65.7 combined
CO2 emissions: 97g/km
Will it fit the garage? L 3,840mm; W 1,735mm; H 1,495mm