Expert Reviews

First Drive: Suzuki Swift

Friday 24 March 2017

First Drive: Suzuki Swift
Summary

Suzuki is hoping that its third-generation Swift will be able to compete with the likes of the Ford Fiesta and Hyundai. The brand is aiming to take the car into the top-10 portion of the B-segment market, offering better build quality and a more involving drive than ever before.

The new car benefits from the 1.0-litre Boosterjet engine that we first saw in the Baleno and S-Cross, while the level of standard equipment on offer has been raised. The car has also shed an impressive 120kg in bodyweight.

Looks & Image

When it was first released, many people were unsure about the Swift’s styling. Rounder and softer than the car it replaced, it appeared to have lost some of the sporting spirit of the previous-generation.

However, when in the metal the Swift is a rather attractive car. It’s grown-up looks-wise, but it’s an appearance which fits well within the segment.

Inside, the Swift follows on from the previous cars usage of low-cost materials, with some scratchy plastics dotted throughout the cabin. That said, it’s still a good place to be – and you do have to remember that it’s a relatively low-cost compact car after all.

Space & Practicality

Those sat inside the Swift have little to complain about, as it’s a surprisingly spacious little car with plenty of head and legroom – especially for those sat in the front.

That said, those in the back of the car are also given a decent amount of space despite the new Swift being 10mm shorter than the car it replaces. There’s a plenty of room for those sat in the rear seats, even if there’s a taller passenger up front.

Behind the Wheel

From launch, the Swift is available with two different petrol engines. The first is the previously mentioned 1.0-litre three-cylinder Boosterjet engine that has featured in other Suzuki cars. It produces 110bhp and 170Nm of torque, which allows the Swift to reach 60mph in a respectable 10.4 seconds when paired with a manual gearbox. It’s not electrifying performance by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s enough allow the Swift to make steady forward progress in all situations.

Our test car came fitted with Suzuki’s ‘mild hybrid’ system known as SHVS. It offers a slight boost in performance over the regular engine, while upping fuel economy figures, rising to 65.7mpg from the standard unit’s 61.4mpg. Emissions are bettered too, falling to 97g/km from 104g/km. Though a capable little motor, under hard acceleration the Boosterjet can feel strained, which makes the Swift a little less relaxing to drive.

There’s also a 1.2-litre four-cylinder engine available, producing 89bhp with 120Nm of torque. It’ll reach 60mph in 11.7 seconds too, and it’s also available with the same ‘mild hybrid’ found on the Boosterjet unit.

While the Swift certainly hasn’t got the most amount of power, its small size and relatively low weight of 840kg means that it’s hugely entertaining to drive. The steering is light but purposeful, allowing you to place the car just where you want it. The notchy five-speed gearbox is a delight to use, too.

When going through faster corners a fair amount of bodyroll is noticeable, but it never leaves you wanting for more grip. Rough surfaces on our French test route did cause the car to bounce around a fair amount, however.

The Swift even feels composed at motorway speeds. While there is a fair amount of wind noise when travelling more quickly, it isn’t enough to be exhausting.

Value for Money

Unfortunately, Suzuki is yet to announce any formal pricing structure for the new Swift.

Trim levels follow the traditional Suzuki format, with entry-level SZ3 at the bottom, followed by T and top-of-the-range SZ5. Even base-spec cars get Bluetooth connectivity, DAB digital radio and daytime running lights. Air conditioning and privacy glass is thrown in too. Go up a spec to SZ-T and you’ll see a rear-view reversing camera included, alongside 16-inch alloy wheels. Suzuki predicts that this middle-ground specification will be the most popular in the UK.

Top-spec SZ5 models receive satellite navigation, automatic air conditioning, adaptive cruise control and LED headlamps.

Who would buy one ?

Though Suzuki’s ideal buyer for the Swift would appear to be a young, trendy new driver, the reality is that it’ll have to appeal to anyone if it has any chance of entering the top-10 of the B-segment – not just those who have recently passed their tests. 

Those just becoming familiar of driving with appreciate the Swift’s unintimidating character, while family owners will also enjoy the Swift’s neat around-town handling and good levels of practicality.

Facts at a Glance

Model: Suzuki Swift SZ5 1.0 Boosterjet SHVS
Price as tested: TBA
Engine: 1.0 Boosterjet SHVS
Power: 110bhp
Torque: 170Nm
Max speed: 121mph
0-60mph: 10.4 seconds
MPG: 65.7 combined
Emissions: 97g/km

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