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Suzuki Swift test drive

There is an all-new version of one of Suzuki’s most successful models – does the latest Suzuki Swift tick the essential boxes?

Summary

Good to drive, practical and with loads of equipment, the new Suzuki Swift should be checked out by anyone looking for a new small car
Design
7
Comfort
8
Driving experience
8
Value for money
9
Safety
8

Summary

Good to drive, practical and with loads of equipment, the new Suzuki Swift should be checked out by anyone looking for a new small car

Make and model: Suzuki Swift
Description: Latest all-new version of supermini
Price range: from £18,699 to £21,049

Suzuki says: “The all-new Swift represents an automotive advancement aimed at uplifting the driver through succession, evolution and innovation.”

We say: Practical, more fun than one might expect and with loads of equipment, the new Suzuki Swift is a bit of a gem.


Introduction

Test-driving a new car that is not powered by a fully or mostly electric drivetrain is these days becoming a rare experience. So the new, fourth-generation Suzuki Swift should provide a perhaps refreshing change.

Suzuki calls it a hybrid, but the electric assistance is only of the mild hybrid variety – so it’s basically a supermini powered by a three-cylinder petrol engine. And that’s precisely while Suzuki thinks its newcomer will succeed, arguing that when owners of traditional small cars replace them, they want another petrol-engined small car – neither mini SUVs or EVs interest them, and the prices of the latter are often beyond their means anyway.

But the choices of such cars are declining rapidly, with previously popular models like the Nissan Micra, Kia Rio and – of course – the Ford Fiesta, either on the way out or gone already.

As a result, Suzuki thinks it can attract quite a few more to Swift ownership, with a wider spectrum of potential buyers taking a look at the newcomer. So is it worth that look?   

What is it?

The new Swift is the fourth generation of a model to bear that name. Having been around for some 40 years now, this is a name that seems to have been around as long as Suzuki has been selling cars in the UK.

The previous model had a core of fans who rated it for its affordability, practicality and reliability. Hopefully, they’ll approve of the new one as it follows much the same agenda. It’s a very traditional five-door hatchback supermini, and the ‘small car’ bit is emphasised, as this machine is a little more compact than several rivals.

There’s nothing really that the Swift does differently to the supermini pack, except in one respect – like its predecessor, the new model will be available in both front-wheel and four-wheel drive form. 

Who is this car aimed at?

Suzuki believes the new Swift will sell first to existing owners of the car, and with the brand consistently topping customer satisfaction surveys, you can understand their confidence.

But those who want a small car and are not wanting to or able to go the electric route, and who might previously have looked straight at the likes of the Ford Fiesta, might be attracted to the Swift especially as it offers a great deal for what are often limited budgets. 

Who won’t like it?

Anyone tuned into the EV revolution will find nothing to attract them to this car. And it won’t appeal to those who liked the previous Swift Sport variant either. We’re told that a new Sport might be in the works but not for some time – with a 0-62mph time some five seconds slower, the new model here will be too pedestrian for some Sport owners.  

First impressions

Anyone with any experience of the previous Swift will not find anything to jar the eye in the exterior look of the new one – Suzuki itself admits the visuals are evolutionary, a nip and a tuck there with the aim of more efficient aerodynamics and thus better fuel economy and a little more speed.

One change will please existing Swift owners, however. The rear door handles, which were previously placed vertically in the back of the windowframe, have been returned to their traditional location following, we are told, customer feedback – function triumphing over form. 

What do you get for your money?

This is where the new car will likely most impress – the Suzuki Swift isn’t the cheapest supermini out there but it’s very competitive amongst its major rivals – those that significantly undercut it have been around a goodly while. And when one considers what you get for your just under £19K, it becomes a whole lot more attractive.

We won’t quote the options list because there isn’t one; there are just two trim levels, ‘Motion’ and ‘Ultra’, and the standard equipment list of the Motion is not only long but includes electronic marvels that, not very long ago, one would not have found on even top-spec small cars?

Highlights on the standard list include adaptive cruise control, sat nav, keyless entry and start, rear parking sensors and camera, wireless smartphone connections with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, heated front seats and mirrors and a whole lot more, plus as we detail below an extensive number of electronic safety aids – it’s a level of equipment that typical small car buyers will simply not believe.

If you choose the Ultra, which costs £1,100 over the equivalent Motion, you’ll get a polished finish to the alloy wheels, automatic air conditioning instead of manual, rear-seat heating and electric folding door mirrors.

Both versions of the car employ a 1.2-litre petrol engine that has been improved on the previous model, with either a five-speed manual or automatic transmission.

Later this year the all-wheel-drive version will join the range, in Ultra trim only. Very few makers offer such a format on a small car but Suzuki has had great success with its ‘Allgrip’ all-wheel-drive models, in both the previous Swift and its Ignis small SUV. You’re not going to take these cars seriously off-road but in the increasingly extreme weather we see these days all-wheel-drive can be a safety gain.      

Suzuki’s warranties have been criticised in the past compared to rivals and the brand has responded with its ‘Service Activated’ programme. At the end of the base three-year warranty, if you have your Swift serviced at a Suzuki dealer, they will activate another year’s warranty. This process can be repeated four times, taking the car up to seven years/100,000 miles.

It’s not as good as a proper new car warranty (which doesn’t restrict you to servicing the car at the official dealership), but it’s at least an improvement.

What’s the Suzuki Swift like inside?

The interior is where the designers have made the most changes to the Swift in a bid to give it a more upmarket feel. A two-tone finish provides bright surroundings, though the plastics remain obvious with little in the way of soft-touch surfaces. 

The seating position for both occupants feels quite high, but there’s plenty of headroom and the seats are comfortable. While the instruments have previously been focused on the driver with the centre console controls accordingly slightly angled, this is now more obvious, giving a cockpit-like feel for the person at the wheel.

In an age of increasingly sci-fi like graphics the driver’s display is pleasingly traditional. Yes it’s a bang up-to-date digital screen which includes such aids as navigation directions in the centre, but flanking these are revs and speed information in traditional dial format. The centre console screen is high and easy to use, the navigation clear whether using the built-in screen or app-based aids such as Google Maps.

The Swift is a small car and the rear seats are cosy, although they don’t feel as cramped as some rivals, with reasonable legroom. Boot space is 265 litres, expanding to 589 with the rear seats folded.

What’s the Suzuki Swift like to drive?

While the Swift’s new engine is around a second faster to 62mph than its predecessor, that’s hardly headline news. With an official time of 12.5 seconds, the car does not exactly live up to its name.

In this market, however, it’s not really trying to – the priority is to be a totally dependable small car that will be easy to live with, particularly considering many of those behind the wheel are likely to be new to driving. In this it succeeds in spades, even if it will be frustrating for anyone caught behind it on a narrow country road with no overtaking opportunities…

It’s no rocketship but it doesn’t feel slow, just thoroughly competent – aided by the mild hybrid assistance, the new engine pulls well through the rev range while the steering has the right amount of feel to it. Combined with the overall light weight, the Swift makes for a surprisingly nimble little car.

The car is set up with a slightly stiffer suspension that you might expect in this market, but it gives the Swift a planted, confidence-inducing feel on the road and allows the chassis to deal more effectively with the increasingly poor surfaces of today’s highways. The ride remains quite comfortable despite the stiffer suspension.

The Swift doesn’t write headlines for its on-road performance – it just does what is required very well.

How safe is the Suzuki Swift?

The new Swift has not undergone Euro NCAP testing yet, so we can’t comment on how it performs in an emergency situation. Hopefully it will score rather higher than its predecessor.

The previous-generation Swift did not impress in its safety testing, scoring a paltry three-star Euro NCAP rating back in 2017 – this only increased to four when one paid for an optional extra safety pack.

There should be no such issues with the new car. Autonomous braking is mandatory these days, and all versions of the Swift come with a very wide suite of driver aids including lane departure, prevention, driver and blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert – there’s nothing safety-related to pay for and all models get the same level of safety kit.

Suzuki Swift economy

The Swift’s new engine is a three-cylinder petrol unit of 1.2 litres, which is joined to a 12-volt mild hybrid system. According to its makers this combination produces up to 8% better economy than the outgoing car, the official figures being about 64mpg with CO2 emissions of 99g/km for the entry-level manual model.

With the automatic transmission, the figures drop back to about 60mpg and 106g/km, and to 57mpg and 110g/km in the all-wheel-drive version.

Verdict

The Suzuki Swift is considered a successful model line with good reason – Suzuki has sold more than nine million of them around the world over the last 40 years. This new version should continue the positive vibes – it’s more fun to drive than many in this market, it matches its core rivals on price and becomes rather more desirable when one factors in the equipment list. It’s a bit of a gem…

Similar cars

If you’re looking at the Suzuki Swift, you might also be interested in these alternatives

Citroën C3 | Dacia Sandero | Ford Fiesta | Honda Jazz | Hyundai i20 | Kia Rio | Mazda 2 | MG 3 | Mini hatch | Mitsubishi Mirage | Nissan Micra | Peugeot 208 | Renault Clio | SEAT Ibiza | Skoda Fabia | Toyota Yaris | Vauxhall Corsa | Volkswagen Polo

Key specifications

Model tested: Suzuki Swift Ultra
Price as tested: £19,799
Engine: 1.2-litre petrol with mild hybrid assistance
Gearbox: Five-speed manual

Power: 82 hp
Torque: 112 Nm
Top speed: 103 mph
0-62 mph: 12.5 seconds

Fuel economy (combined): 64.2mpg
CO2 emissions: 99 g/km
Euro NCAP safety rating: Not yet tested
TCE Expert Rating: Not yet rated

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Andrew Charman
Andrew Charman
Andrew is a road test editor for The Car Expert. He is a member of the Guild of Motoring Writers, and has been testing and writing about new cars for more than 20 years. Today he is well known to senior personnel at the major car manufacturers and attends many new model launches each year.
Good to drive, practical and with loads of equipment, the new Suzuki Swift should be checked out by anyone looking for a new small carSuzuki Swift test drive