Good to drive alternative to the mainstream offerings
- Perky performance in Boosterjet form
- Fun to drive with sporty handling
- Faster, lighter and more economical than predecessor
- Generous equipment levels
- Price gap to rivals is closing
- No three-door model available
- Swift Sport not expected on sale until 2018
- Interior quality not quite up with class leaders
The Suzuki Swift has been a popular supermini choice in the UK since its re-launch in 2005 as a desirable small car rather than a bargain basement offering. Yes, there were two previous generations of Swift sold here in the 1980s and 1990s, but they never sold in serious numbers.
With is cheeky styling, a sporty driving experience and keen prices, the Swift picked up a strong following that continued with the 2011 car – and, which Suzuki hopes continues with this iteration.
There’s a lot riding on the fifth-generation Swift as it promises to combine the charm of the original with a dash of sophisticated styling and technology.
Suzuki now has three cars in the smallest car sectors, with the Celerio and Ignis sharing showroom space with the Swift, and it hopes this is more than enough choice to see off rivals, such as the Ford Fiesta, Skoda Fabia and Vauxhall Corsa.
Greater efficiency, more style
Suzuki says that it’s a sportier-driving option than the more mainstream supermini opposition. The signs are good even before you drive it. It’s 10mm shorter, lower, roomier inside and 120kg lighter than its predecessor, while its styling is funkier, too, with more sculpted flanks, LED front and rear lights, and a more stylised front grille.
There are two engines on offer – the 1.2-litre four-cylinder Dualjet entry-level car, and the innovative 111hp three-cylinder 1.0-litre Boosterjet version. This is the star of the range, combining an official combined fuel consumption figure of 65.7mpg with emissions of 97g/km (without SVHS it’s 61.4mpg and 104g/km). There is no longer a diesel version – and the Swift Sport is promised for early 2018.
Goodbye three-door, hello hybrid
One area where choice has diminished is in its body style – you now no longer have the option of buying a three-door version, a fact that might put off younger buyers. But the rear door handles are hidden which gives this Swift a bit of three-door attitude.
Unusually for this class of car, Suzuki offers what it calls an SHVS mild-hybrid system. What that means is there’s a lithium-ion battery pack beneath the passenger seat, and it gathers energy from braking to power a small integrated starter generator. And that boosts power when accelerating.
The Parkers Verdict
In a nutshell, this is a fun car to drive, and one which promises reliability and dependability to complement its sportiness. Although it’s not as cheap as the previous-generation Swift, it’s still good value, and is available in three equipment levels, which are all generously appointed, as well as a number of interesting optional extras.
Although it features evolutionary styling, the new Swift is a big step over its likeable predecessor, and heads somewhere near to the head of its class. Certainly, in terms of driving experience (in Boosterjet form especially), it gives the 2009-17 Ford Fiesta a run for its money.
It’s roomier, more economical and is blessed with more style than the old model – if it’s cheap enough, it could end up being an uncommonly good supermini for a bargain price.