- We test an unlikely company car - the 4x4 Suzuki Swift
- Top-spec SZ4 trim means lots of standard equipment
- Monthly tax bill of £44 for a 20 percent tax payer
Although on first inspection you may not expect a small four-wheel drive hatchback to appeal to a company car driver, its forecast that 10 percent of all Suzuki Swift 4x4s sold will go to fleet drivers.
It will appeal to those who are looking for low running costs yet need the ability to get from A to B whatever the weather. People such as nurses and health authority workers who need the ability to get to their patients even in the darkest winter will be its main target audience.
Built around a five-door Swift with a 1.2-litre petrol engine, our SZ4-specification car comes loaded with kit and is extremely good to drive. Its main rival is the Fiat Panda 4x4, which is an incredibly popular car thanks to its mix of decent off-roading ability, on-road manners and low running costs.
Inside there's little to differentiate the 4x4 from a normal Swift. That means you get hard-wearing materials, simple controls and an honest build quality, even if some of the plastics don't feel as 'premium' as rivals.
On the road the 4x4 drives very much like the standard Swift, which is absolutely no bad thing whatsoever. It manages a combination of excellent ride quality and engaging handling, which makes it one of the more fun cars in the small hatchback sector.
Thanks to the four-wheel drive system there’s also a lot of grip available too. Suzuki says rather than being a hardcore off-road machine it’s geared towards those who have to travel on roads in inclement conditions.
It does however have a slightly higher ride height and in SZ4 specification you get black wheel arch extensions and scuff plates at the front and rear, which makes it look like it has off-road intentions even if it’s more suited to on-road driving.
Other equipment on SZ4 cars includes automatic air-con, front fog lights, a push-button start, cruise control, automatic headlights and tinted windows.
Usually, the fitment of a four-wheel drive system means you lose a little bit of manoeuvrability as the turning circle increases, but this is not the case with the Swift. It’s a nimble little thing which is very easy to park.
Although it drives well, there’s a slight fly in the ointment with the 4x4 Swift. Its 1.2-litre engine makes 93bhp and has 118Nm of torque, but the latter isn’t available until 4,800rpm. For this reason you have to work the engine incredibly hard to make meaningful progress, which of course harms fuel economy.
The official 0-62mph time is 13.4 seconds, and it feels every bit as slow as that when you’ve got somewhere to be.
Of course, with small cars where there’s a performance deficit you usually find agreeable running costs. The Swift 4x4 is no exception – thanks to CO2 emissions as low as 126g/km it qualifies for Benefit-in-Kind taxation of 17 percent. With a P11d value of £15,684 that means monthly company car tax of £44.
Fuel economy is good too, with the little Suzuki returning a claimed 51.3mpg on the combined cycle. You’ll not hit anywhere near that in real life though; thanks to the engine’s somewhat lethargic nature we found closer to 40mpg is a more realistic guess for real-world driving. That equates to a range of between 350 and 450 miles per tank of petrol.
Still, the Swift 4x4 is an interesting prospect for those looking for a small car which can cope with almost anything the British weather can throw at it. In fact, if you factor in the cost of winter wheels and tyres for £130 for each corner, it’ll be pretty much unstoppable. Don’t worry about storing your spare wheels either, as Suzuki dealerships will do that for you.
You can read the full review of the Suzuki Swift by clicking here.
The obvious rival, we like the Panda for its genuine off-road ability and Italian charm.
Although slightly bigger, the Duster represents exceptional value for money.
Comes with a long warranty and good build quality, but doesn’t have the go-anywhere ability of the others in this article.