What is the Suzuki Swift?
Since the first range appeared in Britain in 1984, there have been two distinct eras of superminis badged Suzuki Swift, with the earlier one not having a direct lineage with more recent models.
Now in Mk5 guise, the Swift is a range of small hatchbacks that takes on the might of the Ford Fiesta, Peugeot 208, Renault Clio and SEAT Ibiza, but with a couple of intriguing twists up its sleeve to garner further appeal.
- Top speed: 105-130mph
- 0-62mph: 7.8-12.2 seconds
- Fuel economy: 50-65mpg
- Emissions: 98-125g/km of CO2
- Boot space: 265-579 litres
Which versions of the Suzuki Swift are available?
Today’s Swift is the third iteration since the franchise was rebooted in 2005 and consequently the latest Mk5 model looks like an evolution of the two generations immediately before it.
This is no bad thing, though, as the Swift has a distinctive shape, amplified this time around by a much larger grille, curvier bodysides and hidden rear door handles. Like almost every other supermini on sale, the Suzuki Swift Hatchback is now five doors-only, albeit with hidden rear door handles to make it look a bit sportier.
Engine choice is limited for the mainstream range of two petrol motors: a 1.2-litre Dualjet and a turbocharged 1.0-litre Boosterjet – both are available on selected models with a mild hybrid system known as SHVS - for Suzuki Hybrid Vehicle System.
That’s one area the Swift (currently) differs from its rivals – only the Toyota Yaris is also available with a hybrid system, albeit a much more capable one. The other break from the norm is that Suzuki will also sell you a Swift 4x4 with a slightly elevated ride height. It’s not a go-anywhere SUV, but it might get you out of bother if you live in an area that suffers regularly from poor weather and rough road surfaces.
What is the Suzuki Swift Sport?
Topping the line-up is Suzuki’s performance-focused version of the Swift, although its 140hp output looks more than a tad weedy compared with the likes of the Ford Fiesta ST’s 200hp output.
Badged Swift Sport, it differs visually from less-powerful versions largely by virtue of a completely different front bumper, together with a more protruding, inverted grille design.
Although the handling still allows drivers to exploit the relatively modest power on offer, the experience has been softened somewhat compared with its predecessors.
Those of you with longer memories may recall that the sportier versions of the Mk1 and Mk2 Swift followed the 1980s trend of using the GTi name – both were well-regarded at the time, but only a handful of each survive today.
Styling and engineering
Although the Mk5 Swift’s styling is an evolution of the two models before it, the underpinnings are different. Suzuki calls it its Heartect platform, and those parts are shared in modified form with other Suzukis including the Ignis and Baleno ranges.
The vast majority of Swifts send their power to the front wheels, with the 4x4 using a part-time four-wheel drive system Suzuki calls AllGrip. This saves fuel compared with a full-time four-wheel drive, but still gives buyers the security they’re looking for when they choose one in the first place.
It’s a well-engineered supermini – something reflected in Suzuki’s enviably strong reliability record – but as a value-focused brand that means that expense is spared elsewhere, most notably with the hard, unyielding interior plastics.
Is it good to drive?
Even though its responses have been softened slightly compared with the two generations of Swift before it, the Mk5 remains an enjoyable car to pilot along both winding B-roads and urban areas.
There’s not a huge amount of power on offer – even with the punchier Swift Sport – meaning that part of the Suzuki’s fun is eking out as much performance as one can and maintaining it for as long as possible.
Despite its sharp, roll-free cornering ability, the Swift is light and nimble – this can result in a floaty, sometimes fidgety ride over poorly surfaced roads.
How much does the Suzuki Swift cost?
Where once Suzuki was a paragon of low-cost motoring compared with its rivals, today’s models are not so obviously inexpensive. One reason the older Swift Sports gained popularity was because of their good value for money, while the most recent generation is as expensive as the much quicker Fiesta ST. Not a good position to be in.
It’s a similar story on finance, where the Swift is average value compared with other superminis, that arguably have greater badge kudos or where dealers are more frequently found.
Find out what Suzuki Swift drivers think of their cars with our comprehensive owners’ reviews.
Suzuki Swift Model History
Fourth-generation Suzuki Swift (2010-17)
Buoyed by the success of the Mk3, Suzuki introduced the Swift Mk4 as an all-round improvement to the range it replaced, including similar styling to the three- and five-door hatchback range.
Every design detail was amplified and exaggerated, including the curvature of the lower tailgate which had more than a passing resemblance to the Mk2 Renault Megane range.
Most Swifts were powered by petrol engines, but the option of a Fiat-sourced 1.3-litre diesel – badged DDiS – continued, albeit selling in small numbers.
The Swift Sport returned in 2012, now with 136hp and later with the option of five-door practicality, while Suzuki also returned to its roots and offered a slightly taller Swift 4x4 with four-wheel drive from 2013.
Third-generation Suzuki Swift (2005-11)
It might have been called a Swift, but the Mk3 three- and five-door hatchback range launched in 2005 was a bold and brave new world for the Japanese brand.
After a two-year gap from its predecessor, the Swift had reappared as a car you’d choose to own because of how it looked and drove, not simply because it was the cheapest new car you could afford.
Taller, more spacious, much better built and supremely reliable, the Swift turned Suzuki’s fortune and image around in Europe. Both of these facets received a further shot in the arm in 2006 when the Swift Sport was released, although only as a three-door. It might have only packed 125hp, but its lightness, joyous handling and good value made it an instant hit. The Sport even continued into 2011 after the mainstream Swifts had been replaced,
Second-generation Suzuki Swift (1988-03)
Five years before Vauxhall tried the same trick with the Mk1 Corsa, Suzuki released its Mk2 Swift with two distinct styles of bodywork for the three- and five-door versions.
With a more sloping tailgate, the three-door Suzuki Swift Hatchback was the more overtly sporty of the pair, topped by a sprightly 100hp GTi version, while the longer, more spacious five-door had a near vertical tailgate.
Following their 1988 debut, Suzuki followed-up the hatches with a four-wheel drive Suzuki Swift Saloon in 1990. By this point British interest in compact four-door cars was significantly waning meaning that it was discontinued in 1993, a full decade before the rest of the range disappeared from price lists.
While Suzuki replaced this generation of Swift in Japan and North America, it soldiered-on in Europe, with a mild facelift and production relocated to Hungary. It was even rebadged and sold with four-wheel drive as the otherwise identical Subaru Justy.
By this point the ageing Swift was being marketed as a cheap new alternative to a used version of the more popular superminis. Buyers weren’t convinced, despite the generous levels of specification and sales ended in 2003.
First-generation Suzuki Swift (1984-88)
Here’s a spot of motoring trivia that may have escaped your attention: although the Suzuki Swift name was used on a range of compact three-door hatchbacks from 1984, the car the badge was attached to had already been on sale for much of the year with the less attention-grabbing moniker of Suzuki SA 310.
Suzuki struggled to get much traction in the market following the name change, so it expanded the line-up in 1986 to include the pokier GTi and a new five-door option, with the range-topper being ambitiously titled as GLX Executive.