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Parkers overall rating: 4.1 out of 5 4.1
  • Boosterjet versions are quick and fun to drive
  • Excellent acceleration aided by hybrid system
  • Refined engines love being driven hard

GIven that the 1.0-litre Boosterjet version with 111hp and weighing in at a modest 915kg, you’d be right to expect warm hatchback levels of performance. It boasts a 0-62mph time of 10.6 seconds and the maximum speed is 121mph. In gear pulling power is also reasonable thanks to a healthy 170Nm of torque (160Nm in the automatic).

We like the way it pulls at low engine speeds, meaning that you won’t need to use the sweet-shifting five-speed gearbox too often to keep up with the flow. In fact, it accelerates happily from walking speed up to the legal limit – just in third gear. So, there’s no need to extend it beyond 4,000rpm.

It cruises happily on the motorway, its refinement limited by wind rather than engine noise, and in town, the light, well-weighted controls, combined with good visibility, mean it’s pleasant to drive in urban environments.

Blue 2019 Suzuki Swift Attitude front three-quarter

For improved economy and emissions, the 1.0-litre engine can also be specced with Suzuki’s mild-hybrid SHVS system. This uses electrical power to assist the Swift when pulling away, gaining charge when the vehicle brakes. Power and performance figures for 1.0-litre cars fitted with the SHVS system are unchanged.

Entry-level Dualjet feels down on power

The cheapest engine in the Swift’s line-up, the 1.2 Dualjet, feels noticeably slower than the pricier 1.0-litre. There’s just about enough go for driving in and around the city, but venture out onto motorways or hilly A-roads and the 90hp engine really begins to struggle.

Acceleration to 62mph takes 11.9 seconds in the front-wheel drive version and 12.6 in the AllGrip four-wheel drive car. But both feel slower than these figures suggest. And because there’s such a dearth of meaningful oomph, the engine and gearbox have to be worked exceptionally hard bringing fuel economy down significantly.

Red 2019 Suzuki Swift SZ5 AllGrip SHVS side profile

That AllGrip system adds noticeable weight, too, so only spec it if absolutely necessary, but it does come with the SHVS hybrid package, so it's not the least fuel efficient model, 

Suzuki Swift Sport delivers punchier performance

Boasting more power and more torque than the previous generation Swift Sport, this generation of model feels noticeably quicker – especially during in-gear acceleration. The 230Nm of torque from the 1.4-litre Boosterjet engines means there’s plenty of flexibility in the car’s performance, plus a 975kg kerb helps the Suzuki onto a 0-62mph time of just 8.1 seconds. Not the quickest of hot hatches, but certainly - erm - swift.

Outright power is still fairly moderate at 140hp, yet there’s still enough to haul the Swift Sport along to some healthy speeds given the opportunity.

Yellow 2019 Suzuki Swift Sport engine bay

Sadly, however, despite the car’s impressive performance, the engine isn’t especially characterful and falls short of the benchmark set by the previous iteratuons. Yes, it’s quick, but the sound, power delivery and lack of much going on near the top end of the rev range put a dampener on proceedings. 

Indecesive automatic gearbox

The six-speed automatic is only available on 1.0-litre Boosterjet models is impressively responsive, and delivers smooth well-timed changes at normal speed. However, take it onto a faster road and it begins to struggle.

Should you want to accelerate forward while traveling at speed, the gearbox requires a hurried-feeling change down – often two – to elicit any real movement, creating a frustrating experience as the transmission constantly flicks between gears. On the plus side, 0-62mph drops from 10.6 to 10 seconds flat, even if top speed drops 3mph from 121mph to 118mph. 

Responsive handling rewards drivers

  • Enthusiasts' choice, even in low-power guise
  • Accurate steering and tidy cornering on offer
  • Despite sportiness, it’s not uncomfortable on poor roads

Overall, the Swift meets Suzuki’s promise of a ‘sporty drive’. It’s good, and up among the best cars in its class. It’s not quite as good as the Ford Fiesta, but certainly not far off – lacking a little of its rival’s polished feel.

Despite being biased for handling, the ride quality is more than acceptable, with only the deepest potholes and road ruts causing problems on a spirited drive.

Blue 2019 Suzuki Swift Attitude front three-quarter

Damping is supple, rounding off the worst of the edges, while overall cornering is of the agile variety. The steering is noteworthy for its quick rack and lightness – although like nearly all the competitive set, you trade-off road feel for overall weight and accuracy.

Swift Sport lacks predecessor's sharpness

Predictably, the Swift Sport takes the standard car’s already impressive handling and builds on it. Boasting bags of grip and powerful brakes, it’s surprisingly rapid down a twisty country road. Of particular note is the damping. It’s not too firm nor too soft, and deals with surface imperfections well for such a small, light car.

Yellow 2019 Suzuki Swift Sport side profile

It’s just a shame then that the Swift Sport isn’t really sharper than the car it’s based on. The steering, although weighted up, provides little feedback and delivers an elastic-like feel. It’s not enough to stop the car from being good fun, however, keen drivers wanting a repeat of the more focused previous-generation Swift Sport may be disappointed.