Parkers overall rating: 3.9 out of 5 3.9
  • One engine for regular Swift
  • One engine for Swift Sport
  • Both are hybrids, both love being pushed hard

What engine options are there?

A single mild-hybrid petrol engine is available in the regular Swift, though it is offered with manual and automatic gearbox options, and even all-wheel drive. The Swift Sport is rather different, powered by a bigger engine and designed to appeal to driving enthusiasts.

A slick five-speed manual gearbox is standard across the range, as is front-wheel drive. This is a typical setup in the segment. The regular Swift can be fitted with a CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission), which is an automatic gearbox without any defined gears. It results in quicker acceleration, but it also means you’ll hear the engine at work more. We’re not fans. 

For those that want all-weather traction and have decided against cheaper winter tyres, the regular Swift can be fitted with all-wheel drive, called Allgrip by Suzuki. Useful as that might be, it adds weight to the car, making it the slowest and least economical version in the line-up.

Petrol engines

Engine Power and torque
0-62mph time
Top speed
1.2 Dualjet Hybrid manual 83hp, 107Nm 13.1secs 112mph
1.2 Dualjet Hybrid CVT (auto) 83hp, 107Nm 12.2secs 109mph
1.2 Dualjet Hybrid Allgrip (AWD) 83hp, 107Nm 13.8secs 106mph
1.4 Boosterjet manual (Sport) 129hp, 235Nm 9.1secs 130mph

The only engine available on the regular Swift (not counting the separate Sport model) is the 1.2-litre mild hybrid, badged Dualjet Hybrid. There’s just about enough go for driving in and around the city, but venture out onto motorways or hilly A-roads and the 83hp engine really begins to struggle.

Acceleration to 62mph takes 12.2 seconds at best but feels slower than that. 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. 

This engine features Suzuki’s mild-hybrid system. This uses electrical power to assist the Swift when pulling away, gaining charge when the vehicle brakes. How mild is mild? You won’t really notice the system, and it doesn’t make any difference to the power or performance figures. But it helps reduce CO2 emissions.

Despite its name and appearance, the Swift Sport offers less than attention grabbing figures – just 129hp powers this 1.4-litre model – but the car weighs about a tonne, so that number isn’t as comparable with its heavier rivals as you’d expect. It certainly feels feistier than the rest of the Swift models. A 0-62mph time of 9.1 seconds is not much to write home about these days.

Tempering that slightly are two facets of the now-hybridised powertrain. The Swift Sport uses a 48v system that recharges itself when you take your foot off the gas or press the brake. That has a corrupting effect on the way the car drives, because lifting your right foot is now followed by a stronger than usual sensation of engine braking as the hybrid system gathers power – the Swift Sport has always been a car that encouraged you to maintain speed, and this feature feels like it’s pulling you backwards.

Where the hybrid drivetrain starts to shine however is in the immediacy of the engine’s response, boosted by the electric motor, and 235Nm of torque that Suzuki says is available from low RPM for a strong pull of acceleration without having to shift down a gear. It also results in a smooth power delivery.

There’s not much of a reward for revving the car to its redline and the noise it makes could also do with being a bit more evocative but really we’re splitting hairs here.

How does it handle?

  • Enthusiasts’ choice
  • 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.

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.

Predictably, the Swift Sport takes the standard car’s already impressive handling and improves 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.

That’s a bit unusual these days as hot versions of normal hatchbacks often come equipped with a bone-shaking ride and steering that requires baker’s forearms to operate around town. In one respect that makes the Swift Sport feel lacking in speciality but in reality the car has all the tools it needs to entertain without too much modification.

It’s true that there’s not a lot of communication through the wheel but the steering itself is very nicely judged – fast enough to point the nose of the car where you want it without feeling overly enthusiastic to the point of being annoying on the motorway.

You sense this car’s lightness when turning into a corner – there’s no need to wait for a load of heavy metal to settle itself down before winding on more lock, the car simply goes where you place it with neat agility and the odd noise of distress from the grippy tyres. As a result this makes it a proper weapon on a twisty b-road, particularly if the surface is broken and cracked, and you’ll be surprised how well this car keeps up with substantially more powerful machinery that can’t get its horses on the tarmac.

While the hybrid engine has moved away slightly from the simplicity this car has always embodied, the way it corners remains an organic and natural experience, rather than the combination of various electronic aids and a mechanical differential working to hold your line around a corner. That’s a rare thing these days and the main reason why the Swift Sport remains one of our favourite cars on sale.