Loveable Japanese supermini is back. But is it better than ever before? We test it to find out
What do we have here?
It’s been on our roads since the eighties and most people know what you’re talking about when you mention the Suzuki Swift.
That’s however mainly down to the fourth-generation that appeared in showrooms in 2004. Finally, the Swift had the looks to give it mainstream appeal, consigning the left field cheese wedge and breeze block profiles of the previous models to the history books.
The Swift started to stand for design - with its sharp looks, fun – with its entertaining handling, and affordability – with its low asking price.
WATCH OUR FULL VIDEO REVIEW HERE
So where does the all-new sixth-generation fit in this ethos? Well it’s generally the same size as the model it replaces with a few cm added or taken here and there (1cm shorter, 4cm wider, 1 cm lower, 2cm longer wheelbase), although it boot capacity is up by 25% to 265-litres.
It also remains instantly recognisable as a Swift, although those chiselled sharp-edged looks have been sanded down to something a little more curvaceous. And the sanding doesn’t stop there as Suzuki has shaved 120kg of weight from it fresh-faced supermini.
The interior is completely redesigned with an updated Suzuki infotainment system taking centre stage high-up on the dashboard. Also headlining is the amount of technology now squeezed into the Swift with lasers and cameras combining to offer autonomous braking, adaptive cruise control, land departure warning and auto beam.
There are just two engines available but in various combinations. The entry-level 1.2-litre dualjet can be twinned to Suzuki’s mild-hybrid systems (SHVS) and ALLGRIP four-wheel drive. In all forms, it gets a five-speed manual gearbox.
The second engine is a 1.0-litre boosterjet that gets a standard five-speed manual gearbox, has the option for the SHVS and a six-speed automatic.
There are three trim levels, SZ3, SZ-T and SZ5 with even the inexpensive starter model which cost £10,999 getting air con, DAB radio, Bluetooth, rear privacy glass and daytime running lights as standard.
Mid-range SZ-T adds 16in alloys, smartphone connectivity and a rearview camera.
At the summit, the SZ5 further adds automatic air-con, LED headlights, adaptive cruise control, autonomous braking, and electric rear windows.
We’re testing the 1.2-litre SHVS with ALLGRIP in SZ5 trim which costs £15,499. The Burning red metallic paint on our test car costs a further £485.
How does it drive?
There’s certainly not a lot of power coming from the four-cylinder petrol up top with its 89bhp and 89lb ft of torque so you’ll have to work it hard to get the best from it. From pull away to 0-62mph takes 12.6 seconds.
Luckily, it’s happy to be revved and gives its best performance around 4,000rpm, meaning that when pulling out of towns you’ll have to downshift to keep the revs in that region to make much progress.
Joyfully the five-speed gearbox has a short, accurate and stubby throw, and combined with a light clutch meaning it’s not a chore to change gears.
This makes it easy to drive around town, something that is only further enhanced with a light steering feel and small turning circle. The steering is direct, quick to respond and accurate however it could do with being slightly weightier on twisting roads.
With power being sent to the four corners of the car, and with the amount of grip that on offer, the Swift is unmovable, even if you go full tilt mid-corner. It just grips on like its (and your) life depends on it.
As you enter the bend you’ll notice some slight body lean but from then on it corners really flat and true.
Smaller undulations on the road are ironed out by the Swift, however, it’s the larger potholes and bumps where it runs out of talent, tending to thump through them.
There’s some road and suspension noise when you’re on the move although engine and wind noise is well suppressed.
What's it like inside?
The dashboard is dominated by the infotainment system that sits neatly between two rows of circles. Circular air vents sit above and three round dials for the automatic air conditioning sit below.
There’s a well-sized leather wrapped flat-bottomed steering wheel that’s good to hold, which you peer through to see the classy instrument binnacle.
Dominated by two rising cowls and featuring some lovely graphite trim and red lighting.
The wheel has decent adjustment for tilt and reach while the driver’s seat uses a pump lever for height adjustment. In the lowest setting, there is acres of head room on offer.
A second lever operates the backrest but lacks enough spring return to allow you to easily set the angle, instead, having to manually assist to find your preferred position.
In the door, there’s an excellently sized bin. Ahead of the gear-lever, there’s an anti slip try with USB ports and two cupholders, while the glovebox is well-sized.
Overall, the plastics are hard, feel robust higher up but flimsier lower down and on the doors.
You’ll need to locate the hidden door handle to get into the rear, which has a decently sized opening. Once in, head, leg and foot room is good while knee room is ok. There’s also only storage for a small bottle in the door although a low and narrow transmission tunnel will help three sit in comfort.
The boot is fancy-free, has a flat and square floor and single back hoot. There’s a high lip to get over but generally, it’s decent enough.
On an official combined cycle, the 1.2 SHVS AllGRIP is claimed to return 62.8mpg. Over our test route, we managed high 40’s on demanding country roads, meaning it should be easy enough to achieve 50 to mid-50s on more typical routes.
It emits an impressively 101g/km of CO2.
Insurance groupings are yet to be confirmed.
The Swift gets Suzuki’s three-year 60,000-mile warranty.
Suzuki calls the Swift the emotional supermini. It’s certainly got bubbly looks, smile-inducing handling and it’ll make the bank manager happy with a low asking price and running costs.
Inside, the plastics feel cheap and the ride has its limitations while the engine is under powered.
Overall the Swift is an excellent entry-level supermini that’s full of kit, gets hybrid tech and all-wheel drive security for wet and wintry days.
Driver's Seat Rating:
7 out of 10
It's worth considering:
2017 Suzuki Swift 1.2 SHVS ALLGRIP SZ5 manual Stats: