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MOTORS: Suzuki are Swift to fill gap in supermini market

By Alan Douglas

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Suzuki Swift.
Suzuki Swift.

It seems everyone is moving into SUVs and EVs - but there’s still a place for the small compact runabout.

If proof were needed, Suzuki have come out with their latest Swift, aimed at filling the gap left by the disappearance of the much-loved Ford Fiesta and a couple of other superminis, like the Kia Rio and Nissan Micra.

That means something like a quarter-of-a-million customers have been left looking for an alternative.

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That’s why Suzuki are confident their new Swift will do well, working on the basis that there’s no less demand, just less choice.

As product head honcho at Suzuki, Ed Norman, put it: “There’s a large chunk of the market up for grabs.”

What they’ve come up with to grab the customers is a cracker, which is cleaner, more economical and faster, thanks to a new three-cylinder mild hybrid engine which replaces the four-cylinder version in the previous model.

The current Swift has been consistently popular since it first arrived here 20 years ago, although the name has been around for more than double that. The fourth generation will capitalise on that loyalty with Suzuki expecting to increase sales to around 12,000-a-year to propel it into the top 10.

Wisely, they’ve kept the same familiar design but with some subtle tweaks on the outside like blacked-out pillars which give the impression of a floating roof. At the front, there’s a piano-black grille and L-shaped advanced LED headlights while at the back, the tailgate has been sculpted with a wide bumper and discreet rear hatch and boot side spoilers. The rear combination lamps have the same design as the front with a three-dimensional appearance.

Along with an all-new interior with the centre controls angled towards the driver, there’s a stack of extra standard equipment like heated front seats with reshaped cushioning, rear-view camera and parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, 16-inch alloys and a host of safety features.

Suzuki Swift.
Suzuki Swift.

While the cabin couldn’t be described as luxurious, it is of a higher standard than you’d expect in a car at this level and certainly a step up on the outgoing model, although that was a good combination of comfort and robustness.

Rear leg room is as restricted as you’d expect and the boot is just about big enough for a couple of overnight bags but what more do you need in a compact hatchback?

There are just two trim levels, Motion and Ultra, which was the test car version and adds automatic air conditioning, rear passenger heating and electric folding door mirrors.

The car is still based on its established platform which is light yet highly rigid for strength but a lot of work has been done to reduce noise, vibration and harshness which can often be a feature of small cars.

For the first time, a special new adhesive has been applied to the under body and certainly the car is the better for it, returning a much quieter and smooth drive, helped by adjustments to the suspension to reduce roll and improve handling and stability through the bends.

There’s a CVT automatic version and the impressive Suzuki Allgrip four-wheel-drive system is available on the Ultra model with manual transmission which is a delight with a short throw and positive feel.

The 1.2 litre engine may be low on power but that takes nothing away from the driving experience which is lively and nimble and enjoyable whether on quiet side roads or cruising at the national speed limit.

The mild hybrid set-up means you get great economy of mid-60 miles out of every gallon with low CO2 emissions of less than 100 g/km. The electric element is all done automatically with the lithium-ion battery charged through regeneration on braking.

The extra electric boost assists the petrol engine when moving off and during acceleration and the whole process is seamless. Suzuki reckon you could clock up 1000 miles for about £99 worth of petrol, which is impressive.

Suzuki Swift.
Suzuki Swift.

CAR: Suzuki Swift 1.2 Mild Hybrid Ultra

PRICE: £19,799

ENGINE: 1197cc 3 cyl 5-speed manual


TORQUE: 112 Nm

TOP SPEED: 103mph

0-62mph: 12.5 secs

ECONOMY: 64 mpg combined

CO2: 99 g/km

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