Customer resistance to small cars is crumbling in the face of the high price of fuel, the need for lower emissions and higher road tax. Which makes this is a good time for smart little movers like the Suzuki Swift, writes motoring editor Ian Strachan.
And with the latest version of these well-priced, surprisingly well-specified cars you get 25 per cent more luggage space as well as lots of creature comforts and excellent engines.
The Swift has been around for some years, but it has never set the super-mini sector on fire despite selling more than five million worldwide. That’s a shame because the Swift is a Japanese car with distinctly European looks and driving characteristics, as well as being economical, low-emitting and comfortable. It’s available with four-wheel drive, although only in the higher spec models.
I test drove the Suzuki Swift in SZ5 trim level, powered by a sparkling three cylinder 111 bhp 1.0 litre petrol engine. It returned a more than respectable 65.7 mpg in mixed driving. So the Swift is cheap to run as well as being pretty cheap to buy, with prices starting £10,999. The car I tested comes in at £14,999 on the road, with a Burning Red paint finish at an extra £485.
The Swift is certainly small, but a clever use of available space and large areas of glass make it feel larger. Big windows give the car an open, airy feel, belying its true size when you sit inside. In fact the new Swift is marginally shorter than its predecessor, but its also wider with a longer wheelbase. You get 265 litres of luggage space or 579 by folding the rear seats.
It also has a good specification and lots of safety features compared to many of its rivals, particularly in the SZ5 trim level which I tested.
The Swift is a good looking car, small and not unlike the Mini, but streamlined with soft curves, a nicely rounded front and a gently sloping rear end. But it’s inside where it really scores.
The cabin is a very pleasant place to be, thanks to a good use of trim materials and simple, well-placed instruments and dials. There’s lots of oddment space, and all controls fall easily to hand. Space for driver and front seat passenger is generous, inevitably compromising rear passenger legroom, but even that is still adequate if you don’t have long-legged passengers.
Performance from the 1.0 litre Boosterjet unit is more than adequate, with no flat spots across the range. The engine never felt under strain. It has a five-speed manual gearbox, but doesn’t feel in need of a sixth cog. Handling is confident and controlled.
Standard equipment on this trim level includes 16 inch polished alloy wheels, all-round electric windows, adaptive cruise control, automatic air conditioning, all round air bags, hill-hold control, DAB radio with MP3 compatibility and USB socket, satellite navigation with colour display screen, steering wheel-mounted controls, automatic headlamps and automatic high beam, front fog lights, keyless entry and electric heated door mirrors. In other words, lots of features you wouldn’t expect to find on a low-priced super-mini.
There’s also added safety features including lane assist and forward collision warning
This is a well-priced offering in the super-mini sector with a few more extras than you’d expect, and low running costs.