All versions of the good-looking Suzuki Swift tip the scales at well under 1000kg thus delivering a lively and fun driving experience from the available economic engines. I liked the previous model a lot and this new one improves on that across the board. The test car, in top-of-the-range SZ5 trim, came loaded with extras (see the full spec below) and still cost under £16k, making this supermini tremendous value.
Suzuki Swift SHVS?
Or Smart Hybrid Vehicle by Suzuki, for the uninitiated. This new technology for the brand comes under the heading of ‘Mild Hybrid’. The idea is as simple as it is effective.
The SHVS system works on the principle of regenerative braking where kinetic energy while slowing down is converted into electricity and stored in the battery. If you look below there’s an image demonstrating this.
The Suzuki Swift SHVS model is fitted with an Integrated Starter Generator. This electric motor is powered by the high capacity battery in the car. Put simply, as the car accelerates this is used to supplement the engine’s power with electricity from a lithium-ion battery pack thus ensuring the engine does not have to work as hard when the car accelerates, thereby saving fuel and reducing emissions. It’s there, it’s working, it’s effective but you don’t notice it.
Suzuki Swift Power
There’s a bit of a mix n’ match approach throughout the range, that doesn’t seem quite complete to me. For example, the all-wheel drive option as featured on the tested car can only be had with the 1.2L Dualjet engine which is, alas, a bit lacklustre. It’s okay in general use but with just 89bhp lacks the pizazz of the other offered engine. Surprisingly the added weight of the AWD system is not that great but you still notice the difference in the performance figures.
The torquey three-cylinder 1.0L Boosterjet engine would be my preferred choice. The lighter front-wheel-drive only variant makes for much more spirited motoring with an additional 20bhp over the other engine. This version also gets the option of an automatic gearbox (not tested) that has good things said about it but does slightly detract from the performance, it seems. SHVS is also available for this engine, which makes sense.
It’s great that Suzuki choose to offer an AWD version though because there’s not much choice in the supermini sector. There’s the smaller Fiat Panda 4×4 and that’s about it. As mentioned, the added weight and the dearth of power from the 1.2L detract from the fun of driving the Swift, but it does have merit for those who need that extra bit of traction. The review vehicle came with a five-speed manual gearbox that offered a short, accurate and stubby shift. Combined with a light clutch, it made for easy, accurate gear changes.
Suzuki Swift Sitting
The new Swift has filled out to match other superminis on size and space. It’s now a genuine four-seater with very comfortable seats and a well balanced, pleasing ride quality. With the rear seats folded there’s room for 579 litres of stuff and with the seats up there’s still room for the family shop or some light luggage.
Have a read around the reviews and you’ll hear the usual gripes about the Suzuki interior not matching up to some alternative choices in this sector. Fair enough, but have a look at that price tag again. You can’t have it all ways. Suzuki have a reputation for reliability and the car is very well screwed together. Although the inside is the usual mix of dark materials, I did like the white accents on the doors and dash which lifted the ambience. No complaints from passengers who generally praised the car.
There’s a perfectly adequate infotainment / navigation 4.2” display. It’s not a stand-out unit but it does the job and has Bluetooth and the rest as you’d expect these days. Also available, and, for the most part mystifyingly, the dash cowl incorporates a selection of read-outs between the dials selected at the push of a button. There’s some photos showing some of them. I can see the point of the SHVS display and the fuel usage but otherwise, why?
Suzuki Swift On The Drive?
Yes, why not? The Swift is good value, comes in three trim levels and has a choice of engines, hybrid and AWD options (Here). The brand has a reputation for dependability and this car is great to drive. What’s not to like? If you do like the idea but find the performance a tad tame then fret not: Early 2018 sees the release of the Sport version with a 140bhp 1.4L engine and tighter handling. It’ll be a blast, you wait and see. Geoff Maxted