The latest supermini from the small car masters fails to excite
The Swift is Suzuki’s best-selling car which, in its previous guise, shifted more than a million units in Europe alone. It’s a more significant rival to the Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa than you might first think, making the arrival of an all-new one a significant event. They don’t come around all that often, after all: the previous car was arguably a little past its sell-by date at the end.
This new one is thus bigger yet lighter (more than 100kg has been taken out), more powerful yet more economical, and even comes with new-era technology such as a mild hybrid petrol version. Intriguing technology, which we chose to test in the UK, in a Swift boasting top-spec trim to show off all its new features.
Unlike some supposedly all-new cars, it is clear to see the evolution with this new model. It’s more rounded and obviously bigger, although arguably a bit more anonymous than before. The interior is a bit funkier, and we like the new glass-fronted infotainment system. It’s similarly packed out with shiny black plastics though, so it doesn’t feel any more upmarket despite being as well assembled as the old car.
Space has, however, improved a lot. The driving position is comfier, those in the rear have more space and the boot has been improved considerably – by a full 25 percent. This takes it up to parity with cars such as the Vauxhall Corsa at last.
The 1.0-litre Boosterjet mild hybrid engine uses a combined starter-generator to give the little turbo motor more shove under acceleration. It also means the stop-start functionality is improved – so although it seems more enthusiastic and engaging than before, it’s also a more economical machine with sub-100g/km CO2 emissions. It’s a pity its enthusiasm is not matched by a better manual gearbox though.
Handling isn’t as engaging as before, despite decent grip and easy steering, and ride quality is busier than European alternatives. It’s more grown up but the charm of the old Swift isn’t there. That’s a pity, given how tight the competition is in this sector. Refinement shows a lack of finesse at times.
Suzuki fights back with excellent value pricing, starting from £10,999. Even the SZ3 model gets DAB, Bluetooth and air con, while our pick, the SZ-T model, has a seven-inch infotainment system that links to your smartphone, plus 16-inch alloys and a reversing camera. This spec undercuts comparable Fiestas, Corsas and even Skoda Fabias, while impressive economy and decent retained values further keep running costs under control.
There’s no doubting the Swift has improved, and is a much better all-rounder than its aged predecessor. What’s more of a pity is the fact it’s not improved enough in areas such as styling, handling and refinement. It’s very good value for money, and a decent choice for the low-demand driver, but we can’t help but think it’s a bit of an anti-climax given how charming the old one was.