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Suzuki Swift

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Suzuki Swift
6/10

Overall
verdict

Small, stylish and unexpectedly entertaining to drive, the Swift is a better car than most people realise.

Additional Info

  • Spirited driving for modest money
  • Top Gear wildcard

    If you place top priority on refinement in a supermini, you really must try the Volkswagen Polo

  • Our choice

    Swift 1.2 SZ3 3d

    Price £11,999

    BHP 94

    LB FT 87

    MPG 56

    CO2 116

    0-62 MPH 12.30

    Top Speed 103

  • Next steps

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What is it?

The arrival of the new Swift in 2005 promised to usher in a new era for the budget Japanese brand. Here was a car with fantastic styling, unexpectedly entertaining driving characteristics and solid build quality, all for a rock-bottom price. Sadly, Suzuki hasn’t made such inroads in the UK in any other area, with lacklustre products like the SX4 hatch and Alto city car failing to make an impression.

But hey, there’s still nothing wrong with the Swift, now into its second generation (even though it doesn’t look it): there’s even now a replacement for the Sport, now better than ever. An ideal alternative to the Mini you can’t quite afford?

Driving

The Swift is blessed with that rarest of things in the supermini class these days, lightness, and as such feels ridiculously easy to hustle along. Sharp steering and a decent chassis set-up also mean it responds accurately to driver inputs. There is a decent trio of engines to choose from; the 1.2-litre is the pick of the bunch, but even the little 1.3 diesel is good over longer journeys. Suzuki even now offers a 4x4 version, for extra grip in wintry conditions.

It’s no picnic though – perhaps the main drawback of these light underpinnings is a shortage of sound deadening. Coupled with the 1.2-litre that needs working hard, general vibration and tyre roar during out of town driving, it can get pretty exhausting.

On the inside

This is not the Swift’s principal selling point, to say the least. Suzuki doesn’t really do luxury, not even a tissue-thin suggestion of it, and the Swift’s cabin is a hard, brittle plasticky affair. That said, it does appear to be solidly made and hard-wearing, and the overall design is clean, logical and modern. So it’s not posh, but it doesn’t feel all Happy Shopper either.

In terms of comfort, it’s worth remembering that the Swift is one of the smaller cars in its class and although room upfront is fine, it’s very cramped in the rear. And that issue with sound deadening warrants another mention. The cabin is far more noisy than we’d like.

Owning

The Swift is well made and reliable. It should also be fairly cheap to maintain and certainly the best-selling 1.2-litre unit currently on offer will be frugal around town and pretty cheap to insure. Again, the diesel is the engine to get if fuel bills are a worry for you.

Brands like this never hold their value as well as the posher, more desirable offerings out there, but the Swift can be bought and run cheaply enough to make it an immensely shrewd purchase from start to finish.

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Latest road tests

8/10 Suzuki Swift 4x4 driven
October 2013
8/10 Suzuki Swift Sport three-door driven
January 2012
7/10 Suzuki Swift 1.2 SZ4 five-door
January 2011
7/10 Suzuki Swift Sport
October 2006

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