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The Top Gear car review:Suzuki Swift
For:Smart looks, spacious cabin, vivacious drive, great economy and equipment
Against:Scratchy dash plastics, humdrum fascia design, steering could do with more feel
What is it?
It’s the all-new Suzuki Swift MkIV and this is very good news if you’re a regular follower of Top Gear, because the Swift Sport has always been one of our favourite everyday performance champions. No Sport to tell you about yet, sadly (although after a bit of gentle torture a Suzuki PR person did admit “the Sport is definitely on the way”), but there’s enough in the make-up of the regular hatchback to make us a bit excited about the forthcoming warm version of the Japanese supermini. More on that in a moment.
First, however, we probably need to clarify Suzuki’s range for you, as you’re no doubt wearing a puzzled expression, while possibly uttering the words ‘but I thought Suzuki already had a supermini, in the form of the Baleno?’ You’re right. But Suzuki would not be alone in offering a multitude of small cars of varying shapes that all seem to be of the same denomination. Look at Vauxhall, for instance: it has the Adam, the Corsa and the Viva. Ford similarly has the Ka+ and the Fiesta, as well as the EcoSport. Seems you just can’t get away with one supermini-sized offering any more, so Suzuki is hedging its bets and banging out three of the blighters, in the form of the Baleno, Ignis micro-SUV and this Swift, its longest-serving hatchback.
The Swift therefore fulfils a function whereby it provides a more chic and compact supermini as a counterpoint to the spacious-but-bargain Baleno, which is perhaps a more (how can we put this?) rational car. So you get some classic Swift design features, like the wraparound windscreen and the sloping roof, plus distinctive C-pillar treatment that now has a ‘floating roof’ effect. Even the light clusters front and rear aren’t that much different to the old car’s units, although the ‘smiling mouth’ lower front grille is not going to meet with universal rapture.
Nevertheless, the Swift is smaller (10mm shorter, 15mm lower, although 40mm wider) and considerably lighter than its predecessor, and it sits on the company’s ‘Heartect’ platform, used for the Baleno and Ignis. But a 20mm-stretched wheelbase means there’s plenty of space within and a boot that’s bigger by 54 litres than the old car’s cargo bay, standing at 265 litres with all seats in situ. That’s some clever packaging work.
Two engines, the 1.2-litre Dualjet normally aspirated four-cylinder petrol and the much more charismatic 1.0-litre Boosterjet three-cylinder motor do the donkey work and both of them can be mated to the Smart Hybrid Vehicle by Suzuki (SHVS) system; this doesn’t add anything in terms of outright torque or performance, but it does marginally cut the emissions and gives the combined economy a little tickle upwards. The 1.2 SHVS is also an Allgrip 4x4 model, while the 1.0 SHVS is the only Swift that comes with the option of an automatic transmission. So, with all this in mind, what’s it like behind the wheel?