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Monday, May 13, 2024

Full hybrid new Suzuki makes for some Swift handling

New Suzuki Swift drive by Steve Rogers

Suzuki could not have picked a better time to launch its new Swift.

Why? Because the supermini cake is getting smaller. Ford shocked the motoring world when it ditched the huge selling Fiesta, add other big hitters like Nissan Micra and Kia Rio and the list of rivals is shrinking.

Not that it is going to be plain sailing, there is still good opposition around yet new Swift has a strong story to tell: A starting price under £19k, class leading economy and a more than impressive spec list.

There are just two grades, Motion and Ultra, and the obvious pick is Motion. Suzuki has packed the entry model with all the essentials so expect LED headlights, heated front seats, rear camera and sensors, navigation with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connections, adaptive cruise control and a generous list of other safety aids including blind spot monitor, cross traffic alert, and warning beeps if you stray off line.

Swift made its debut in 1985 but it was the 2004 model that made people sit up and take notice. The eye catching shape has stood the test of time although the new model has a redesigned front and is all the better for it.

There have been significant changes inside as well. The outdated dashboard has a more modern look with a lot of new tech in a prominent 9.2inch touchscreen along with an updated driver's binnacle.

It is still covered with hard plastics - the Japanese prefer it because it is easier to clean - yet it has a quality look about it helped by a two-tone finish.

Swift is one of the smallest superminis so don't expect masses of room. It can cope with four adults but the boot is compact and will struggle to take anything more than three carry on bags.

The other big change is a new 1.2 litre three-cylinder engine. It is a self charging 12V mild hybrid so the benefit from the motor is restricted to a small increase in acceleration, lower emissions and smoother stop/start system.

Three-pot engines sound a bit gruff under hard acceleration but have good low down pick up and are generally frugal on fuel. The Swift is exceptional with a class leading 64mpg from the five speed manual. Performance is only adequate and you will need to drop down gears on hills where it runs out of puff.

The car would benefit from a full hybrid set up like the new MG3 which is way faster but with the extra weight of a battery pack will drink more fuel and cost more.

Suzuki is offering a CVT automatic linked to its highly efficient AllGrip all wheel drive system and for the first time AllGrip will be available with the five-speed manual.

A big part of the Swift's charm is its sporty handling. It is a fun car to dart through twists and turns, body movement is under control and the steering quick and precise. No understeer, no drama just an easy, rewarding drive.

Will there be another Sport model? Who knows because UK Director Dale Wyatt gave nothing more than a considered 'may be' when I posed the question. But he did reveal that Suzuki will launch its first battery electric car next year.

If you lived in India your car would probably be a Suzuki where the company rules the roost with almost half the car market. It has never been very easy in the UK in spite of an enviable reliability record, but they have smoothed over a few rough edges and with its competitive price and outstanding economy this could be the time to go for glory.

Fast facts

Swift Ultra mild hybrid

£20,549 (starts £18,699)

1.2 litre petrol; 82bhp

0-62mph 12.5secs; 103mph

64.2mpg combined

99g/km. 1st year tax £165

Boot: 265-589 litres

Insurance group 27

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