Suzuki’s Swift is in its fourth decade – but it only started capturing buyers’ imaginations in 2004, when the fourth generation car began to charm the British public with its sharp styling, competitive pricing and fun-to-drive dynamics.
The fifth-generation car built on that same winning formula and earlier this year Suzuki launched the sixth generation model – an all-new car and the biggest design development since the 2004 smash hit replaced the Gremlin-esque mark three.
Suzuki Swift SZ5 SHVS 1.2 Dualjet
Price: £16,149 as tested
Engine: 1.2-litre, 4-cylinder with mild hybrid setup
Torque: 88 lb/ft
Transmission: Five-speed manual
Top Speed: 105mph
0-62mph: 12.6 seconds
CO2 emissions: 101g/km
It’s more refined, more grown-up looking and well-equipped. Unlike previous models, the new Swift is only available with five doors, but clever styling and a high door handle means the car retains the svelte profile of a three-door hatch.
Our test car is the all-wheel drive SHVS model, which means Suzuki’s ‘mild hybrid’ system is paired with a naturally aspirated 1.2-litre engine putting out 89bhp.
I’ve previously tested this engine and hybrid combination in the Swift’s stablemate the Ignis. Like the Ignis the Swift’s ‘mild hybrid’ set-up doesn’t allow the car to run on battery-only. It does however assist the car on start-up and acceleration, recharge via regenerative braking and allow the AWD car to achieve a combined mpg of 62.8mpg.
It’s an engine pairing that works well enough around town, but you need to work it hard to get the best out of it on more challenging roads – thankfully working it hard is plenty of fun, the Swift retaining its predecessor’s renowned handling prowess and adding superhuman grip thanks to the all-wheel drive system.
Despite that system and a hybrid drivetrain, Suzuki have kept the weight to a mere 980kg, the stiffer, lighter-weight platform compared to the old car offsetting the heavier components and helping ensure a stable, exceedingly well-balanced experience.
The five-speed gearbox is paired with a light clutch and has a short, smooth feeling change that’s a pleasure to shift.
The interior quality is another step forward on the old car, materials and layout hold up against all but the most premium competition, there’s a 4.2-inch colour touch-screen infotainment system and a trip display in the main console with some neat graphics that allow you to track what the hybrid system is doing. Seats are comfortable and the cabin feels spacious in the front and rear.
The all-wheel drive system is only available in the top-spec SZ5 trim, so our test car was well equipped and some of the safety features – electronic brake assist and electronic stability program for example –are of a level one doesn’t expect to see on a car in this segment.
The £15,499 price tag might seem steep when you consider you can have a two-wheel drive Swift for under £11,000 – but it’s a grown-up feeling, well-equipped, hybrid 4×4 for under £16k and that sounds like good value.
And best of all, while it might have grown up on the face of things – the sixth-generation Swift drives like it’s still young at heart.