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First Drive: Suzuki Swift

By / 4 years ago / Road Tests / No Comments

Lighter, more powerful and better equipped, Suzuki has big plans for the new Swift, says Dan Gilkes.

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SECTOR Supermini   PRICE £10,999-£15,849   FUEL 56.5-65.7mpg   CO2 97-114g/km

Suzuki has big plans for its small cars. Having had its best year yet in the UK in 2016, with more than 38,000 sales, the company is planning for a further 9% growth this year. While Vitara is spearheading this advance, the third generation of the firm’s popular Swift supermini will be doing its fair share of work, particularly in the growing fleet segment.

Suzuki sold 5,225 cars into the fleet market in 2016 and wants to see that rise to 10,000 vehicles in the next three years, while protecting its retail market share. It’s a plan that seems to be working too, with Suzuki sales up 13% in the first four months of 2017, against an overall market that has risen by just 1%.

The new Swift is available in five-door form only. The car is 10mm shorter but boasts a 20mm longer wheelbase. It’s also 40mm wider and 10mm lower than the last generation. More importantly Swift is 120g lighter, with all models well under a tonne, while being up to 20% more powerful and delivering a 10% cut in emissions.

Equally importantly, the only negative comment from buyers of the last generation model was a small boot, with the new car boasting a 25% increase in carrying capacity, without impacting rear seat room.

There are two engines on offer, a three-cylinder 1.0-litre Boosterjet delivering 110bhp and a 1.2-litre Dualjet with 90bhp. The 1.0-litre turbo engine can be ordered with a five-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed auto in front-wheel drive only. The 1.2-litre comes with a manual gearbox only, but with a choice of two-or four-wheel drive.

In top trim SZ5 specification, when equipped with the manual gearbox, both the 1.0-litre engine and the 1.2-litre ALLGRIP model come with Suzuki’s SHVS mild hybrid system. This uses an Integrated Starter Generator (ISG) which acts as both a generator and the starter motor. A 12V lithium-ion battery beneath the passenger seat stores energy from the ISG delivering a 50Nm boost of torque for up to 30 seconds during hard acceleration.

The system, which weighs just 6.7kg, also restarts the engine instantly during Stop/Start operation. It also helps the Boosterjet engine to deliver CO2 emissions of just 97g/km, which should make the 1.0-litre manual car by far the most popular Swift model for fleet buyers. Indeed Suzuki expects the 1.2-litre engine to account for just 15% of sales, mainly for those buyers that require the all-wheel drive system.

Swift adopts plenty of new technology, with Bluetooth and DAB on all models. The SZ5 also gets an advanced forward detection system, dual sensor brake support and high beam assist, guide me home lighting along with a multi-information display with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink.

Suzuki expects fleets to opt for the mid-range SZ-T model with Boosterjet. At just £12,999, the car boasts a rear-view camera, Smartphone link, 16” alloys and front foglamps. However if you can stretch the additional £1,500, the SZ5, with the hybrid system and a car-load of additional specification, really wants for nothing.

We tried the 1.0-litre Boosterjet turbo engine in both manual and automatic cars and they both work equally well. The real surprise was the automatic however, which is equipped with paddles to let you flick rapidly up and down through the gears. Automatic transmissions often struggle to work well on small cars with compact engines, but Swift is the exception and if it wasn’t for the £1,350 on-cost it would be our first choice. Certainly if you are city bound, it’s worth giving the auto a try.What we think

With strong residual forecasts and high specifications, Swift looks set to play a major part in the company’s continued sales growth.

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Dan Gilkes

Dan has been a commercial vehicle and construction equipment journalist for almost 30 years. An automotive engineer and former fleet manager, he has driven almost every van, pickup and truck that has been launched in Europe over that time. As editor of VFW, his aim is to keep readers up to date with the latest developments in the light commercial world.