2017 Suzuki Swift First Drive Review

Caroline drives the new Suzuki Swift

2017 Suzuki Swift
The 2017 Suzuki Swift

The Suzuki Swift has been a feature of Suzuki’s model range in Ireland for many years and is a previous winner of Irish Small Car of the Year. Now the Swift supermini is back for a third generation on an all-new platform. In 2016, the biggest model launch for Suzuki was the Baleno, which was also the car that debuted Suzuki’s brilliant new 1.0-litre Boosterjet turbo petrol engine and is now available for the first time in the Swift. I liked that car very much, but Swift is Suzuki’s more compact supermini with more emotional appeal.

Styling

Baleno is Suzuki’s rational choice of supermini where style kudos has been compromised to maximise space and practicality; Swift wants to be part of the cool gang. The styling is an evolution of the previous generation’s squat look with plenty of round edges to keep the look soft and friendly. There are a choice of seven body colours that complement the Swift including new Burning Red and Speedy Blue. The roof can be finished in contrasting black or silver depending on the body colour for a more unique look.

Interior

The Suzuki Swift has a new interior that looks more modern and is resolutely built. Hard, black plastic features a lot but there is some satin chrome finish that adds a little light relief. The design is simple and understated but overall the cabin lacks soft touch plastics and some of the aesthetic appeal that is becoming more common in this segment. All but the entry model Swift have a touchscreen that controls media and Bluetooth connection, and navigation on top spec models. The system is also compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Practicality

The Suzuki Swift is sold now as five door only. The new Swift is 1cm shorter than the outgoing model and still comes in under four metres in length making it one of the most compact cars in its segment. Yet the boot is now over 50 litres bigger at 265 litres, though still some way off the class best. The car is now wider by 4cm and the front seats have been moved further apart to give more shoulder room. The wheelbase is 2cm longer than the old car so rear seating space has been boosted. Headroom is exceptionally good so new Swift feels anything but small inside. The rear seats split fold 60:40 as standard for more cargo space.

2017 Suzuki Swift
Interior of the new Suzuki Swift

Engines

The range kicks off with a naturally aspirated 1.2-litre petrol unit with 90hp. Suzuki’s 1.0-litre Boosterjet turbo petrol engine is also available with 111hp. There is no diesel option. Some models come with mild hybrid technology badged ‘SVHS’ that boosts efficiency. The 1.0-litre Boosterjet with SVHS has CO2 emissions as low as 97g/km and returns up to 65.7mpg. The 1.2-litre engine provides similar economy. At the launch I sampled both engines. The 1.0-litre is slow to pull off but as the revs climb it becomes more and more responsive, and adds more flexibility and punch for driving on larger roads. The 1.0-litre automatic is an easy, effortless drive and feels more lively off the line. The 1.2-litre was a surprise hit for me. The engine needs to be revved more, but it’s fun to drive and still perky for urban driving.

On the road

The new Suzuki Swift has lost some weight with the lightest model weighing just 890kg. On the road it’s nimble and easy to drive with good visibility all round. There is body roll in the corners when you push things but the Swift grips on remarkably well, and models with Allgrip 4×4 are even better in this regard. The steering is quick and direct but there is not much in the way of feedback reaching the rim. Refinement is good with very little engine noise in the cabin. But at high speed there is some more noticeable road and wind noise. Comfort is generally good but the Swift is caught out by larger imperfections in the road surface.

Equipment

There are three trim levels for new Suzuki Swift in Ireland – SZ3, SZ5 and SZ-T. The SZ3 model comes with the 1.2-litre engine and equipment includes air con, 15” alloys, DAB radio, Bluetooth, LED DRLs, leather steering wheel, front electric windows and rear privacy glass. The SZ5 model has the 1.0-litre Boosterjet engine with SVHS or 1.2-litre with SVHS and Allgrip 4×4. Equipment includes 16” alloys, front fog lamps, rear view camera and touchscreen with smartphone compatibility. Top spec SZ-T models have forward collision alert, navigation, dual zone climate control four electric windows, LED lights front and rear, adaptive cruise control, polished 16” alloys, and keyless entry and start.

2017 Suzuki Swift
The Suzuki Swift goes on sale in Ireland from June

Pricing

The new Suzuki Swift range starts at €14,995 including delivery charges for the 1.2-litre SZ3 model. Boosterjet models in SZ5 trim start from €16,995. SZ-T models start from €18,995. 1.0-litre automatics are available for €2000 more.

Rivals

Suzuki list the SEAT Ibiza, Skoda Fabia, Kia Rio, Mazda2 and Hyundai i20 as the main competition for new Swift.

Verdict

Current Suzuki Swift owners (and there are a lot in Ireland) will see a big improvement all round in the new Swift. It’s lighter and more efficient with more technology. The Suzuki Swift is priced keenly with a good level of standard equipment. The 1.0-litre Boosterjet SZ5 is the sweet spot of the range on price and equipment, and is one of the most affordable turbo powered cars in the segment. The new Suzuki Swift lacks some of the interior polish of the best in class, and shows some limitations in comfort and refinement, but it’s good-looking, nimble and affordable, so will easily find loving homes!

The new Suzuki Swift will be in Irish dealers from mid-May and officially goes on sale from June 2017.

Caroline Kidd

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