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Traditional values – Suzuki Swift review

With its fourth-generation Swift Suzuki hopes to attract buyers who still want a small car but are facing a declining choice in the supermini market.
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1 May 2024

What is it?

The new Suzuki Swift is first and foremost a traditional supermini. While it includes a mild hybrid in its powertrain, it eschews the move to all-electric power and SUVs, being a small car propelled by a three-cylinder petrol engine.

Suzuki makes no bones about promoting this fact – now 40 years old, the Swift badge is one of the most highly regarded in the Japanese manufacturer’s range and with little surprise as it’s sold more than nine million of them. And, Suzuki argues, there are plenty of people driving traditional superminis who when they come to replace them will want another supermini – they don’t want to go into an SUV, while they don’t want, and in many cases can’t afford, to go electric.

And what stokes Suzuki’s confidence is the fact that other manufacturers have been getting out of small cars, which means some of the Swift’s previous major rivals, including the biggest one of all, won’t be up against the new one – it won’t be competing against the likes of the Nissan Micra, the Kio Rio and of course the Ford Fiesta, for decades the best-selling car of all.

Of course the EV-slanted incentives in the fleet sector these days will restrict the potential business market for Suzuki’s new baby, but it could appeal to some user-choosers, especially those who can’t, or won’t, make the electric switch. So it’s no surprise that the new car is in many ways an evolution of a previous package recognised as a solid, affordable buy.

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The exterior is certainly evolutionary, the new car clearly recognisable on first viewing as the archetypal small Suzuki. Inside rather more has been done, with a significant redesign more pertinently angling the instruments towards the driver to promote a cockpit-like feel, and all finished in a bright and attractive two-tone style.

Under the bonnet it’s all change too – this Swift employs a brand-new three-cylinder engine of 1.2 litres, promising both more power and efficiency. It’s combined as standard with a five-speed manual gearbox, with a CVT auto also available. Suzuki has also retained something that really marks it out from the small-car crowd – like its predecessor, and the successful Ignis mini-SUV, the Swift can be had with the brand’s Allgrip all-wheel-drive. No it’s not an off-roader but with road surfaces and the UK climate becoming all the more extreme, all-wheel-drive is a safety extra not to be dismissed.

What will mark every new version of the Swift out is the lack of an options list combined with a standard-equipment list that is both very long and includes features one would not expect in any supermini. Just two trim levels are on offer, Motion and Ultra, and there’s an argument for not bothering with the Ultra as on a Motion you get such niceties as adaptive cruise control, keyless entry and start, a wireless smartphone link and a parking camera.

This particularly applies to the safety package. Suzuki had its fingers burnt with the previous Swift – at a time before autonomous emergency braking was mandatory it was only available in an option pack, part of the reason the Swift only earned a three-star Euro NCAP safety rating, upped to four with the option pack. The new model has no such restrictions, every version fitted with a very wide suite of active safety aids extending to some more typically offered as extras, such as a blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert.

Further value is added by the warranty. Again criticised in the past for a paltry three-years of protection, Suzuki now has a system where the first dealer service after the expiry of said warranty activates another year, and this can continue up to seven years/100,000 miles.

What do we think?

From the outside the new Swift is easy on the eye, the exterior advances amounting to gentle aerodynamic improvements rather than anything particularly radical. The more extensive reworking of the interior, with a neat two-tone finish, gives it a much more up-to-date look but with sensible traditional elements – the driver’s display is digital and thus includes such aspects as navigation instructions directly in the field of view, but these are framed by proper dials, digital units but still in the easy-to-read familiar style.

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The way the controls are more obviously angled towards the driver is effective, and the placing of the infotainment screen very high on the centre console makes for easy viewing. The surfacing remains more hard plastic than soft-touch, but this is a minor criticism considering the value for money of the overall package.

More basic requirements are met too – the Swift is slightly more compact in its overall dimensions than several of its rivals, yet still provides all occupants with plenty of headroom and rear-seat passengers with adequate legroom. At 265 litres (expanding to 589 with the rear seats folded) the boot is not the largest but adequate.

The official figures for the new petrol engine of the Swift are 82hp and 112Nm of torque, producing plus 60mpg fuel economy and a 0-62mph time of 12.2 seconds. This might not sound like the car lives up to its model name, but it doesn’t feel particularly slow. The mild hybrid assistance helps in particular with pulling strongly through the gears under acceleration, but another major factor is the Swift’s light weight of just 949kg in manual front-wheel-drive form.

Combine this with light and direct steering and a tauter than typical in this market while not over-stiff suspension and the result is a surprisingly nimble car – it plants itself on the road and produces a drive which is surprisingly fun while not at all demanding.

Overall the Swift remains a solidly built, attractive and affordable supermini. Factor in the extensive equipment and its becomes a serious value-for money proposition.


Tested model: Suzuki Swift FWD Ultra

Max power:  82hp

Max Torque: 112Nm

Top speed:   103mph

0-62mph: 12.2 seconds

Fuel economy (WLTP combined): 64.2mpg

CO2 Emissions: 99g/km

BIK: 24%

OTR price: £19,799 (range starts £18,699)

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Andrew Charman

Andrew Charman

Andrew Charman has been a motoring journalist for more than 30 years, writing about vehicles, technology and the industry. He is a Guild of Motoring Writers committee member and has won several awards including for his business coverage.

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