Who said fun had to cost a bomb?
Ah, the Suzuki Swift. In a day and age where small cars endeavour to look and feel like big cars, you can always count on the Swift to stay exactly where it needs to be. Small, characterful, and agile, the Swift is just like its name suggests, and offers the ability to have a giggle or four during your daily commute or on a weekend jaunt.
Tipping the scales at (well) less than a tonne, the Suzuki Swift is a whole bag of fun, delivering a degree of driving character and colour that you just don’t see often anymore. Cars like the Volkswagen Polo seek to isolate you from the world around you, while on the other hand, you get cars like Suzuki’s own Baleno that are so no-nonsense in their approach that you have to actively console yourself with the fact you paid next to nothing for it. The Swift sits between those two extremes, offering a really wonderful, enjoyable throwback experience for hot-hatch veterans while still being up-to-date enough to not be left for dead by the hashtag generation.
It’s small, it looks good, and it’s really good value. Is there anything not to love about the Suzuki Swift?
“The new Swift is a little wider, but it is shorter in length and height.” — WhatCar
The Suzuki Swift has always been a likeable, attractive car, and the new Swift is no different. It manages to look cutesy without being embarrassing, while offering enough machismo that it won’t look intimidated on the road. Suzuki fashions themselves as a compact car specialist, and clearly their experience in designing and packaging small cars has paid dividends here.
The front of the Swift looks friendly and positive, while the sides of the car incorporate those typically-contemporary touches like the blacked-out C-pillar and floating roof design, with the former also rather niftily hiding the handles for the rear doors.
The rear of the Swift aims to highlight that this is a compact car, with a pert rear end that’s easy to place into tight parking spaces, with LED taillights framing the whole affair. The Swift, as a whole, is a very resolved, funky little thing, definitely bringing some of the newfound design verve of the marque that we first saw with the Ignis.
Engine & Drivetrain
“New drivetrains and lighter weight have markedly improved combined-cycle fuel consumption figures, without detriment to performance.” — Motoring
The Suzuki Swift is on offer with two drivetrains, though both of them petrol. The base GL model is offered with a 1.2-litre petrol motor, married to a five-speed manual gearbox, sending power to the front wheels. If you and your Swift aren’t going to venture out of town very often, this will likely be the most appealing drivetrain for you, with 66kW and 120Nm on offer, and capable of returning sub-5.0L/100km fuel consumption if you’re careful.
Step up above the GL to the GL-Navigator and you get a CVT automatic gearbox as standard. The manual is not offered elsewhere in the range.
The fruitiest and most entertaining drivetrain is offered on the flagship model, the GLX Turbo. As the name suggests, under the bonnet you’ll find a three-cylinder turbocharged petrol mill, that offers a healthy 82kW/160Nm, though this model gets its own six-speed automatic gearbox. While that might not seem like alot, it’s worth remembering that the Swift is a remarkably light car, tipping the scales between 870kg and 915kg (depending on trim). As such, the 160Nm on offer in the turbo feels absolutely immense, and the 5.1L/100km rated fuel consumption means that having fun in the Swift won’t cost you too dearly.
“Suzuki’s expertise in compact cars shines through in the cabin of the Swift.” — Drive
The Swift was designed from the outset to be an affordable, practical family car, and the cabin reflects that focus. We’d describe the plastics employed as hard-wearing and likely to weather a lifetime of abuse without complaint, though they’d hardly be called ‘plush.’ Hard plastics dominate the interior, though at least again, Suzuki’s flexed its design knowhow to break up the monotony.
There’s decent space in the front, while the rear is surprisingly commodious for a small car. It isn’t particularly wide (though neither are its competitors). The cabin is peppered with practical touches like bottle-holders in the door bins, but while there are two cupholders for the front seats, there’s only one in the back. Shame.
Further back, you’ll find a decent 242L boot, which is par for the segment. Should you find yourself at a flat-pack furniture store over the weekend, you’ll appreciate the standard 60:40 split-folding rear seats, which expand cargo room to up to 947L.
Behind The Wheel
“The Swift has a long-standing reputation for being among the most dynamic offerings in its class, and this new version happily continues that tradition.” — CarsGuide
With SUVs becoming the default transport for so many, it’s easy to forget the amount of fun that can be had in a small, nippy family car. And if you’ve forgotten that fun, the Swift is perhaps the best car to get reacquainted with the joys of sneaking giggles through corners.
With a low centre of gravity, perky engines, and little weight, the Suzuki Swift is nearly the perfect city car. The compact proportions means that you’ll happily nip through traffic and squeeze into parking spaces, while the well-judged suspension means that there’s little to break your stride. With the turbocharged mill, the Swift is an absolute riot, and it’s easily the most fun to be had in this segment.
Move onto the open road, and the rose-tint on your glasses can fade slightly. That light weight meant that compromises had to be made, and they were made in towards motorway refinement. You hear a fair bit of road and wind noise, though mercifully, the ride is resolved.
Safety & Technology
“The active cruise control, which is standard in the GLX Turbo or optional as part of the safety pack for the GL Navigator.” — Motoring
Safety is well catered for in the Suzuki Swift. All cars get electronic stability control, daytime running lights, and six airbags. GL Navigator and above get a 7.0-inch touchscreen that looks good and runs smoothly, and offers Apple and Android smartphone mirroring solutions. Hill-hold assistance also gets added from this level upwards.
An option on the GL Navigator and standard on the GLX Turbo is adaptive cruise control, something that’s rarely seen in this segment, which helps maintain a preset speed on the motorway, slowing down whenever it detects a slower vehicle ahead of you and resuming your preset speed when the road is clear. Further, you get autonomous emergency braking and lane departure warning, too.
The GLX Turbo gets a bunch of goodies exclusive to the flagship, though. There’s climate control available, along with keyless entry and go. The headlights get swapped out for really, really bright LEDs, replete with automatic high-beam.
The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) awarded the Suzuki Swift a full 5-stars for all but the base variant, which garnered only 4-stars due to its 'lack of active safety technology.'
The compact car segment might not be quite as lively as it used to be, but the Suzuki Swift is an excellent example of how much fun there is to be had in a small, practical hatchback. Even without the peppier turbo mill, the Swift is just bags and bags of fun, and has everything you need to let the stresses go and get a smile back on your face between work and home after a tiring day.
Direct steering, little weight, and great features, wrapped up in a likeable package reinforced by unwavering reliability. What’s not to like?
Sure, cars like the Volkswagen Polo offer a more matured experience behind the wheel, but it’s also a fair bit dearer than the Swift. If anything, the fact that the Swift is so likeable and amazing value speaks volume about how capable Suzuki is at making fun, practical, and liveable small cars. The Swift, in this latest iteration, will happily maintain its place as one of the most popular compact hatchbacks on the market.
WhichCar? — 4.0/5.0 — “The new-generation Suzuki Swift packs a lot of driver appeal into a short, lightweight hatchback, bringing some fun to your commute and handling country drives capably. The Suzuki Swift was one of the six finalists of the 2018 Wheels Car of the Year, and impressed judges by how it punched above its weight for build, ride, and driving enjoyment.”
Motoring — 73/100 — “All up, the new Swift is a marked improvement on the old car in so many ways. It is truly an ‘all-new’ car. As well, it’s fun to drive and represents good value.”
CarAdvice — 8.0/10 — “The new Suzuki Swift aims to keep the charm that made its predecessors so enduringly popular, while adding a veneer of modern tech and safety. Job mostly done.”
Drive — 6.5/10 — “Suzuki has continued its strong recent form by creating a city car that is as good as, if not better than, most of its rivals. It’s fun, funky, and efficient, but whether that’s enough to woo buyers back from baby SUVs and small cars remains to be seen. But if you want city-sized transport with style and substance, the Swift should loom large.”
CarsGuide — 7.1/10 — “Cheap and cheerful, sure, but how cheap or how cheerful depends on which trim level you opt for. For ours, the GL Navigator Safety Pack is the pick here, offering a strong mix of technology and safety equipment without breaking the budget.”
Autocar — 3.5/5.0 — “On obvious merits, the Swift offers impressive value for money, to the point where it embarrasses some of the competition.”
AutoExpress — 3.0/5.0 — “The new Suzuki Swift offers a decent drive and reasonable practicality, although rivals are more refined and have better-finished cabins.”
WhatCar? — 3.0/5.0 — “The Suzuki Swift has tidy handling and a strong turbo engine, but its ride and interior quality are a little disappointing.”