On dry roads there’s barely any difference in the driving experience compared to the equivalent front-wheel-drive Swift.
Despite having an additional 65kg to haul around – courtesy of the extra rear differential and connecting shafts – the Swift 4x4 only weighs 1,085kg, so its superb chassis remains agile and alert.
However, the weight penalty means that CO2 jumps by 10g/km, to 126g/km, and fuel economy drops by 5.2mpg, to a claimed 51.3mpg. The 4x4 uses different suspension and dampers, too, raising the ride height by 25mm. This leads to slightly more body roll than in the two-wheel- drive model, but a smoother straight-line ride as a payoff.
The 4x4 clings on impressively when negotiating roundabouts quickly, resisting understeer a bit longer than the normal model, but the difference is minimal.
It takes some work to get the best out of the 1.2-litre engine, but it delivers what little power it has smoothly, while the five-speed gearbox is slick to use, so you can keep the engine buzzing away sweetly.
The gear ratios are lower in the 4x4, something you’ll notice in first and second, to give you extra control when taking to the rough stuff. Despite the raised ride height, the newcomer has the same ground clearance as the standard car as the new rear differential hangs down low.
However, the short wheelbase means it can cope with rutted gravel tracks and big potholes with ease. Grip is impressive when accelerating, even on standard road tyres.
The engine’s 118Nm of torque actually helps keep the wheels from spinning, meaning that acceleration from a standstill on a slippery surface is fuss-free. That said, if you opt for Suzuki’s winter tyre package, the Swift 4x4 would be almost unstoppable in snow.
Rugged-looking front and rear bash plates and plastic cladding on the sills and wheelarches give the SZ4 an extra dose of style, too.