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Suzuki Swift 1.2 SZ4

It’s already won one group test; now, new star aims to establish itself at the top

The latest Suzuki Swift has made quite an impression since it arrived in showrooms late last year. Despite looking remarkably similar to its predecessor, the Japanese supermini has been turned into a real class contender, scoring a narrow victory in its first group test encounter.

At the heart of the Swift’s appeal are its grown-up driving dynamics, remarkable refinement and great value for money – so if the Nissan wants to succeed in our test, this is the car to beat.

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But it’s first blood to the Suzuki. With its handsome and neatly proportioned lines, the Swift packs plenty of kerb appeal. The car in our pictures is a range-topping SZ4, yet apart from the standard-fit alloy wheels and privacy glass, it looks virtually identical to the entry-level SZ2 example we actually tested.

Inside, the Suzuki leads the way once again, thanks to its excellent build and quality materials. Most of the plastics are soft to the touch, while the heating and stereo controls have a classy, rubberised finish. Better still, the dash is logically laid out and attractively styled – although you get rake adjustment for the steering only on the flagship SZ4. The Swift falls behind its rivals in the space race, though. Driver and front passenger get plenty of room, but rear head and legroom is compromised. Meanwhile, there’s a miserly 213-litre load capacity with the seats in place – that’s a massive 82 litres less than the Hyundai.

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In isolation, the Suzuki appears well equipped, as it boasts luxuries such as electric windows, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and remote central locking. However, take a closer look and you’ll find that desirable additions such as air-con have been left out – you’ll need to spend £11,690 on the higher-spec SZ3 to get this must-have kit, as it can’t even be specified as an option on the lowly SZ2.

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Fortunately, the Swift claws back some ground – and lives up to its name – on the track. 

Its 93bhp 1.2-litre engine is the most powerful unit on test, and it propelled the car from 0-60mph in 10.8 seconds – that’s nine-tenths faster than the i20.Better still, the four-cylinder is keen to rev and remarkably refined, which helps make the Suzuki a surprisingly relaxing long-distance cruiser.

Away from the motorway, it’s the Swift’s sporty chassis that shines the brightest. On twisting back roads, its poise and agility never fail to raise a smile, while the well weighted steering matches more costly hot hatch models for quick reactions and feedback. The icing on the cake is the slick and precise action of the five-speed gearbox, plus the effective and progressive brakes.

But what’s really impressive is the fact that the focused driving dynamics don’t come at the expense of ride comfort: the Suzuki shrugs off bumps and potholes that the other cars thump and crash over.

Adding to its immense appeal is the attractive £10,670 price and superior residuals. So, is it a second victory on the trot for the Swift – or will its bigger and better-equipped rivals have the final word in this encounter?

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Chart position: 1
WHY: New Swift is bigger and better than ever, backed up by the fact it took victory on its road test debut. Can it win again?

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