Family outings in the Harris household have just got a whole lot easier. While I truly loved my dearly departed Citroen DS3
, its three-door set-up made it a back-breaking choice for taking my gorgeous grand-daughter for weekend trips to the park.
However, the latest arrival in the Auto Express car park is proving to be the perfect replacement for the DS3. With its five-door layout, our Suzuki Swift
1.3 DDiS is just the ticket as family-friendly transport.
Now my grand-daughter, Evie, is 15 months old, she needs a larger, forward-facing child seat. Her Concord Absorber XT is comfortable and safe, but its bulky size means it has to be fitted to an Isofix-equipped rear bench. This meant getting her in and out of the DS3 required the body of a contortionist. The same operation in the Swift is easier, as its wide-opening rear doors make access a doddle. Yet the Suzuki is much more than a one-trick pony.
For a start, the Suzuki is a capable long-distance cruiser. A recent trip to Oxford involved a slog round the M25 and up the M40, which the little car took in its stride.
The ride and refinement are excellent, plus the torquey 1.3-litre diesel engine has no trouble keeping up with faster flowing traffic. Away from the motorway, the diesel suffers from a little bit of turbo lag at low revs, but if you keep your foot on the throttle, the car takes off like a rocket.
Car group tests
Admittedly, the engine gets noisy when extended, but this can be remedied by turning up the volume on ‘The Wheels on the Bus’ or ‘Old McDonald’s Farm’!
The Swift’s big-car feel extends beyond its comfortable cruising credentials, as in SZ3 trim you get plenty of desirable standard kit. Air-conditioning, iPod connection, seven airbags and ESP all feature, as do attractive 15-inch alloy wheels. The only extras I’d like to add are sat-nav and Bluetooth connectivity, but sadly neither is available as an option.
Still, there’s an abundance of storage cubbies and cup-holders scattered around the cabin – the door pockets, handily shaped to carry water bottles, are especially useful. The front seats are incredibly supportive, while the height and reach-adjustable steering makes it easy to find the perfect driving position.
Downsides? Well, even by supermini standards, rear legroom is tight. Versatility is further hampered by the 211-litre boot, which only just swallows Evie’s pushchair. At least, there’s a 60/40 split/fold function.
Other than these gripes, the robust cabin is impressive. There’s a high-quality feel about the materials and build, plus the chunky switchgear is easy to use. Elsewhere, the red illumination used for the dials looks classy, and is soothing on the eyes when driving at night.
All in all the Swift has made a strong first impression. Not only does it look good and drive well, it boasts excellent refinement and five-door versatility.
And although it’s spent plenty of time stuck in stop-start traffic, the diesel is returning an excellent 51.7mpg at the pumps. That’s great news for Evie, because the less cash I fork out on fuel, the more I have to spend on exciting family days out.
“As with its petrol-engined cousin, it’s the Swift’s excellent ride and handling balance that really stands out. On a twisting back road, the Suzuki feels poised and agile, while the steering is direct and well weighted. Yet these sporty responses don’t come at the expense of a supple ride, as the car takes bumpy surfaces in its stride.”
James Disdale, Deputy Road Test Editor