Suzuki Swift review - Engines, performance and drive
Lightweight and reasonably agile, the Swift is decent to drive but ride quality isn't great
The Swift features some very trick construction that means it’s just about the lightest car in the supermini class, with even the SZ5 4x4 model weighing less than 1000kg - a minor miracle in this day and age. The 82bhp offered by the 1.2-litre Dualjet motor sounds small by modern standards, but the Swift's light weight means that it still feels enthusiastic, while working the slick and smooth five-speed manual gearbox gets the best out of the engine.
The rest of the basics feel sound enough. The steering doesn’t do an amazing job of communicating what the front wheels are doing but it’s nicely weighted and consistent, making it relatively easy to place the Swift in corners. The five-speed manual gearbox has a pleasingly short throw and is happy enough to shift quickly, too.
That lack of mass means the Swift feels pretty agile, too – not as crisp as the Ford Fiesta, certainly, but a match for just about anything else. The car is happy to change direction quickly and it stays admirably flat in corners. Unique to the class is the AllGrip all-wheel drive system available on SZ5 models, which offers extra traction and security. While its cheap and rugged enough to do a decent job off-road, it offers only limited appeal to buyers.
Car group tests
- Citroen C3 vs Suzuki Swift: 2021 group test review
- Micra N-Sport vs Ibiza FR Sport vs Swift Sport
- Suzuki Swift Sport vs Volkswagen up! GTI vs Ford Fiesta
Ride quality is the trade-off for this agility; Suzuki’s engineers reportedly spent time developing the Swift on UK roads, but it hasn’t quite paid off. In the most part it stays composed, but over broken surfaces – precisely the sort of bumps and potholes that are common on British B-roads, in fact – it gets a bit unsettled. In particular, passengers in the rear are likely to complain about being bounced around - a result of the car’s relatively simple torsion-beam rear suspension set-up and low weight.
Mild-hybrid tech for the 1.2-litre engine uses a lithium-ion battery under the front passenger seat that harnesses braking energy and then uses it to power a small integrated starter generator. This, in turn, helps the petrol engine when you’re accelerating, but the goal is efficiency rather than performance, so it never feels like an extra surge of pace. Indeed, if anything, it’s impressively well integrated.
The hot Swift Sport has a decent breadth of talents, with a punchy engine and direct steering, but it's undone by handling that plays it too safe; as a result, other hot hatches are more exciting to drive.
Engines, 0-60 acceleration and top speed
The 1.2 Dualjet petrol unit produces 82bhp and 107Nm of torque. Opting for the four-wheel-drive set-up of the SZ5 model brings the slowest 0-62mph time in the range at 13.8 seconds, while the front-wheel-drive car trims this time to 13.1 seconds - both use a five-speed manual gearbox. The CVT auto versions are capable of the same sprint in 12.2 seconds.
The Swift Sport offers 127bhp from its 1.4-litre turbocharged engine. This doesn't sound like much but, given the Swift's low weight, and the engine's decent 235Nm of torque, it's satisfyingly brisk when shooting out of corners. 0-62mph is dispatched in 9.1 seconds, with a top speed of 130mph.
In this review
- 1Suzuki Swift reviewThe Suzuki Swift offers a decent drive and reasonable practicality, although rivals are more refined
- 2Engines, performance and drive - currently readingLightweight and reasonably agile, the Swift is decent to drive but ride quality isn't great
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsThe Suzuki Swift delivers strong fuel efficiency, although insurance costs might prove to be a little high
- 4Interior, design and technologyBuild quality feels good, but the finish of even higher-spec cars is durable rather than plush
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceThe Swift's compact dimensions mean it's a great urban runabout; easy to manoeuvre through traffic and park in tight spots
- 6Reliability and SafetyThe Swift features a good level of safety kit, although Suzuki only offers average warranty cover