In-depth reviews

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.

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.

Next Steps

Which Is Best

Cheapest

  • Name
    1.2 Dualjet 83 12V Hybrid SZ-L 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £14,841

Most Economical

  • Name
    1.2 Dualjet 83 12V Hybrid SZ-L 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £14,841

Fastest

  • Name
    1.4 Boosterjet 48V Hybrid Sport 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £21,892

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