The Suzuki Swift is a compact, lightweight and fun to drive supermini, it also has a mild hybrid system and all-wheel drive, making it rather unique.
The Suzuki Swift has had an enthusiastic following over the years and now there’s a new model with hybrid technology, and all-wheel drive is even available, so is this a supermini that you should consider?
The Suzuki Swift 1.2 SZ5 SHVS Allgrip has a 4-cylinder, 1.2-litre petrol engine, a 5-speed manual ‘box, and front-wheel drive. There’s no turbo, but it does have hybrid technology, known as SHVS (Smart Hybrid Vehicle by Suzuki). This is actually a mild hybrid system, so you won’t be able to drive anywhere on electric power. This Swift also features Allgrip all-wheel drive.
We think the new Swift looks good on the outside, although if you look at the upright windscreen from the driver’s seat it feels like you’re in old MINI. And the MINI resemblance also applies to the interior space; although the Swift has compact exterior dimensions, there’s actually a decent amount of space in the interior and the boot.
The Swift is fun to drive. There’s one key reason for this: it weighs just 980 kg. It also has a non-turbo engine. This is very rare these days, and although there are good reasons why most rivals have a turbo, it means that the Swift has a unique character. And this Swift has all-wheel drive. And a mild hybrid system. The result of all this is that the Swift has the fun driving experience of an old MINI Cooper, but with all-wheel drive, and technology which switches off the engine at standstill, and it does this, as well as restarting the engine, so you barely notice.
So there’s a direct driving experience, decent handling, and lots of grip. Less impressive is the ride quality, which doesn’t deliver a comfortable ride over our potholed urban road surfaces.
And then there’s the experience on motorways. There are only five gears, and a small engine, so at 70mph the revs are high, which means lots of noise.
While we’re on the subject of the gears, the Swift certainly doesn’t have the slickest shifting gearbox. And gear changes aren’t helped by the clutch footrest, which is too close to the clutch, meaning that it can get in the way when using the clutch.
The interior is what you’d expect of a Japanese car at this end of the market. You do get a central touchscreen, although it’s a very shallow letterbox format, and it’s at the opposite end of the scale compared to some of the latest stylish, high quality European infomedia systems. However the satnav works adequately, and there’s also a useful reversing camera.
The steering wheel adjusts for height and reach, and it’s easy to insert Isofix car seats.
The official WLTP combined fuel economy for the Suzuki Swift 1.2 SZ5 SHVS Allgrip is 49.7mpg, with (NEDC) CO2 emissions of 101g/km.
At 70mph on the motorway we managed 53.4mpg and overall after a week of mixed driving we averaged 49.9mpg, which almost matches the official WLTP economy figure exactly.
The mild hybrid system should reduce emissions when at a standstill.
The Suzuki Swift 1.2 SZ5 SHVS Allgrip costs £17,749. Our test car had one option, metallic single-tone paint (£485), taking the total price to £18,234.
The Swift is available in three trim levels, SZ3, SZ-T and SZ5 as tested. As well as the 1.2 Litre Dualjet engine, with SHVS coming as standard on SZ5 manual models, there’s also a Boosterjet turbocharged engine.
The Swift SZ5 1.2 Dualjet SHVS manual comes with Allgrip Auto 4-wheel drive, and there’s also the option of a 6-speed automatic transmission.
The Suzuki Swift has a lightweight, characterful driving experience, with direct responses from its non-turbo powertrain, lots of grip from its all-wheel drive chassis, and its mild hybrid system aims to ensure that emissions are reduced at standstill. At less than £18,000 (or much less than this for lower spec models) it also offers good value. On the downside, ride quality is poor on potholed urban roads, and refinement is lacking at motorway speeds. So this Swift is a niche proposition: if you don’t drive in urban areas with poor road surfaces, or on motorways, and if you like a driving experience with character, as well as the grip of all-wheel drive, then the Swift could be for you. It gains a Green Car Guide rating of 7 out of 10.