Published on August 3rd, 2017 | by Seán Ward0
The New Suzuki Swift: More Proof That Small Cars Are Fun
Once again we find ourselves in the new 2017 Suzuki Swift. On our last adventure with the Swift back in March we were darting between Nice, Cannes and Monaco, a drive that sounds hugely glamorous but one that was hindered slightly by traffic. As it turns out, there are quite a few cars on the road near Monaco at 5pm.
Now it’s time to try the Swift in the UK on our less than ideal roads, and get to know it a little better over the course of a full week.
First, some statistics. Compared to the outgoing model, the new Swift is 10% lighter, 19% faster and 8% more fuel efficient across the range. The improvement in efficiency will probably grab the headlines, but less weight and extra performance will make this new Swift even better to drive than the old model, and the old one wasn’t exactly dull.
The car you see here is a Boosterjet SZ5 SHVS. Boosterjet means this car has a 1.0 litre, three-cylinder turbocharged engine with 110bhp and 125lb/ft of torque. SZ5 means this is a top spec car, with goodies like sat-nav, a reversing camera, cruise control and Apple CarPlay. SHVS stands for ‘Smart Hybrid Vehicle by Suzuki’ because, yes, this little Swift has a hybrid powertrain. More specifically, this is a ‘mild hybrid’ system, meaning all the hybrid tech fits into a very small space under the passenger seat and weighs less than 10kg.
0-62mph is over in a leisurely 10.6 seconds and the top speed is 121mph. Neither of those figures sound particularly impressive, but I promise you the torque from the hybrid system really does make a difference to the driving experience.
Aside from saving you fuel (Suzuki reckons you’ll manage around 65mpg), the extra torque at low revs really helps shoot the car forward from as little as 1,500rpm, where normally you’d probably be waiting around until 2,500-3,000rpm before the engine actually started to pick up. The new Swift might not be fast, but it doesn’t feel as slow as the numbers suggest either.
All the car’s controls are light but nice to use. The Swift has a variable ratio steering system, and while the wheel doesn’t communicate every little detail of the road surface it’s a quick, responsive and intuitive system.
Similarly, the five-speed manual gearbox is light but accurate, and the brakes are light but responsive with a decent feel to the brake pedal itself. Everything bodes well for the new Swift Sport next year.
As the Swift weighs just 890kg at its lightest and just over 900kg with all the hybrid gubbins, the car feels small and eager. There’s a surprising amount of grip in both the wet and the dry, and the car just seems to take corners with very little fuss at all.
The Swift is comfortable, too. There are times when the suspension feels a bit basic, but for a small car it doesn’t feel out of its depth on a long journey, nor does it roll around every time you get to a corner. Again, it all bodes well for the Swift Sport.
As for the looks, I wasn’t convinced at first. Under the lights of the Geneva Motor Show back in March I thought it looked like an old Swift that had been left in the sun for too long, but now, away from the bright lights of the motor show and out on the road, I think it looks rather good. It’s a familiar shape with a fresh twist.
The interior is an improvement, too, and probably the best interior of any Suzuki on sale. It feels well made and of a decent quality, and everything feels as if it was designed for this car rather than built somewhere else and wedged in (the nav screen in the Suzuki Ignis is a good example).
If you’re looking for a new small car, don’t ignore the Swift. It’s the best car Suzuki makes and a very capable replacement for its predecessor. It’s also really good to drive, with simple, predictable characteristics, is efficient, and weighs about the same as a matchbox.
Now, let’s all just sit patiently for the Sport.