A couple of months in and the feisty little Swift has become a favoured member of the family – and not just because it’s so economical, says Keith Adams.
It’s been an eventful few weeks in the life of the Suzuki Swift DDiS, as you’ll have worked out by the way the mileage has gone up. And for a tiddler that’s supposed to be at its best in town, we’re finding it an absolute breeze to drive on the motorway. But let’s recap about the car – we only gave it a brief introduction last month, and it’s fair to say that our £12,890 SZ3 spec deserves a full run down.
The Hungarian-built Swift DDiS, powered by an Indian-built GM-Joint Venture 1.3-litre turbodiesel is a truly international car. It’s also styled to closely resemble the previous generation model, which is no bad thing given how popular the Swift proved on the UK market. Sadly, the DDiS is only available in mid-range SZ3 form, which denies budget conscious motorists the opportunity of buying a bargain Swift diesel. But strong residuals and that generous equipment list make up for it.
And that’s important: showroom appeal. Suzuki clearly knows what it takes to get the punters into the showrooms with the Swift – it looks smart, comes in some great colours, and rides on very nice looking 16-inch alloy wheels. Jumping in, we love the lofty driving position and excellent forward visibility. There’s plenty of stowage space upfront too, with roomy door bins, a spacious glovebox and a nice lidded cubby on top of the dashboard. If that isn’t enough, there’s also storage areas between the front seats and a nice rubberised shelf under the stereo, where you’ll obviously end up resting your iPod or mobile phone. This is clearly a car designed for people who really use their car. Additional niceties are the iPod/MP3 compatible stereo which, like the rest of the dashboard, is stacked with big, clearly labelled buttons. Initially the sound quality seems lacking in bass, but up the volume and it produces a big and expansive sound that will keep most drivers more than happy.
Passengers and luggage are slightly less well catered for. The rear accommodation is excellent, with wide opening doors and plenty of knee and headroom, and we won’t complain about that – but the boot is a let-down with the rear seats in place. The loading lip is high, and the opening restricted. It’s small, too, and you can see that Suzuki has placed its emphasis on passenger space. The rear seat back almost touches the back window and the parcel shelf is literally two centimetres in length!
Driving the Swift is a mixed bag – largely excellent, but marred by a couple of niggles. We’ll get those out of the way first so we can talk about the good stuff. The turbodiesel engine can be quite raucous, especially when cold. At constant speed running and in gentle driving, it subsides to a hum, but put your foot down, and it emits a gargly rattle that has me worrying about the oil level. Not to worry, because the expectation is that it will quieten down as the miles pile on – indeed, it is already better than it was when new. The other one is throttle lag – it’s sometimes easy to forget the car’s only being pulled along by a 1.3-litre engine, so well does it go on boost. But let it come off boost, and you’re left floundering. Even worse, if you don’t give it a boot full of throttle exiting a side road, and you’re staring down the barrel of an embarrassing no-go situation. Keen drivers will soon learn to drive around these holes, but it takes acclimatisation when jumping out of a more conventional, larger diesel powered car.
Other than that, it’s great. The steering is light and accurate – it’s light when parking and perfectly geared for zipping in and out of tight city gaps. The excellent visibility helps massively too, and the gear change is absolutely sublime. But don’t think that just because the Swift’s excellent around town it won’t do motorways, too. At the legal limit, it cruises along effortlessly – far more so than its relatively modest 74bhp output would have you believe. In long runs both to North Wales and Scotland, it delivered excellent fuel consumption – around 59mpg without trying too hard. Cruising is reasonably quiet, too. A number of colleagues have driven the Swift during the past month, and the comments have been telling: “it’s really good” seems to be the most common – and women seem to love it. Perhaps Suzuki is on to something with the Swift. It’s going to be an interesting few months.
Suzuki Swift 1.3 DDiS SZ3
|Price when new:||£12,890|
|Price as tested (including options):||£13,289|
|Optional extras:||Metallic paint|
|Engine:||1248cc, 4 cylinder, turbodiesel|
|Power output:||74bhp at 4,000rpm|
|Maximum torque:||140lb ft at 1,750rpm|
|Maximum towing weight:||900kg|
|Fuel consumption:||67.3mpg (official combined)
57.1mpg (on test)
|CO2 emissions (Taxband):||109g/gm (B)|
|Benefit in kind tax liability:||13%|
|Size (Length/width with mirrors):||3,850/1,695m|
|Boot space (Minimum/maximum):||211/528litres|
|EuroNCAP safety rating:||5 stars|
|Date arrived:||16th June 2011|
|Mileage to date:||3,350miles|
|Costs to date:||None|
|Faults to date:||None|