A previous Irish Car of the Year winner the Swift has always been a popular car here in Ireland. Its appeal was across a wide spectrum of ages and perceived social class, a feat only achieved by a few cars the Golf and Fiesta to name just two. Unlike the Nissan Micra which won the Continental 2018 Irish Small Car of the Year award with a radical new look, the Swift has resisted the trend for major reconstruction surgery and produced a moderately changed car from what was already a very good looking car. More makeup than knife you could say.
The subtle changes made have made the Swift more curvier and rounded. It’s not as angular as the last model. The areas of attention could lead to charges of it looking like other cars. The rear lights look like they came form a version of the Mini with the headlights looking like quite a lot of cars actually. The standout detail is the pillar mounted rear door handles. Ok, the hidden idea originated in an Alfa Romeo and has had widespread adoption but the inclusion of it in a black band that links the door to the hatch via the C pillar is a bit special and creates a floating roof look. Still it is unmistakably a Swift and current owners will have no argument on how its looks have morphed.
My test model was a beautiful red, Burning Red. Not all cars benefit from red but the Swift really looks ace. Underneath the changes are radical with the Swift the third car from Suzuki to use the new “Heartech” platform that is very light and rigid to deliver a better ride and enhanced safety. The Baleno and Ignis were the first two cars to use the platform.
The headline news on the new swift is it is 10 percent lighter, 19 percent more powerful and 8 percent more fuel-efficient. That’s a big change in power to weight ratio and is certainly very noticeable when driving it. It is very responsive to the go faster pressure from your right foot and all attributable to a 112hp output from the 3-cylinder/1.0 litre engine. Those figures every time I write them still strike me as amazing and how petrol engines have progressed of late and our directed return to them. The other figure is a return of 6.4l/100kms which in a 6 speed automatic car and a carefree driving attitude is nothing short of remarkable and is up their with Peugeot/Citroen with their PureTech engines in delivering real world driving driving economy. Well done.
Inside the immediate impression is one of space. There’s a huge amount of headroom and passenger space and, get this, there is even a proper and decent sized glovebox. The boot is 25% bigger over the last model and is now 265ltrs. The dials are clear, the ergonomics and switch/control layout simple and intuitive and I like the infotainment system.
Diving the Swift was a cinch. It’s as if the car defines the word nippy. It is very responsive and in the automatic version I had I used the paddle shifts a lot with no penalty detected in the fuel return. The delivery of the performance revealed a higher level of tyre noise and the bump absorption isn’t at the level of the wondrous Opel Corsa’s but it’s not far off. In a car worthy of the term nippy the ride is exactly what you’d expect. Its agility is very beguiling and endearing. I love small cars and I haven’t had as much fun in a small car in a long while. I’d really love to see a GTi version released here too.
All isn’t perfect and some improvements which should not be an issue are the dogged retention of hard plastics (must be a cultural thing in Japan) and a split level boot, which are common these days, was missing despite the available space offered up by the non-provision of a spare wheel which I will never accept is right, the wheel that is.
There’s three trim levels, two engine sizes, a SHVS Hybrid and 4WD AllGRIP model if so required with prices starting at €14,995 as well as attractive 0% finance offers. My 1.0 SZ5 Automatic version costs €20,996.
Sales numbers don’t reflect how good this car is and if you want a fun car, that’s ultra reliable, well specified and in my book very cool, the Swift won’t disappoint.
Full details at www.suzuki.ie