First Drive: The Suzuki Swift offers a compelling drive – especially at entry level

Staff
By Staff
8 Min Read

The new Suzuki Swift which enters the fray as a fourth-generation model presents excellent value for money with its generous level of kit, mild-hybrid technology, and impressive fuel economy.

With prices starting at £18,699 and with predicted residual values (RVs) presaging significant value retention in addition to low-cost finance options starting at £189 per month, what is arguably Suzuki’s last petrol iteration will no doubt come to represent the popular model’s triumphant swansong.

AM opted for the 2WD model equipped with a manual gearbox with entry-level Motion trim, putting the car through its paces on a combination of city and rural roads.

Its efficiency is commendable, with the 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol engine boasting up to 64.2 mpg and CO2 emissions at just 99 g/km supported by mild-hybrid assistance from an integrated starter generator that proves its worth on acceleration and when using its stop/start system.

The latest Swift is also equipped with some comprehensive safety features including collision sensors, lane-keeping assistance and blind-spot monitoring which come as standard making it eminently fit for purpose in its small car segment.

Safety ratings from Euro NCAP are still to be delivered although the Swift’s pedigree will no doubt make this a formality.

Contender

The latest generation of Swift emerges as a prime contender in the supermini category. Indeed, the absence of the Ford Fiesta, Nissan Micra, and Kia Rio means the Swift will likely not struggle to hold its own in what remains a sizeable potential market.

That potential has already attracted the likes of the Renault Clio and Vauxhall Corsa which have undergone meaningful updates and the Swift follows suit admirably.

While passenger space remains unchanged from previous iterations, it is adequate for its class. Cabin comfort is good complemented as it is by supportive seating and while the quality of the interior may strike some as disappointingly standard compared to category rivals – dominated as it is by hard plastic – the aesthetic of its interior surfaces is improved by a two-tone dashboard and the use of an effective light colourway and textural cabin touches.

In terms of delivering a satisfying drive, the Swift’s engine delivers improved torque and fuel efficiency thanks to the new mild-hybrid technology and despite modest power, offering a surprisingly rewarding performance.

Lighweight and nimble especially in an urban enviornment, the Swift delivers a reasonably quiet cabin and good comfort level with heated seats and adjustable steering wheel height. While its comfort was rated highly by AM, its firm suspension was evident when travelling over road humps even at sensible speeds.

An angled 9-in touchscreen and bank of climate controls that are driver-oriented have been well thought through while wireless smartphone connectivity through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto means interaction can be kept to a minimum while driving.

With a starting price of £18,699, the entry-level Motion trim offers excellent value, featuring LED headlights, keyless entry and advanced safety features as standard.

The higher-spec Ultra trim models offer additional features at an additonal higher £1,000 price point should you wish to add to the already generous offering afforded by the Motion variant.

Suzuki is also supporting the Swift with a three-year/60,000-mile warranty as standard, extending it to seven years or 100,000 miles at periodic servicing intervals.

Verdict

In a market dominated by SUVs, the updated Suzuki Swift acquits itself splendidly.

Small, competent and, essentially fun to drive, the latest version of the popular model is complemented by contemporary safety features and huge fuel economy.

All told, the fourth-generation of Suzuki Swift will undoubtedly guarantee itself a place within the ranks of the leading superminis – perfect for short commutes and as a family runaround workhorse equipped with a perfectly adequate interior and boot space meeting expectations for its segment.

Strategy

Suzuki GB director Dale Wyatt tells AM that the Japanese manufacturer has worked hard to produce a value proposition with attractive RVs determined through a combination of judgments issued by Cap HPI. Glass’s Guide, Motability and Suzuki’s own funder Blackhorse.

“To launch a new car with a high residual value is a positive thing. If you overindex the pricing of it you undermine the RV and RVs give all the stakeholders confidence,” he explains.

The marketing strategy for the latest generation of the Swift is equally ambiitous and will be launched in two phases.

“Phase one will be to our existing owners,” says Wyatt. “We have over 5,000 UK customers currently driving a previous generation Swift with a PCP and our strong residual value means that the majority of those customers can access a new Swift at the same monthly payment as they are paying at the moment. There’s a big retention opportunity there and we want to focus on that.”

That phase will last through until June before the second phase commences which will involve conquest marketing with an above the line campaign through digital CRM, radio and outdoor channels.

“It’s going to be a heavyweight campaign with an all-new TV ad that we’re making in the UK at the moment,” says the Suzuki GB chief.

An ALLGRIP ‘AUTO’ four-wheel drive system will also be available on the Ultra model with manual transmission which Wyatt says will appeal to drivers in rural areas especially those in occupations such as health care practitioners who have to negotiate challenging road conditions as part of their everyday lives.

‘Genuine Step’

Wyatt adds that combination of the Swift’s impressive specification when compared with the competition means that it represents a genuine step ahead supported as it is by Suzuki’s sterling reputation for excellent customer satisfaction through its dealership network.

“With fewer and fewer manufacturers making a nice small car, this car will be a strong contender for some time,” he believes. “Normally, the next generation of car just beats the latest model by a little so I think today, to have a car a smidgen under 65 mpg, a CO2 of 99 grammes with a tech spec as big as it is – with a 0% offer – for a small car under £20,000 – that is going to impress.”

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