Standing out in the supermini sector is quite an achievement – especially when it’s blessed with so many superb models. That, however, is exactly what Suzuki has achieved with the third generation Swift.
And it’s just as well because it’s up against two recently-launched class leaders – the new Ford Fiesta and Seat Ibiza.
Lower, lighter, wider and roomier than its predecessor, at first glance the new Swift doesn’t look radically different.
The distinctive C pillars are still there, but they are now blacked out to create a floating roof effect, while the hidden rear door handles give it a smoother, sportier profile.
The car’s lines are also more sculpted, there’s a larger grille and the big headlamp units look similar, but are now powered by LEDs. All in all, the new Swift is much more stylish.
Now only available as a five door, it’s a refreshingly simple line-up with just three trim levels (SZ3, SZ-T and SZ5), three engines and a 4×4 (AllGrip) option.
Starting at a bargain £11,999, standard equipment on the SZ3 includes six airbags, air conditioning, leather steering wheel, DAB radio with Bluetooth and four speakers, a CD player, rear privacy glass, LED daytime running lights, 15-inch wheels and body coloured door mirrors.
Move up to the SZ-T and you get a 7.0-inch infotainment screen, rear view camera, Smartphone link display audio, 16-inch alloy wheels and front fog lamps.
The SZ5 adds automatic air conditioning, 16-inch polished alloy wheels, sat nav, Advanced forward detection system, keyless entry and start and rear electric windows.
There are just two petrol engines to choose from – a three-cylinder 1.0-litre turbo and a four-cylinder 1.2-litre – and both are also available in mild hybrid form (SHVS, which stands for Small Hybrid Vehicle by Suzuki). This petrol/electric combo improves economy, boosts performance and keeps emissions low.
You can also specify a Swift with a six-speed automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive (called AllGrip).
I tested the model which could well be the pick of the range – the 1.0 SZS SHVS Boosterjet, priced at £15,499.
This cracking little car can reach 121mph and though the 0-62mph time is officially 10.6 seconds, it feels much faster.
With light steering, a slick, sporty five-speed manual gearbox and good visibility, the new Swift is very nippy in town and on the open road.
It’s economical too with a claimed 65.7mpg and emissions of just 97g/km. On one long journey involving a lot of motorway, I achieved an average of 60mpg which is phenomenal for a petrol car.
And it just keeps on getting better because the lightweight Swift is remarkably agile and corners superbly with very little body roll.
The ride is comfortable and it feels composed, while the eager engine is surprisingly refined, even when being worked hard.
Inside there’s plenty of room for adults front and rear, while the boot is a respectable 265 litres (579 litres with the backs seats flat) and there are lots of small storage spaces dotted around the cabin.
It’s fair to say that the interior is durable rather than plush with plenty of hard black plastic on display, but the design is simple and effective and all the controls and switchgear seem well placed. The infotainment screen isn’t flash, but gets the job done with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Mirrorlink smartphone connectivity.
The Swift SZ5 gained a decent four-star Euro NCAP crash test rating, partly down to its safety systems which include autonomous emergency braking and lane departure warning.
Verdict: Swift by name, swift by nature, the new Suzuki Swift is one of the most engaging drives in the supermini sector. Speedy, agile, spacious, economical, refined and competitively priced, it’s a revelation and well worth a test drive.