Suzuki Swift hatchback review
“The latest Suzuki Swift builds on its predecessor’s appeal, but can’t topple the supermini class leaders”
- Entertaining to drive
- Low running costs
- Appealing looks
- Bouncy ride
- Rivals are more practical
- Disappointing interior finish
There are better known names in the supermini class than the Suzuki Swift, but over the years, the model has quietly built up a loyal fanbase, who like its distinctive styling, entertaining driving experience, frugal running costs and low price.
The fourth-generation model aims to build on these qualities but now faces a vast array of talented rivals in the supermini class, including the Renault Clio, Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Polo and SEAT Ibiza, as well as the recently updated Peugeot 208 and Vauxhall Corsa. It also has to compete with great-value offerings including the Dacia Sandero, Citroen C3, Hyundai i20 and Kia Rio.
The Suzuki is arguably more stylish than these, incorporating design elements of the previous generation but with a more muscular look on the lower part of the doors and around the wheel arches, giving it a more sporty appearance. A facelift in 2020 brought tweaked lights (with LED headlights now fitted as standard) and a neat chrome bar across the grille.
While some rivals have swollen in size, the Swift has also stayed true to its city car roots, making it easy to park and manoeuvre. If you want more power, the range-topping Suzuki Swift Sport hot hatch is the most powerful version, which we've reviewed separately.
Like the old model, it’s great fun on a twisty road and, in spite of its limited power, is capable of bringing a smile to the face of an enthusiastic driver. Unfortunately, the downside to the Swift’s keen handling is suspension that's on the firm side, jiggling on the bumpy surfaces common in the UK.
Meanwhile, interior fit and finish lags behind rivals, with the Fiesta, Polo and the Clio all offering more upmarket interiors. The interior design is at least more stylish than before and you can connect your smartphone.
All Swifts now come with a 1.2-litre petrol engine with mild-hybrid assistance, which Suzuki calls SHVS (it stands for Small Hybrid Vehicle by Suzuki). This blend of petrol and electric power helps improve efficiency. Performance is also given a small boost, although don’t expect to drive very far on electric power alone.
In addition, you can choose a CVT automatic gearbox in place of the five-speed manual and add Suzuki’s ALLGRIP four-wheel drive system on top-spec SZ5 cars. The four-wheel-drive system doesn't turn the Swift into an off-roader, but does provide some extra security on slippery road surfaces.
The 2020 facelift introduced a new entry-level SZ-L specification. It’s more expensive than the previous SZ3 trim level but far better equipped. There’s now a touchscreen on even the cheapest Swift, alongside adaptive cruise control, alloy wheels and a rear-view camera.
Buyers of the intermediate SZ-T model also enjoy rear parking sensors and extra safety features such as lane-keeping assistance and blind-spot monitoring. The range-topping SZ5 adds sat nav, keyless entry and rear electric windows. Previously, it was the only version to get autonomous emergency braking as standard but we’re pleased to see this is now standard across the range.
Having this technology across the board means that the car’s safety rating should improve, as Euro NCAP only gave the Swift a three-star safety rating without it. Adding autonomous emergency braking nets the Swift four stars out of five. Reliability is a Suzuki strong suit, even if the general ownership experience isn’t always a bed of roses – although the brand finished well in 8th place out of 30 manufacturers in our 2019 Driver Power customer survey, it slipped to 17th in 2020.
Overall, the latest Swift has evolved sufficiently to retain its following, but we’re not so sure it has the strength to convert buyers from other marques. If fun is your number-one priority, the Suzuki scores strongly, but rivals offer a more polished overall package.