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 established names in the fiercely-fought supermini class, but the Suzuki Swift has managed to build itself a loyal fanbase over the years. Its admirers like the Swift’s distinctive styling, entertaining driving experience, frugal running costs and low price.
The Suzuki Swift is now in its fourth generation and aims to build on the success of its predecessors, yet it faces a wide range of talented rivals in the supermini class. Key competitors include the Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Polo, SEAT Ibiza, Renault Clio, Peugeot 208 and Vauxhall Corsa. The Suzuki also has to compete with the great value-for-money models such as the Dacia Sandero, Citroen C3, Hyundai i20 and Kia Rio.
The Suzuki Swift is remarkably stylish for a supermini, even the entry-level models. The current generation has a slightly more muscular look than its predecessors, especially around the wheel arches and on the lower part of the doors, which gives a sporty appearance. Another neat touch are the handles for the back doors that are hidden in the rear pillars, giving this five-door model the racier look of a three-door. Models from 2020 onwards have slightly tweaked lights (LEDs are also now fitted as standard) and a smart chrome bar across the grille.
While many of its rivals have got bigger over the years, the Swift has stayed true to its city car roots, so it’s easy to park and manoeuvre in tight spaces. If you want more power, the range-topping Suzuki Swift Sport offers stronger performance, and we’ve reviewed it separately.
Despite a limited power figure, the standard Swift manages to be great fun on a twisty road, just like the previous model, and will alwaus put a smile on the face of an enthusiastic driver. The unfortunate downside to its great handling is a firmer suspension setup, which means it doesn’t ride bumpy city roads as a smoothly as a Ford Fiesta or VW Polo.
Meanwhile, interior fit and finish also 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 easily.
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 – the brand finished a middling 14th place out of 29 manufacturers in our 2021 DriverPower owner satisfaction survey.
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.