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In-depth reviews

Suzuki Swift review - Engines, drive & performance

The Suzuki Swift isn’t the most exciting car to drive, but it’s capable and fairly comfortable

Carbuyer Rating

3.9 out of 5

Owners Rating
Be the first to review
Engines, drive & performance Rating

3.5 out of 5

With efficiency the ultimate goal for the Suzuki Swift, you wouldn’t expect it to be particularly fun to drive. Its sole engine option is a mild-hybrid 1.2-litre that should provide sufficient performance for most drivers. This can be had with either a five-speed manual gearbox or a CVT automatic. There’s also the choice of four-wheel drive with the ALLGRIP model, but this is only available with the manual transmission.

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Given the similarities in price with the MG3, however, it’s hard to ignore the fact that the Chinese car has over twice as much power and feels smoother and more EV-like to drive. In contrast, you’ll have to rev the Swift quite hard to get it up to speed, and while it’s also smooth, it’s no match for the MG.

On the move, we found the Swift to be an improvement over the last model in terms of road noise – Suzuki has focused a lot of effort in this area, and as a result the cabin is a fairly quiet place to be. There is, however, occasional engine noise. The Swift offers a reasonably comfortable ride, which softens the blow from the odd road imperfection, but the trade-off is that there’s not a whole lot of feel through the steering wheel.

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The Swift offers a reasonably comfortable ride, which softens the blow from the odd road imperfection. We tested it on fairly smooth French surfaces, however, so it remains to be seen whether this will translate the UK’s pothole-ridden streets, although first impressions are good.

We didn’t particularly like the sheer number of bongs from warning systems set off during our drive. While they may be designed to help drivers, they felt distracting and were harder to turn off than we’d expect.

Is the Suzuki Swift good to drive in town?

The Swift is designed for around-town driving first and foremost, so it’s an area where it performs well. The latest car gets improved mild-hybrid technology, which offers a smoother start-stop system than on the previous version. We found the Swift’s light controls and great visibility made it easy to manoeuvre and park. Its short length helps when it comes to U-turns too, because the Swift has a very small turning circle.

Is the Suzuki Swift good to drive on long journeys?

Motorway driving isn’t the Suzuki Swift’s forte, but the improved insulation of the latest model means it’s a little more suited to it than before thanks to a reduction in road noise. However, if you need to put your foot down to overtake or speed up on a slip road, the Swift can get noisy, and refinement certainly takes a hit.

Is the Suzuki Swift good to drive on B-roads?

Our car’s five-speed manual gearbox wasn’t the most pleasant to use, as the shifts felt vague. A slicker box would certainly contribute to a more engaging and enjoyable drive on a B-road. And while the car’s engine is capable for most applications, it won’t get your pulse racing. If you want a fun hatchback that’s good in corners, you’d be better served by the Hyundai i20, which trades a little comfort for responsive steering and superior agility.

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Still, the Swift is a very light car compared to most vehicles on the road, and this, along with quick steering and minimal body lean in corners makes it quite enjoyable in an old-school supermini sort of way.

Petrol models

The Suzuki Swift comes with a small 1.2-litre three-cylinder engine with mild-hybrid assistance. While the previous car’s engine was a mild-hybrid four-cylinder, Suzuki now uses a three-cylinder unit of the same size, which it says offers more grunt at low speeds, just as much power as before, and improved fuel economy.

Although an 82bhp power output and 0-62mph time of 12.5 seconds from the standard five-speed manual with two-wheel drive might not sound too exciting, the Swift’s small dimensions and light weight mean the performance on offer is perfectly sufficient. 

The CVT automatic version is actually quicker by 0.6 seconds, and has a slightly higher top speed. There’s also an ALLGRIP four-wheel-drive model for those who want a little extra traction. It’s actually the slowest of the three options, taking over a second longer to get from 0-62mph than the two-wheel-drive manual, which is down to the added weight of the four-wheel-drive system.

 

Model 

Power

0-62mph

Top speed

1.2-litre mild-hybrid five-speed manual

82bhp

12.5 seconds

103mph

1.2-litre mild-hybrid CVT automatic

82bhp

11.9 seconds

106mph

1.2-litre mild-hybrid five speed ALLGRIP 4WD

82bhp

13.6 seconds

99mph

Carbuyer notes

“Light controls and good all round visibility make the Swift pretty easy to pilot around town and tight car parks.” Ellis Hyde, News Reporter

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Which Is Best?

Cheapest

  • Name
    1.2 Mild Hybrid Motion 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £18,699

Most Economical

  • Name
    1.2 Mild Hybrid Motion 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £18,699

Fastest

  • Name
    1.2 Mild Hybrid Motion 5dr CVT
  • Gearbox type
    Auto
  • Price
    £19,949

Charlie writes and edits news, review and advice articles for Carbuyer, as well as publishing content to its social media platforms. He has also been a regular contributor to its sister titles Auto Express, DrivingElectric and evo. As well as being consumed by everything automotive, Charlie is a speaker of five languages and once lived in Chile, Siberia and the Czech Republic, returning to the UK to write about his life-long passion: cars.

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