► CAR lives with a Suzuki Swift
► Ours is a Boosterjet mild hybrid
► Grown-up, or a little rotter?
Diary update: comparing our Suzuki Swift 1.0 Boosterjet with the last-generation Swift Sport
Welcome back, old friend. I ran CAR's old Suzuki Swift Sport long-termer back in 2012 and jumping into Jake's new Boosterjet mild hybrid was like a step back in time.
They've somehow kept the Swift DNA intact in this latest generation five years on. Poncey name aside, a strong no-nonsense vibe percolates our SZ5 1.0 SHVS Boosterjet: it's not fancy, or trying to be too clever and this simplicity is the Swift's ace card.
It's light and zippy to drive, feeling faster than its 10.6sec 0-62mph time suggests. And the five-speed gearbox is well judged, its five ratios keeping things hushed on a motorway. Yet when you're stirring through the cogs, the three-cylinder thrum is engaging and fun, just as I remember our four-cylinder 134bhp Swift Sport (below).
It's impressive they've generated 109bhp from just 998cc in the Boosterjet triple, showing how far downsizing has come. Yet I averaged 54mpg this weekend during mixed chores and rural country driving. The Swift aces that, with five doors, a deep boot and plenty of room for kids in the back.
The only glitches I could detect were a handful of features deviating from this car’s back-to-basics mantra: the over-nannying, and annoying, lane assist is too eager and not as slick as rivals’; why they’ve made the volume control a digital slider on the touchscreen is beyond me (what’s wrong with a tried-and-tested volume knob?); and the heating controls are strangely counter-intuitive - the digital read-out is on the middle knob but you adjust the temperature on the right-hand button. Digital confusion at play…
A few glitches notwithstanding, strong early impressions in the CAR long-term test review.
By Tim Pollard
Month 1 living with a Suzuki Swift: the perfect first car?
I have a confession to make. I've held my driving licence for six years now, driven for all of that time and been behind the wheel of plenty of cars in this job but I've, er, never owned one. Yep, that's right – a young lad who's loved cars all his life and writes about them for a living hasn't (yet) had one in his name. Go figure.
So, our new Suzuki Swift long-termer is the closest I've got to living with an actual car of my own. It's definitely a good demographic fit; the Swift has always been a simple, honest and good value option in the supermini class and one that's great for first car owners.
Our new Swift arrived on the CAR fleet hoping to maintain that image, fresh from a triple-test win against the Nissan Micra and our very own Citroen C3. It did, however, arrive armed to the teeth with gadgets, which sort of defeats the whole 'simple and honest' vibe the Swift usually gives off.
For a kick off it's the top-spec SZ5 model, which comes with big-boy toys like adaptive cruise control, sat-nav with traffic updates, lane-departure warning, high-beam assist, keyless entry and smartphone mirroring. That's on top of all-round electric windows, a reversing camera, rear privacy glass and DAB radio.
It's also equipped with the 1.0-litre Boosterjet with the SHVS mild hybrid system. The latter comprises an ISG (Integrated Starter Motor) – basically a combined starter motor and generator – and a lithium-ion battery separate to the usual lead acid one. The regular lead acid battery starts the engine from cold, but the ISG wakes the engine up quietly when you're in stop/start traffic. The energy stored in the lithium ion battery is used to drive the ISG, which can also give you a little torque boost lower down the revs. When you coast, the motor uses the wheels to keep the battery charged. It even has a hybrid power monitor like Matt's Prius, where you can see where the energy is going depending on how you're driving.
Now, all this high-tech stuff seems a little OTT for a little hatch, but the Swift still does the sums. The only option box ticked is the Speedy Blue metallic paint (£485), so our under-£15k-all-in Swift has way more tech on board than a new Ford Fiesta Zetec or Vauxhall Corsa Design and is around £3k cheaper than our long-term C3.
So, what's it like? First impressions seem to show up a split personality. The Swift is still a flyweight (at 925kg) in a sector of growing supermini fatties, so it darts around with all the eagerness of an excited puppy and the thrummy Boosterjet engine is fun to thrash. But it's also much better at doing sensible motorway commuting than some of its competitors; the adaptive cruise comes in handy, the seats are thick and spongey and the ride is just on the right side of firm.
Will the Swift help me grow up and live in the real world, or will it just be like a mischievous high school buddy? I guess we'll just have to see.
By Jake Groves
Logbook: Suzuki Swift SZ5 1.0 SHVS Boosterjet
Engine 998cc turbocharged 3-cyl, 109bhp @ 5500rpm, 125lb ft @ 2000-3500rpm
Transmission 5-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Stats 10.6sec 0-62mph, 121mph, 97g/km CO2
As tested £14,984
Miles this month 1202
Total miles 3786
Our mpg 50.3
Official mpg 65.7
Fuel this month £132.49
Extra costs None
Check out our Suzuki reviews here