We like the Suzuki Swift at CAR magazine. It’s a good, no-nonsense supermini that moved us so much at launch that we awarded it Car Of The Year in 2005. I ran CAR’s last long-termer, the Swift Sport back in 2012 and loved the fun-on-a-budget vibe. I was so smitten by its clever, underdone performance that I called for a Slow Car Movement.
So we approach the new Swift 1.2 Dualjet with interest. Essentially, it’s a new, cleaner powerplant to quell the bad stuff (mpg climbs by 16%, CO2 drops by 17g/km) and reward the good stuff; it will be available as an upgrade to the regular 1.2 from early 2015.
Dualjet works with twin fuel injectors (the clue’s in the name!) to mete out petrol delivery more precisely in the cylinders, micromanaging the location, quantities and timing of those bursts. They’re positioned very close to the inlet valves, allowing for a more precise atomisation in the combustion chamber.
What’ll the Suzuki Swift Dualjet do, mister?
Headline figures are 65.7mpg on the European combined cycle (9mpg better than the Dual-less 1.2 it replaces) and an eye-grabbing 99g/km of CO2, surely helped by stop-start and taller gearing.
That’s the trigger point in the UK for tax rebates and zero road tax. For now - surely the Government will tighten the threshold as more and more cars duck under 100g/km. Suzuki reckons picking the Dualjet will save the typical British Swift owner £175 a year in bills.
What’s it like to drive the Swift Dualjet?
Performance is nigh-on identical to the regular 1.2 petrol engine familiar to generations of Swift owners. Power is marginally down, dropping to 89bhp from 93bhp, but that’s cancelled out by the most modest of torque infusions, nudging up a couple of digits to 89lb ft at a lower 4400rpm.
Bearing in mind the Swift Sport is hardly a fire-cracker, don’t go expecting any whizz-bang performance here. The numbers (103mph and 0-62mph in 12.3sec are identical to the regular Dualjet-less 1.2). There’s not much puff, but it feels well judged against the competition and it’s far from an eco special wheezer.
The gearchange is great, too, encouraging cog-swaps and general driver involvement.
Does it still handle?
You bet it does. All Swifts have an eager chassis built in to their DNA and despite the years piling on, Suzuki’s supermini is still competitive. It might be shaded by the Fiesta’s playfulness, but this remains a fun car to punt around.
It feels like a junior Swift Sport, but with a less nibbly, better resolved ride. Noise suppression and refinement have never been Swift strong points, but the vocal Dualjet is similar to what’s gone before.
What’s the Suzuki Swift like inside?
Ah yes. The Swift is showing its age in several departments now. The interior feels downright plasticky and the aftermarket screen for the infotainment looks like an afterthought. It works well enough, though.
The general driving position remains sound. The Swift benefits from a very upright windscreen and the positioning of seats and controls is well judged, affording a good view out front and back. There’s a reasonable spec available, too, with electric heated mirrors, digital DAB radio and electronic climate control all fitted to the model we drove.
Externally, the Swift still looks stylish to these eyes. Just watch out for those ENORMOUS front headlamps. It’s a bit goggle-eyed.
Suzuiki’s hit the spot with the Dualjet. The Swift might be ageing, but it’s doing so with a degree of responsibility and we can see why Suzuki’s now sold four million globally since launch a decade ago. You’ll only get the Dualjet engine on the SZ4 two-wheel drive models and it’ll cost an extra £500 to buy.
Do the maths: if you’re going to own the car for more than three years, you’ll be quids in. You’ll be buying a good-looking, well engineered supermini that’s a solid alternative to the more obvious VW Polo/Ford Fiesta choices.