Don’t adjust your computer screens – yes, this IS the all-new 2010 Suzuki Swift. Rather than being put a through rigorous makeover, first impressions hint at the briefest of tweaks, as if Suzuki’s arty types have done a Design While-You-Wait. But experience tells us that first impressions are often wrong.
The Swift is a hugely important car for Suzuki, who now have VW to impress after the chaps from Wolfsburg bagged 20% of the Japanese company last December. There’s a lot riding on their award-winning supermini. As a result, the new 2010 Suzuki Swift has received plenty of love. Refocus for a moment and you will see a raft of improvements. Starting, as you’re about to find out, its size.
What do you mean? The new Suzuki Swift is bigger? You’re kidding me!
Certainly is – and by a not-insignificant amount either. The new Swift is 9cm (3.5 inches in old money) longer than its predecessor with the wheelbase extended by a further 5cm. It’s half a centimetre wider too.
We spent the time we had with the Swift looking out for old models to compare it with (not difficult, as they sold 56,000 of them in the UK between May 2005 and July 2010, or 38% of Suzuki’s overall sales here) and the 2010 Swift is notably brawnier in its proportions. And that equates to more room inside and a whole lot more on-road fun for what was already an entertaining little bundle.
McPherson struts on the front and a new rear torsion beam on the rear equates to a stiffer but more compliant ride and while it’s no Swift Sport (you’ll have to wait until 2011 for the real thing), chucking it into a corner won’t have you uttering a few Hail Marys. Keep it smooth on the throttle and you’ll be rewarded by a grippy and progressive turn-in.
All-new everything, huh? The engine too? Is it, er, swift?
There are just two – yes, both all-new – engines available at launch, a 1.2 petrol and 1.3 diesel. We drove the former in fully-loaded SZ4 spec and manual form. Please don’t opt for the auto box. It’ll cost you a £1000 premium and you’ll miss out on the fun of the neat, precise five-speed manual.
True, the Swift 1.2 petrol could do with a bit more punch lower down the range, but a hefty stint of motorway driving proved it can handle that with aplomb – having cruise control helps. And despite being significantly bigger than its last incarnation, CO2 emissions drop from 140g/km to 116g/km, so that’s just £30 vehicle tax in the UK.
You said this top-spec Suzuki Swift SZ4 was fully-loaded…
Too right. Sat-nav aside, it’s a pretty exhaustive list and includes 16-inch alloys, Bluetooth (both for your phone and to stream music), iPod/USB port, electric windows throughout, keyless start, rear privacy glass on five-door models and cruise control. Even three years ago, such a spec on a car costing £12,245 would be unimaginable. Yes, you’re surrounded by acres of hard, black plastic, but you can almost call it classy – although that’s what a bit of added faux-aluminium trim does for a car.
The comfy but supportive seats? A cheekily-pleasing exhaust note? Minimal engine noise at high speed? Economy of 50.4mpg? Hey, we’ve covered them now. There is one ‘but’ – a boot so small, you’d struggle to get more than an wafer-thin overnight bag in it.
Aside from the small boot, there’s little to moan about. It undercuts its Ford rival, the Fiesta 1.25 Zetec, by £350 and the Vauxhall Corsa SXi 1.2i by £1900, while it has bags more visual and driving appeal than its South Korean foe, the Hyundai i10.
In boxing terms, the new Swift has all the credentials to be a pound-for-pound champion. This is a gutsy little street-fighter with plenty of panache.