Live from the launch: Suzuki Swift


Suzuki's Swift is a strange car in many ways - there are not many to be seen on UK roads in comparison to rivals from Ford, Vauxhall, and after the recent scrappage scheme, Hyundai, but it is the cornerstone of the Japanese brand's existence on these shores.

That might explain why the latest model, which we are driving today, is so unchanged in comparison to the previous version. Why take the risk of making dramatic changes to a model that is so important to the brand?

We would have preferred the Swift to have had more than the minor tweaks to the lights and bumpers, to set it apart from the existing car. Even though it is a good looking little beast, with its distinctive curved rump, it will start to look dated at the end of this car's life in about six years time.

Inside, it feels as low-cost as its £9,995 to £13,245 price range suggests - there is a lot of hard plastic on offer, and it all looks functional rather than funky.

But there is a decent level of kit in the top-spec versions, although the entry-level models are slightly sparse. Bluetooth, keyless start (a bizarre and perhaps unnecessary luxury on a car this cheap) and automatic headlights are all available on the SZ4 trim.

The Swift handles nicely, although our route hasn't been the most dynamic so far, and the steering is pleasingly responsive, if a little heavy at slow speeds. The petrol engine will rightly be the best seller, as it cuts out the noise suffered by the clattery diesel. It is slow, but economy is its forte, with CO2 emissions dropping hugely compared to the previous version - 140g/km to 116g/km. This makes it highly competitive if not quite class-leading.

The diesel will be marginally better at 109g/km when it arrives next year, but not so much to sway us from suggesting the petrol is the better bet.

Suzuki has not broken the mould with the new Swift, so much so that it is hard to tell the difference between new and old, but it remains a good car and one that stands up well against the best in class thanks to its new, cleaner, engine offering.