First Drive: Suzuki Swift

The Swift is Suzuki's dog in the highly competitive fight that is the B-segment of the automotive market.

Can this new Japanese car stand up to a huge number of other superminis, or will it fail as so many have before? AOL Cars took a trip to Monaco to decide for ourselves.

What is it?

The new Swift is the third generation of Suzuki's supermini, created with the intention to earn a place in the top-10 section of the B-segment market.

The refreshed and improved car has a new choice of engines, better equipment as standard than the older model and is significantly lighter.

What's under the bonnet?

The Swift is available with one of two petrol engines. There's the 1.0-litre, three-cylinder Boosterjet unit – which we tested – producing 110bhp and 170Nm of torque, and allows the car to achieve 0-60mph in 10.4 seconds.

Our test car had Suzuki's 'mild hybrid' system, officially known as SHVS. This offers a slight – although barely noticeable – increase in performance over the regular engine, while fuel economy goes from 61.4mpg to 65.7mpg

A larger 1.2-litre four-cylinder engine is also available with the Swift, producing 89bhp and 120Nm of torque, allowing for a 0-60mph time of 11.7 seconds. This engine is also available with the SHVS system, which allows for CO2 emissions of 101g/km, while fuel economy sits at 62.8mpg on the combined cycle.

What's the spec like?

It's tricky to say much about the Swift's value for money, as Suzuki has not announced prices yet.

Trim levels follow the usual Suzuki system – there's the entry-level SZ3, followed by the SZ-T and the top-of-the-line SZ5. Base-spec cars benefit from standard equipment such as Bluetooth connectivity, DAB radio, daytime running lights, air conditioning and privacy glass, while SZ-T models add a rear-view camera, front fog lamps, 16-inch alloys and a smartphone link audio display. The SZ5 will receive a few more features on top of this. Suzuki is predicting that this mid-level model will be the most popular Swift variant in the UK.

Any rivals?

The Swift will be aimed at the B-segment, meaning it will have to face off against foes such as the Citroën C3 and Hyundai i20.

The most challenging opponent will likely be the new Ford Fiesta, the previous model of which has dominated the UK car market.

What's it like to drive?

The Swift may not have much power behind it, but it's so small and light that it really does feel like a go-kart with its light steering and responsive manual gearbox.

There is quite a bit of body roll in the corners, but there's no lack of grip. The car does bounce around a bit on rough surfaces, so the poor quality of a lot of British roads may be an issue.

At motorway speeds, the Swift is comfortable and perfectly stable. There is some wind noise, but it's not overwhelmingly irritating.

AOL Cars Verdict

Suzuki can consider the new Swift a job well done. It isn't the most exciting car on the market, or the most luxurious, but there was something rather charming about its unpretentious, no-nonsense manner.

The only things that remains to be seen now is how well it deals with British roads, and if Suzuki can get it right as far as pricing is concerned. If it does well on both fronts, the Swift is shaping up to be quite the success.

The Knowledge

Power (bhp): 110bhp
Torque (Nm): 170Nm
Max speed (mph): 121mph
0-60mph: 10.4 seconds
MPG: 65.7
Emissions (g/km): 97g/km
Price: TBA

First Drive: Suzuki Swift

First Drive: Suzuki Swift