2009 Suzuki Swift & Swift Sport Review & Road Test
The little Suzuki is still strong, four years on...
Honest A to B car with character, excellent handling (Sport), value for money, good looks
No USB/iPod connectivity, sluggish in auto, a little too common
CarAdvice Rating: - Swift
CarAdvice Rating: - Swift Sport
- by Alborz Fallah
Oh no! They'd given me another Suzuki Swift. In Queensland it seems there are more Suzuki Swift's than there are Holden Commodores and Ford Falcons put together. Everywhere you look, there is a Swift, car parks, on the road, they are everywhere and they multiply weekly.
Whatever Suzuki has done in Queensland with the Swift has worked far too well, their marketing department needs an award for making the Swift the most common small car in Brisbane. With that in mind I sat at the red light facing south on Kingsford Smith Drive. Sure enough, an exact same colour Swift pulled up next to me. There was a momentary glance to reflect our commonality followed by an uncomfortable smile. I'd joined the Swift club.
A good friend of mine sent me this photo last week of his Swift, parked in front of a nearly identical Swift which was parked in front of a nearly identical Swift. It pretty much tells the story far better than I could.
So far as small cars go, the Swift has been a top seller for a very long time, but now with the new Honda Jazz, Ford Fiesta and Mazda2 out and about, the competition has gone to the next level and the Swift, well, it's still very cute, the kind of car you'd buy just because it looks good.
However, it has so much more than just good looks. While the new Fiesta for example, looks like a new age high fashion German model, the Swift has that classic good look to it.
There is a reason so many have picked the Swift as their first car, it doesn't do any one thing in particular perfectly, instead it pretty much does everything well overall.
From the outside the shape is now essentially an icon and from the inside it has incredible amounts of head room and a well thought out design. It's an honest car that doesn't pretend to be anything its not.
You can comfortably fit four adults (tall adults too) in the car. The boot won't fit anything bigger than the weekly shopping, but lets be honest, when have you ever needed any more room than that?
The standard Swift is powered by a 1.5-litre engine with a mighty 74kw and 133Nm, if those numbers don't mean anything to you, it's not really that much. In manual form the Swift will get around the city and highway pretty well, but in auto it tends to struggle a little with hills, more so when you have a few people on board.
If you're thinking about buying a small car, the Swift now has a lot of tough competition but despite being a few years old, it still down right beats the majority of them for value for money.
To put things into perspective, last month Suzuki sold 1208 Swifts, making the little car the third best selling car in its class (behind the Toyota Yaris and Hyundai Getz). Beating all the new contenders. If you have a car on the market that can manage such feats well into its life-cycle, you know you're on a winner.
However, this brings me to the reason I was writing this review in the first place. The Suzuki Swift Sport. The top of the range Swift to which I've become somewhat attached.
The first time I drove one, I was positive Suzuki had given me a car which was modified post-factory. There is no way a car that sits as high as a Swift can go around corners like this, but, yes, it does.
Powered by a 1.6-litre engine, the Swift Sport ups the power to 92kW and 148Nm, add to that better suspension, brakes and sport seats and it transforms the Swift in to a whole new car. A car in which you can have a lot of fun.
From the outside the twin rear exhausts and sports body kit make the Swift Sport stand out from the crowd, from the inside, the new seats and enhanced interior add much needed flare and personality.
If you've ever asked someone that owns a supercar what cars they've owned in the past, the list usually goes something like: old XR8/SS, Mitsubishi EVO/Subaru STI, BMW M3/Audi RS4, Porsche 911 and 'supercar'.
I predict that in the next 15-20 years, when you ask future supercar owners the same question, the list will start with a Suzuki Swift Sport, probably in yellow.
Push this car as hard as you want around any corner and it will simply obey your command. It understeers at the limit but even then it's for a brief moment. The little Sport just doesn't make sense. Suzuki added ESP to the Sport some time ago, which pretty much makes it impossible to lose control of this car.
The Sport variant only comes in manual and if you're going to complain about that, I suggest you buy the standard Swift in auto. This may seem like a little car from the outside, but it will put some of the bigger performance cars to shame around the bends. There is a good reason Suzuki has won the Junior World Rally Championship.
My biggest complaint with the Swift has always been lack of iPod or USB input. It can however play MP3 and I can't fault the stereo either for its price. Safety wise, airbags all around and ESP is available (on Sport) and the Swift scores four out of five stars.
The Swift may be turning four this year, but its age should not be a reason to fault such a good package.
I don't doubt that there are certain cars for certain people and the Swift may not be a car to suit all, but If you're in the market for a small car, do yourself a favour and test drive a Swift before making your final decision, I guarantee you will be surprised.
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