The Suzuki Swift has always been that loveable little hatch that has long been a choice for young buyers, especially the female audience. Heck, it was even on the shortlist for me when I was 21 years old.
The current-generation 2017 Suzuki Swift has received a complete makeover, which has seen the cuteness of the previous generation replaced by a bolder design. Plus, it now has those silly hidden back-door handles that make it look like a two-door.
The GL Navigator with Safety Pack model we have on test here, is the third in the range, just below the Turbo GLX, and comes in at $19,190 drive-away, $1200 more than the GL Navigator. It is basically what the name suggests: a GL Navigator but with a lot of safety kit, that includes weaving alert, high beam assist, adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking (AEB) and lane departure warning.
There are some surprisingly expensive options for those who like to make it stand out from the pack, with metallic mineral grey paint and two tone roof costing an extra $1000, but it's even more for Queensland and Northern NSW residents, at $1250 (due to Suzuki being distributed by a company in that region).
Powering the Swift is a dual jet naturally aspirated 1.2-litre petrol engine, paired with a CVT. Its rivals, the Toyota Yaris and Mazda 2, both feature a 1.5-litre engine, but both are around 200 kilograms heavier than the Swift.
The weight shedding could be thanks in part to the amount of plastics in the cabin. It could come as a surprise the first time you sit in a Suzuki, but it is a common theme amongst its models.
Apart from a tiny piece of fabric on the door trims, the door handles and even what appears to be a white padded piece on the dash, is plastic. The ‘cheap’ feel continues through to the flimsy sun visors, and the headlining at the top of the door frames feels as though it needs to be glued. Your fingers can literally disappear in it.
The 2017 Swift is shorter, wider and lower than the previous generation, and despite this, it still feels roomy inside. There is a lot of storage in the centre console, but no place to hide away your phone while charging on the solitary USB or 12-volt connection.
The driver-angled centre console offers easy access to the climate controls and the 7.0-inch touchscreen. Satellite navigation is a cinch to operate, with coloured menu shortcut buttons at the top of the screen to make selections easier at a glance, although we found some lag when selecting them. The rear-view camera comes standard, but without parking sensors.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is there for those who like to stay connected to their phone. If you love to pump your music though, the Swift will let you down with its two measly speakers.
The back seats retain the softness of the front, and you’ll notice your back and behind sinking into them. With no centre armrest, the middle seat is surprisingly comfortable and could be bearable on longer trips, but fitting three adults could make for some tight shoulder room, but ample leg room makes up for it. Privacy glass is a nice bonus, too.
Regarding back seat storage, there is a shallow map pocket behind the passenger seat, one cupholder in the middle at arm's length, and space for one drink bottle in each door pocket.
The boot has received a 32-litre increase from the previous generation to 242L, but it still is 44L less than the Yaris and 8L less than the Mazda 2. Still, it’s enough for the groceries (a large hook is there for your convenience) and a short weekend trip. Any longer and you may need to fold the 60:40 back seats to boost the space to 918L, which is done with two levers accessed from the boot. Beneath the rather flimsy floor is a space-saver wheel and tool kit.
Keyless start is only standard on the GLX Turbo, so a simple turn of the key and the 1.2-litre engine rattles into life. With 66kW of power and 120Nm of torque, you might think it needs the GLX’s 1.4L turbo, but weighing only 870 kilograms, it’s surprisingly spritely.
The CVT transmission is a good match and loves to rev, making the car a bundle of fun to drive. To save even more weight, Suzuki did away with the plastic cover over the engine, which opens up the engine bay, something you don’t see too much of these days.
Suzuki claims a combined fuel economy reading of 4.8L/100km, and we weren’t far off that with 5.6L.
Steering is direct but feels a tad floaty at higher speeds. Those higher speeds also ensure a fair amount of road noise intrudes into the cabin.
Suzuki has made the Swift feel sporty with a flat-bottom, leather steering wheel and the dial clusters are finished in a racy red. We did find on the speedometer though; the brushed aluminium-look made it hard to see the speed mark, half-way between 40 and 60, for example. And with no digital reading across the range, it may get you squinting. The fuel gauge is also tiny.
The Swift will keep you safe with six airbags, but it has not yet been tested by ANCAP. It received only a four-star safety rating as tested by Euro NCAP, where it acquired an 88 per cent adult occupant protection. We can only hope the car will be tested in Australia soon.
Warranty is the same as Toyota; three years or 100,000km, whichever comes first. The servicing schedule is also the same as its Japanese rival, every six months or 10,000km, and averages out to $238 per visit.
The GL Navigator with Safety Pack is the sweet spot in the range, and it's worth paying the extra dosh over the GL Navigator, for that extra peace of mind. However, you will be let down by the cheap quality of the cabin, with the likes of Mazda ticking the more premium-feel box, and if you want more power, then the GLX Turbo may be worth looking into.
Saying that we would recommend taking the Swift for a 24-hour test drive to see if it will fit in with your day-to-day life. If anything, it’s goofy grin will surely win you over!
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