DISCLAIMER: This was our rental car in Japan.
Walking up to the Nippon Rental car, we were both excited to see which car we would be handed. It was either a Mazda Demio (2), Honda Fit (Jazz) or a Suzuki Swift. We were handed the Swift equivalent to our GL Safety pack – some key differences were that ours had auto folding mirrors and lights, heated seats and digital climate control. As for the rest, it was the same.
Getting into the new Swift, we were both pleasantly surprised. The dash is ergonomically laid out and presented sleek and clean. The white plastic strip across the dash broke up the sea of grey (as well as the 400 warning stickers stuck on by Nippon). The seats were comfortable and the leather-wrapped steering wheel felt nice to hold.
Setting the GPS to our destination 200km away, we set off right into the peak-hour of Tokyo – joy. In stop-start traffic the Swift was a joy, quiet, and those comfortable seats made it bearable. The CVT was pretty good but a little slow to take off. Once we got out onto the freeways, the willing engine surprised us. Even with the air-con on it sat at 100km/h with ease, revved low, and was comfortable to be in.
The only things we really noticed once at speed were the wind and road noise. It got a bit annoying after a while, but the Swift got us to our first stop safely, comfortably and happy (mind you, Japanese roads are amazing: over 1000+km we only hit one pothole, which the Swift soaked up okay-ish).
The next day, we decided to go to some shrines and lakes, which involved a lot of mountain driving. The Swift was okay at this, but was sluggish and constantly revving its guts out. We also started noticing that the steering rack is actually very loud. It made the same sound an RC car would when you turn its wheels. This became very annoying and concerning pretty quickly, and a quick Google search showed that this seems to be a common thing.
The rest of our time involved fairly normal roads to drive on, and we found the Swift very nice to be in. We did find the steering was a little bit heavy for a small car, but it wasn't too big of an issue.
Fuel-wise, the Swift is amazing. Mixed highway, city and mountain roads with air-con on full blast, we managed to get 620km per tank (91RON).
In the looks department, we had mixed opinions. We both agree that the chrome-insert halogen headlights make it look older than it is (GLX Turbo and Sport lights look awesome, though), the rear doors placed high in the C-pillar look a tad awkward (and are weird to use), but both of us did like the rear end of the car, though.
Fitting all your stuff in is pretty easy for two. The cupholders are a nice size and the glovebox is decent. No centre armrest with storage, though, just another cupholder.
The nuts and bolts of the car seem to be on well. We only had it for a week, though, and the car only had 20,000km on it. We did notice a few squeaks from the dash.
The safety systems were a bit intrusive in our opinion. The departure warning would go off on zebra crossings with loud alarm bells (not fun at 5am), and the AEB freaked out twice while we were coming to a stop behind the car in front. We turned them off pretty quickly.
Would I own this car? No, well... Yes, if it was the GLX Turbo or Sport. Our model's features were a bit of a letdown, but they are cheap cars. The 1.2-litre CVT also bores me. Don't get me wrong, it is great, a relaxing car to drive, but boring.
All in all, we were pleased with the Swift. It would make a great day-to-day city car with the odd trip up the Hume. The styling is a bit meh, but the inside makes up for that.