Suzuki's radical transformation of the Swift range in 2005 was a real shock to the system for rivals and the market in general. Gone were the boxy little hatches short on panache and desirability, eschewed in favour of a thoroughly modern, stylish and sassy hatch with a want-ability factor that opened up a whole new world of sales opportunity. Suzuki rocked up with a small hatch aimed squarely at the European market and we all loved it.
However, age gets to the best of us and that original “new-age” Swift has been overhauled by an improved version released recently. Looking at it, you need a spotters badge to tell the two apart. Even side-by-side the main differentiator is the small change in size; the new car is a touch bigger in all directions. However, the changes are many, as this is a completely new car; it's just that Suzuki's people haven't messed too much with their winning formula.
What are its rivals?
Every mainstream manufacturer has a supermini in its line-up now and as such the choice is mind blowing. Of those available our shortlist would contain the names of Ford's excellent Fiesta, Skoda's ever impressive Fabia and the Swift itself.
How does it drive?
The outgoing Swift was one of our favourite small cars to drive and the new version is actually a little better. The new 1.2-litre four-cylinder petrol engine is a fizzy little number that's more than happy to spin around to its red line but with loads of torque for a less frantic driving style; you don't need to thrash it to make progress, but if you do it loves it. The gearbox moves with a light, swift and accurate action and adds to the pleasure of making progress.
Suzuki's engineers have managed to blend a fine ride and handling compromise such that their little car copes with urban roadways ravaged by a harsh winter admirably and also manages to hold on tightly to your chosen line out on the open road with pleasing accuracy. Given how much fun the lesser models are the Sport variant promises to be a hoot.
Aside from the joys of driving Suzuki's baby, there is much to enjoy elsewhere also. This latest Swift model is the safest yet, recording a five-star rating on the NCAP tests thanks in part to seven airbags and a full complement of chassis aids. In addition, as well as being the safest, this is also the most comfortable Swift as the slight increase in size lends itself to a more spacious interior, buoyed by a redesign that lifts quality and style levels and a generous level of standard equipment, particularly in SZ4 guise. Living with the Swift should also be painless on the wallet thanks to impressive fuel economy, low road tax and cheap servicing. There's a lot to like.
There's not much to criticise in this new Swift. The weaknesses are mainly superficial. In some ways it is a shame that Suzuki couldn't be a little more daring with the styling, both inside and out, but its reluctance to tamper with a successful recipe is understandable. The interior is rather dark and a more expensive feel and appearance wouldn't go amiss. That's not to say that it feels cheap, it just lacks that final quality of tactility that some rivals enjoy.
Should I buy one?
Picking up where its forebear left off, this new Swift is a genuinely impressive and appealing little car. It stands toe-to-toe with rivals listed above and fares well in direct comparisons. There is much to like and very little to moan about, and even then the weaknesses aren't flaws that undermine its overall capabilities.