Since the Suzuki Swift first appeared on the planet way back in 2005, it has attracted some 5.4 million buyers worldwide, 127, 000 in the UK alone. The automaker's latest and third generation Swift swooped into showrooms dotted across the UK earlier this month with bosses predicting 12,500 units to fly off the shelves in the first full year. Continuing QUBE/just-auto's review of interior design and technology trends, we take a closer look at the new Swift.
The latest generation model comes with a choice of engines – a 1.2-litre four-cylinder with improved fuel injection; a mild hybrid-electric system using the 1.2-litre engine with integrated starter-generator; and a one-litre three-cylinder direct-injection turbocharged engine.
Available in ten colours and three grades, namely SZ3, SZ-T and SZ5, our SZ5 was painted 'speedy blue' with silver metallic roof. Debuted at the most recent Geneva motor show, standard features on all Swifts include six airbags, rear privacy glass, LED daytime running lights and Bluetooth.
The Swift is the automaker's third model launched in Europe to sit on its 'Heartect' platform that's designed to save weight without compromising body rigidity.
The Swift is the automaker's third model launched in Europe (following Baleno, a hidden gem, and the quirky Ignis) to sit on its 'Heartect' platform that's designed to save weight without compromising body rigidity.
Swift is produced at the company's Sagara plant in Shizuoka Prefecture, with a targeted monthly output of 3,000 units. Its rivals include the Hyundai i20, Kia Rio, Skoda Fabia and SEAT Ibiza.
Advanced driver assistance systems
The spec sheet left on the front passenger seat of our SZ5 included a string of advanced driver assistance technologies, notably the automaker's first use of a forward detection system that combines a monocular camera and laser sensors for advanced safety functions. These include autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and lane departure warning. It also uses millimetre-wave radar to enable adaptive cruise control.
In addition to a lane departure warning function, the Swift incorporates a 'weaving alert' function. As the name suggests, when the car is weaving from side to side – and travelling at speeds of about 37mph or above – the system sounds a warning buzzer and lights an indicator on the instrument panel.
The advanced forward detection system also supports a number of other safety technologies, including a collision-mitigating Dual Sensor Brake Support that operates at speeds of up to 62mph.
Further agreeable treats included high beam assist that automatically dips headlights as required during night time driving. Although this feature is often found upwards on mid-range cars, the new Swift features this technology as standard on the SZ5.
Last month, Euro NCAP released the results of four new cars. The Mini Countryman and Skoda Kodiaq were both awarded a five-star rating. Nissan's new Micra received four stars with standard equipment and five stars with the optional safety pack. The Suzuki Swift is rated as three stars as standard and four stars with the optional safety equipment.
Positioned centre stage on a console slightly angled toward the driver is a 7-inch touchscreen that displays the sat-nav. It enables use of certain smartphone applications with MirrorLink, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connection.
Once seated, one of the first things you notice is the ample amount of headroom. Suzuki interior designers lowered the seating position and added 23mm vertical and lateral space for the rear seating positions. The front seats have been moved outwards by 10mm which has increased the centre-on-centre distance between them by 20mm. Front passengers also get plenty of knee room thanks to the steep angle of the glove box.
Gazing around, the cockpit has a sporty edge to it, plenty of black soft touch plastic and touches of satin chrome that wrap around to the door panels. The dark tones accentuate the sense of cabin space. Decent sized cubby holes dotted around and a logical arrangement of centre console buttons give a sense of functionality. A 'D' shaped leather steering wheel embedded with controls adds to the sporty cockpit feel.
Other creature comforts include a so-called 'guide me light' function that keeps the dipped headlamps switched on for at least ten seconds after you have locked or unlocked the car at night. This can be increased up to 25 seconds depending on your preferences. During a week in which Britain enjoyed its highest temperatures since the summer of 1976 – soaring to just above a sweltering 30 degrees C – the air-conditioned cabin made it a comfortable place to spend time behind the wheel.
Given that the Swift rests on the Heartect platform, the automaker has given the underbody's structure and component layout an overhaul which resulted in the adoption of a highly rigid frame that enhances collision safety. This has also led to a reduction in reinforcements, thus further reducing body weight.
Weighing in at just under a tonne, the Swift is around ten percent lighter than its predecessor.
Weighing in at just under a tonne (980kg kerbweight, to be precise), the Swift is around ten percent lighter than its predecessor. This is, in part, due to the use of ultra-high tensile steel across 17 percent of its BIW structure. It is also ever so slightly (1cm) shorter than the outgoing model, with a stretched (20mm longer) wheelbase, helping to cleverly liberate more boot space at 265-litres with all the seats in place, which is 25 percent larger than the outgoing Swift. That said, although the rear seats split 40/60, they don't create a flat loading runway from the boot when folded. Instead, there is a fairly steep lip created by the folded rear seat edge.
New Swift is also a touch lower (15mm) and spot wider (40mm), further accentuating its road stance. At the front, this new platform strategy has resulted in minimising the size of the engine compartment and maximising the size of the cabin.
The lightweight touches of the latest-generation Swift are echoed throughout, including the suspension system which uses traditional MacPherson strut design at the front and beam axle at the rear with various upgrades made during the development. The front stabiliser bar, for example, is now shorter and of hollow design and the subframe is of lighter construction. The steering rack itself is now of hollow design which adds further to the overall weight reduction.
On the road
Two petrol engines are offered on the Swift. Ours came with the entry-level 1.2 Dualjet 4-cylinder with 89bhp and 120Nm of torque with the addition of SHVS (Smart Hybrid Vehicle by Suzuki). SVHS is available on this engine in conjunction with the Allgrip four-wheel drive system, not surprising given the carmaker's heritage with 4x4s.
The net result is a quiet and smooth performance around town – it being quieter than the outgoing model by 3 decibels – a quick-ish and steady ride from A to B on main roads, bearing in mind the absence of a turbocharger.
True, the steering could do with a little more feel but there are other, more important things to get excited about. Like fuel economy. While the new model is 10 percent lighter than its predecessor, it is also 19 percent more powerful and 8 percent more fuel efficient.
The SHVS mild hybrid system incorporates an Integrated Start Generator (ISG) which serves as both generator and starter motor. The system uses a compact 12V lithium-ion battery stored under the front passenger seat to store energy and incorporates the idle stop function operated via the ISG. This battery also supplies power to electrical engine parts, instruments and radio. As the ISG uses a belt drive rather than a conventional starter motor to restart the engine after an automatic engine stop, it allows for a quiet and smooth start.