SUZUKI’S Swifts have been favoured by driving enthusiasts ever since the late 1980s when Japanese motorsport star Monster Tajima put them on the map in a big way.
His gritty performances made headlines in the rally and hillclimb world and quickly elevated the Swift GTi to pocket rocket, or hot hatch status.
The latest Swifts are all-new, wearing Euro styling, the latest technology and infotainment, and one of them, the GLX Turbo, can still lay claim to being a bit of a hottie.
Swifts come in two basic models, a 1.2litre four-cylinder cooking model, and a three-cylinder 1.0litre turbo terrier, the one we’re looking at here.
Priced at $22,990 driveaway, it’s at the top end of its market sector, competing against the likes of Mazda2, Kia Rio, VW Polo, Honda Jazz, Ford Fiesta, Toyota Yaris and several others, its Baleno sibling among them.
It comes with a lot of kit such as autonomous emergency braking, which we didn’t expect in this class, plus adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, LED headlights and daytime running lights, keyless entry and push-button start.
There’s also an up to date info system with a 7.0-inch touchscreen with satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, reversing camera, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, and tinted glass.
The Swift is easy on the eye with the five door hatch looking more like a sporty three-door because the rear door handles are cleverly masked, Alfa Romeo style, and attractive 16-inch alloys complete the image.
The interior is a bit strange with two-tone plastic dash and door trim, but it does have a decent leather-rimmed steering wheel and good LCD instrumentation and switchgear.
Space is generous front and rear and the cloth seats are well bolstered in front, giving driver and co-driver/passenger firm support.
The boot is not the world’s biggest at 242litres, but the 60/40 split backrest can be laid flat to increase space almost four-fold.
The eager Boosterjet motor has good punch, dispatching zero to 100km/h in about 10.5seconds, but it drives through a six-speed automatic.
A very good one, but real enthusiasts would surely prefer a stickshift, although
the paddle shifters on the steering wheel might satisfy.
More power, and manual transmission might come with a hotter 1.4litre turbo version in the next few months.
The Swift weighs 945kg, so the 82kW of whack from its little motor is pretty impressive and it doesn’t use much fuel either.
The official number is 5.1litres/100km, but we couldn’t complain about the 6.0 we recorded on test.
The drive was also enjoyable, with the quick steering and firmish suspension carving through the corners with poise and confidence.
It did, however, allow more road noise to penetrate the cabin than expected.
The car has an industry average three-year/100,000km warranty and five years/100,000km of capped-price servicing.
Verdict: One of the better looking compacts, big on features and probably the quickest in its class. It would no doubt get a smile from Monster Tajima.
- Dynamic looks
- Terrific mini motor
- Lots of equipment
- Sharp handling
- Good accommodation
- El cheapo dash trim
- Small boot
- No manual gearshift option
- Too much road noise