Suzuki Swift Review
The Suzuki Swift is a small hatchback with some economical engines and a surprisingly roomy interior but alternatives are more comfortable to drive and come with more equipment.
This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car
- Roomy inside
- Good fun to drive
- Cheap to buy and run
What's not so good
- Small boot
- Alternatives are more comfortable…
- …And come with more advanced safety kit
Suzuki Swift: what would you like to read next?
If you’re looking for a small hatchback that’s fun to drive, affordable to buy and spacious enough to carry five adults for short trips, the Suzuki Swift is well worth a look.
The Suzuki Swift isn’t just impressively roomy for a small car, it’s also a bit of a looker. Its cool contrasting door pillars make the roof look like it’s hovering above the rest of the car and – if you squint just a bit – there’s something about the Suzuki Swift’s sporty nose that’s reminiscent of the Jaguar F-Type.
Things aren’t quite as exciting when you climb inside, but at least the Suzuki Swift’s interior is intuitively laid out, so you’ll have no trouble figuring out what every dial and knob does. It’s a shame you can’t say the same for the 7-inch touchscreen that comes as standard on all but entry-level models. Sure, it gets smartphone mirroring as standard but it’s nowhere near as visually engaging or easy to use as the systems you get in a Skoda Fabia or VW Polo.
The hard, scratchy plastics dotted about the Suzuki Swift’s cabin also feel a fair bit cheaper than those in most alternatives, but at least they’re hard-wearing and should stand up to many years of abuse.
The Swift’s fabric seats aren’t particularly posh either, but at least they’re nice and supportive there’s plenty of space for you to stretch out if you’re very tall. There’s even enough space to carry three adults in the back, too – for fairly short journeys, at least. You can’t say the same about the Suzuki Swift’s rather small boot, however, but there’s just enough space for a couple of small suitcases and some extra soft bags.
The Suzuki Swift’s party piece is just how much fun it is to drive. If that’s an important consideration for you, then the Swift’s a cheap hatchback that’s well worth considering.
The Suzuki Swift isn’t exactly the sort of car you’ll be taking on long weekend road trips, anyway. More likely, you’ll be popping to the shops or cruising around town on your way to work. In these areas, it performs very well. The large windows and relatively upright seats give you a very good view out and the Swift’s dinky dimensions and light steering help make it a doddle to park.
Its slightly firm suspension doesn’t do a particularly good job of ironing out bumps around town, but it’s one of the main reasons why the Suzuki Swift is such good fun to drive on twisty country backroads. Unlike many softly-sprung hatchbacks, you can fling the Swift from one corner to another with worrying about its tyres losing grip or its body rolling excessively.
The turbocharged one-litre engine isn’t the quickest out there, but its zippy, revvy character makes the Swift feel slightly like an old-school hot hatch on a twisty road. The 1.2-litre model isn’t quite as quick, but it’s cheaper to buy and slightly more economical. If running costs are your main concern, you can get both engines with a hybrid system that helps save fuel when you’re driving in town.
It’s a shame that some other features that’d help make inner-city driving a little easier – such as automatic emergency braking – only comes as standard on top-spec cars, but you shouldn’t let that put you off. The Suzuki Swift is still a very good compact hatchback that’s cheap to buy, economical to run and still good fun to drive.
The Suzuki Swift’s interior isn’t exactly groundbreaking, but all the controls are easy and intuitive to use and all but entry-level models come with a seven-inch touchscreen as standard
The Suzuki Swift has lots of room for passengers in both the front and rear seats, but this comes at the cost of storage space and boot capacity
Suzuki engineers must travel light, because when they developed the new Swift, they seem to have forgotten to include anywhere to put the stuff that people carry with them
The Suzuki Swift is pretty diminutive – even for a compact city car – but it’s impressively roomy inside. The wide door openings, raised roof and high front seat bases mean you’ll have no trouble climbing inside if you’re very tall or have reduced mobility, too.
Once inside, you’ll find there’s plenty of head- and legroom to stretch out and there’s a decent amount of adjustment in the seat to help you get a good view out. Unfortunately, the steering wheel adjusts up and down, but not in and out which isn’t ideal if you’re very tall or rather small.
Unlike many small cars, there’s space in the Suzuki Swift’s back seats for a six-foot passenger to sit behind an equally tall driver. There’s even space to carry three adults abreast (albeit for short journeys) and the Swift’s wide cabin and raised roof means no-one will be banging their heads on the roof in corners.
Sure, the central seat isn’t quite as wide or as comfortable as the outer two and there’s isn’t a great deal of space for three passengers’ feet, but there’s more than enough room to carry three kids without them having any reason to fight over elbow room.
Speaking of kids, the Suzuki Swift’s back doors open almost at right angles to the rest of the car which helps make it a doddle to lift in a child seat. You get two sets of Isofix anchor points as standard, and –unlike in many cars – they aren’t covered by any annoying plastic caps so it’s dead easy to slide a seat into position and lock it in place.
The Swift loses ground to the competition in terms of interior storage space. Both the front and rear doors boast dedicated bottle holders but only the fronts feature a practical pocket, too. The glovebox is quite small and, besides a pair of cupholders in the centre console, the only easy-to-reach cubby is a small tray behind the handbrake.
The Suzuki Swift has 265 litres of bootspace. That’s enough for a pair of small suitcases and some soft bags, but that’s about it. As a result, you’ll be better off with the likes of the Skoda Fabia, Honda Jazz and Hyundai i20 if you regularly carry large suitcases or bulky luggage.
The Suzuki Swift’s boot opening isn’t particularly wide either, and there’s quite a large boot lip that makes it a touch tricky to lift in very heavy boxes. At least you get a handy shopping hook to help stop your groceries rolling around on the way home.
You can fold the Suzuki Swift’s back seats down if you need to carry very long luggage, but even then it isn’t quite as roomy as most other small hatchbacks. There’s also a significant step up behind the back seats which makes it difficult to slide heavy luggage right up behind the front seats.
The Suzuki Swift is only available with two engines, but you can also get it as a hybrid, a fun-to-drive Sports model and even with four-wheel drive
The Suzuki Swift's light weight and agile handling make it feel like a go-kart in corners
The Swift is offered with two petrol engines – an 90hp 1.2-litre four-cylinder unit carried over from the old model and a new 111hp 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder. Both are available with a mild hybrid system – which Suzuki calls its SHVS system – that helps boost performance and fuel economy.
The standard 1.2-litre Dualjet feels reasonably perky around town and has just enough power to keep up with motorway traffic without feeling overworked. Suzuki claims it’ll return 55mpg and you should be able to manage a figure in the high forties without too much trouble. The downside is that it feels pretty sluggish when you put your foot down – accelerating from 0-60mph takes almost 12 seconds.
Go for a top-spec SZ5 model, and things don’t get much better – partly down to the fact that these cars also come with a hybrid system and four-wheel drive as standard. The 0-60mph sprint takes around twelve-and-a-half seconds and fuel economy drops to less than 50mpg. These models are still worth considering if you live somewhere prone to particularly harsh winter weather thanks to the extra grip afforded by their four-wheel-drive system that can send as much as 50% of the engine’s power to the rear wheels.
The best engine in the Suzuki Swift lineup, however, is the one-litre turbocharged Boosterjet unit. This 111hp engine makes the Swift feel much more lively yet returns decent fuel economy – you can expect to see around 45mpg in normal driving conditions compared with Suzuki’s claimed 51.8mpg figure.
Accelerate hard and it feels slightly less smooth than the 1.2-litre unit but its cheeky exhaust note and rev-happy nature make it feel significantly more sporty. It’ll reach 60mph from rest almost 1.5 seconds faster than the standard 1.2-litre model, too.
If you’re after an automatic, this one-litre unit is the engine to go for. The optional six-speed auto helps the Swift reach 60mph from rest 0.6 seconds faster than the manual model but does blunt its fuel economy somewhat – you’ll have to make do with a figure in the low forties.
If you spend a lot of time driving in town, the one-litre SHVS hybrid model is worth considering. It’s the most economical Swift at slow speeds and feels just as nippy as the standard non-hybrid car. It is a little more expensive, however – partly because it’s only available in range-topping SZ5 guise.
In short, the Suzuki Swift is one of the most fun-to-drive small hatchbacks on sale. It makes an excellent city car, too, thanks to its light steering, tight turning circle and excellent visibility that all help make it a breeze to weave through traffic and slide into tight parking spaces.
Unfortunately, there’s only so much the Swift’s rather firm suspension can soak up – even at fairly slow speeds it’ll bounce and buck over large potholes and speed bumps. It’s relatively quiet to travel in, however, although you’ll hear a bit more wind and tyre noise on motorways than in a Skoda Fabia or Ford Fiesta.
Head off the motorway, and you’ll find the Suzuki Swift is surprisingly fun to drive. It’s impressively light – even for such a small car – so it nips from corner to corner more eagerly than most humdrum hatchbacks with very little body lean.
Ignore the large windows, roomy cabin and upright seating position and it feels more like an old-school hot hatch than a practical modern supermini. It’s certainly more than a match for most rivals and puts up a convincing challenge to the likes of the class-leading Ford Fiesta.
For cruising around town, the 1.2-litre Dualjet’s smooth and progressive power delivery makes the most sense but, if your commute takes in a twisty backroad, the boisterous 1.0-litre Boosterjet will put a much bigger smile on your face.
Unfortunately, you don’t get a great deal of driver assistance systems as standard. Only top-spec SZ5 cars get adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking.