Tuesday 19 September 2017

All-new Swift to fly high

It's uncertain times for buyers, as the Suzuki Swift is totally refreshed to win some hearts. Campbell Spray reports

Masses of space: The Suzuki Swift did an uncle proud
Masses of space: The Suzuki Swift did an uncle proud
Campbell Spray

Campbell Spray

There's a lot of noise out there for people looking at changing their car, especially if they are thinking of buying new.

The problems with diesels, the rise of electrics, taxation policies and the collapse of sterling since the Brexit vote are all having an impact on people's decisions even before they enter a showroom. In fact, fewer and fewer people are going to showrooms as they consider buying new. So much of the searching is now done online and then the visit is made to the dealer to cement the purchase. The tyre-kicking days are over.

All the uncertainty and changes to come mean that for lot of people, their car purchase in the next year could be the last conventional choice they make. Car-sharing schemes, driverless cars and penal emissions policies - elsewhere even if not here - will change the landscape.

While I am a great believer in using the dealer nearest to you and having a good lasting relationship with them, the possible advantages of shopping across the border should also be considered while sterling is in its present parlous state.

I looked on the website of one dealer for Hyundai in Newry and was amazed at some of the bargains. The dealer makes everything very easy with the euro price next to the sterling and a link to the VRT calculator. At the very least, it may enable you to bargain down the price back here.

I was looking as part of my search for the next small car to purchase to replace our Hyundai i10 and the latest contender was the Suzuki Swift, which has just been relaunched.

The Swift has been around since the middle 1980s, but only in 2005 did it make headway as a good-looking, almost Mini-like, offering. It was awarded 2006 Semperit Irish Car of the Year and over the next decade, it evolved into a very tasty competitor, but the latest third-generation model could make a real breakthrough. It is better-looking, lighter, bigger and has some great engines, including a hybrid offering. I had a chance to get some other opinions on it last week.

My New Zealand nephew Mark and his girlfriend Emma were visiting Dublin and I promised an early-morning pick up from the airport and a tour around the capital. Of course, I would have preferred the BMW 5 series which I am driving this weekend but the Swift was the duty car last Monday.

I apologised for it but shouldn't have. There was massive space both front and rear - where three could sit with a slight squeeze - and the boot swallowed their two cases, although there is a big lip and the seat backs don't fold to make a flat luggage space if needed. Headroom was great. The feisty three-cylinder Booster jet engine linked to the automatic box was just what was needed for the uncle's tour as talking and changing gear is beyond me.

There was an awful lot of spec - especially safety - on board the top-of-the-range SHZ version I was testing. However, some of the cabin materials were lacking in quality and will look quite trashy after a big mileage. The car was also a bit noisy.

For driving, safety and size, it was as good as any small car I have driven, although the automatic box had quite a noticeable effect on economy. Overall, it has a good range to suit most needs, including All-Grip driving.

Since 2005, nearly six million Swifts have been sold and Suzuki comes very high in the JD Power reliability survey, however, I think its three-year warranty should be upgraded to meet its Ford, Hyundai and Kia competition.

The Suzuki Swift SZ5 Auto I was driving could have outscored the opposition and made it permanently into the garage at Spray Towers, but at €21,365 it was a bit pricey. It wasn't quite comfortable enough despite all the gizmos on board. However I still might look North for a deal.

Sunday Independent

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