Suzuki make Swift progress with new supermini, but be sure you pick 1-litre petrol star of the show
First drive - England: Suzuki Swift
Suzuki's rebuild goes on with the new Swift supermini.
Helping it big-time is the wonderful 1-litre 3cyl petrol engine that is now setting many of the brand's models apart.
It just goes to show how something such as a really good engine can have a halo effect on a line-up.
Not only that, but it is contributing to 10pc lower emissions and 20pc more power.
The Swift is slightly smaller than the Baleno, which has made an immediate impact here, but it is aimed at a different sort of buyer.
The Baleno is for more practical duties, they say. The Swift is more for the bit of 'emotion'. I'm not so sure about that at all. I like the Baleno a lot.
Anyway, this new Swift is 1cm shorter (3.85m), 4cm wider, 3cm lower and has 2cm more wheelbase than before, making it slightly smaller than the old one.
It is also 120kg lighter (now 890kg) thanks to fewer components.
One of the few criticisms of the old one was the poor boot size; this is up 25pc to 265 litres. It seemed roomier in the cabin than the current one; there was good back-seat and boot space.
It gets into dealers here mid-month and officially goes on sale from June 1.
Key rivals include the SEAT Ibiza, Skoda Fabia, Hyundai i20, KIA Rio and Mazda2.
Prices start from €14,995 on-the-road for the SZ3 (1.2-litre only); €16,995 for the SZ-T and €18,995 for the SZ5.
Standard equipment includes air con, DAB radio, privacy glass, LED daytime running lights, Bluetooth, six airbags.
SZ-T, the anticipated big seller (it includes the 1-litre Boosterjet engine) adds smartphone-link display audio, rear-view camera, front fogs and 16in alloys.
Top-of-range spec SZ5 adds adaptive cruise control, auto air con, sat nav, LED headlamps, polished 16in alloys, rear electric windows.
With SZ5 you can also order the marque's ALLGRIP Auto 4WD system with the 1.2-litre Dualjet engine. It's not an automatic; just called ALLGRIP Auto.
An interesting addition too is the mild hybrid system (SHVS), which boosts power and helps cut fuel consumption.
But after driving the 1.2SZ5 SHVS Dualjet, the 1-litre Boosterjet SZ5 SHVS and automatic, I have to say the only car for me would be one driven by the Boosterjet engine. I was disappointed in the other. The 1-litre brought a different dimension to how the car drove and felt. I can't stress that enough.
I wouldn't have been that impressed with the car's overall handling either. I'm not sure it is such a big step up on the current one in that respect. But it does look well - different - and there is that sense of room in the cabin.
We drove versions of it through the Peak district, where large fields are divided by neatly constructed stone walls - shades of the west of Ireland. And it was real-world driving on undulating country roads which showed the 1.2-litre in poor light and the 1-litre in all its glory.
We even had the pleasure of waiting a few minutes while a herd of 100 cows (I asked the owner) crossed our path on the way to be milked.
With the addition of the Swift, the Suzuki line-up here is looking quite fresh now; among its more recent arrivals are the Belano, S-Cross and Ignis - that's a lot of cars in a short time. Which also means they are not a one-trick pony any more - by over-relying on the Vitara for sales.
The interesting sub-text is the increased proportion of petrols driving their cars. There was no mention of diesel. It is really only a big player with the Vitara.
One thing in the Swift's favour is that it is the first to replace an existing model for some time, so there is a good buyer database. Hard to believe the first one was made in 2005 and then updated in 2010.
I wouldn't say this new one is as impactful in terms of drive, but it has one sure-fire hit in its locker: that excellent 1-litre engine.