Reliability is a key factor for this dated but well-priced, revised supermini
It was great to get back to driving a straightforward car this week.
There are not too many supermini hatchbacks going for under €19,000. The Suzuki Swift is one. Driving it reminded me of years gone when a previous Swift was voted Irish Car of the year.
The name and the car, in one iteration or another, have been around for the best part of 40 years. It just hasn’t been madly prominent in Ireland for a while. That could be changing.
I’m an admirer of the brand and the car – technically excellent – and I still recommend second-hand versions to people looking for a well-priced little runaround.
They are scarce because the brand doesn’t have a major array of dealers all over the country.
But they are, relatively speaking, doing well at the moment with sales up significantly. Good to see.
Their cars have always had a tag of reliability attached. There is an old saying in the motor industry about some cars – mostly Japanese models by the way – that you could ‘weld the bonnet on them’.
In other words, they don’t give trouble and you don’t have to think or worry about stuff going wrong.
Of course stuff goes wrong with even the best of them, but you know what I mean. And I think the Swift can be included in the ‘weld it’ category.
I didn’t drive it hard or fast and I didn’t drive it that far, as matters transpired. But I have to say it did two things at once for me.
First, its slightly dated interior reminded me of how cars of the last two to three years really have become quite dressed up and sophisticated.
We take a lot for granted about what is going on behind the screens and under the skin – not to mention that we are predisposed to paying a €20,000-plus asking price.
Second, its straightforward nature made me feel quite at home and less fussy coming to terms with the latest, sophisticated infotainment system with new-fangled features to make life easier (but more complicated sometimes, I find).
The 4.2ins colour display did a solid job though it really does look dated – even I have to admit that.
Yet at the other end of the scale, for some reason, it felt natural and reassuring to have a conventional handbrake – and to have a normal key and a slot for it. I almost forgot such things existed in these days of keyless entry.
So why am I reviewing the Swift?
Basically because it has had a facelift for looks (especially at the front) and a sizeable increase in standard spec – as well as the inclusion of a ‘mild-hybrid’ petrol engine.
It cumulatively means the car looks a good deal fresher without in anyway breaking moulds. It just gives the whole thing a bit of a lift and, more importantly, keeps it competitively in the shop window for another while.
It’s a smart-enough looking car now and reassuring on the technical front especially.
Yes it shows its age a bit in places with materials and layout around the dash and cabin.
But we are talking realistic here (I hope) and we are talking under €19,000 so let’s not lose the run of ourselves.
The 1.2-litre petrol engine is boosted by a 12-volt mild hybrid system that gives the power plant a little bit of help at certain times. I don’t want you to think it is a hybrid set up as you and I know that word to mean. It is merely a mechanical boost.
As such, the little 1.2-litre was grand in its own way: it didn’t screech and burn rubber from a standing start and it could be a little on the coarse side when revved. Yet I decided I could live with that and I did use the manual gearshift a fair bit down the gears to bring a little bit of pzazz to the party.
Incidentally, there was good room in the rear. They do, rather cleverly, say there is room for three passengers. By that they mean two in the back.
It’s enough, I think, because if they have much by way of luggage, they may not find the boot so accommodating at all.
One of the reasons I liked the car was the around-town drivability where car-lane widths narrow by the day.
Is there a secret invisible ‘lane squad’ that comes out at night and nudges the lines a few more, almost imperceptible, millimetres closer?
And is there another that shortens parking spaces?
Sorry, I’m showing my persecution complex.
Now, I won’t say I was raving about the Swift. It did a lot of things well and was proficient in most things asked of it, but would I buy it?
Mmm, I probably would on the basis of price, its Japanese quality build and the prospect of not having much bother with it.
So bring on the welder.
Suzuki Swift 5dr supermini hatchback
4.5l/100km, 4cyl 1.2 Dualjet mild hybrid petrol, €180 road tax.
SZ-L grade the big seller has a spread of safety elements and driver assists.
Spec includes Adaptive Cruise Control, LED headlights, air-con, DAB radio, privacy glass, 16ins alloys, LED daytime running lights, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone, hill-hold control, high beam assist, electric windows, front fogs, DAB digital radio.
Price: €18,145 with options.