Things we like
- Sharp steering
- Attractive styling
Not so much
- Tight rear seat and small boot
What stands out?Suzuki’s compact Swift is good looking and brings an enviable reputation for reliability. A responsive and efficient engine and well-tuned steering and suspension make the 2015-2016 Swift a lively drive, and it feels good inside.
What might bug me?Battling to get that last bag of shopping into the Swift’s small boot.
Driving at less than 80km/h on the space-saver spare, until you can fix your full-sized flat tyre.
Wishing you had a spare tyre, if you own the most expensive Swift, the Sport. It is supplied with only a tyre repair kit.
What body styles are there?Five-door hatchback.
The Swift drives its front wheels, and it is classed as a light car, lower priced.
What features do all versions have?Air-conditioning, cruise control, a leather trimmed steering wheel, cloth seat trim, power windows, and power-adjusted exterior mirrors.
A CD/radio audio system with USB and Bluetooth connectivity. Buttons on the steering wheel for operating the audio system and the cruise control.
Seven airbags: two directly in front of the driver and front passenger; one alongside each front occupant to protect the upper body; a curtain airbag on each side to protect the heads of front and rear occupants; and a knee protection airbag for the driver.
Electronic stability control, which can help the driver to control a skidding car. All new cars must have this feature.
Every Suzuki Swift carries a three-year, 100,000 kilometre warranty.
Which engine uses least fuel, and why wouldn't I choose it?That’s a trick question in this case. If you want a manual gearbox, the 1.4-litre four-cylinder offered in all Swift versions except for the most expensive (the Sport) is the most fuel efficient engine. It uses 5.5 litres/100km on the official test (urban and country combined).
The 1.4 is a good engine that offers a great balance of acceleration and fuel economy.
However, in automatic form, it is rated at 6.2 litres/100km.
Which means that if you want an automatic Swift, the 1.6-litre engine in the Sport model is just as good on fuel – while endowing the car with about 30 per cent more verve in most driving conditions.
What makes the difference here is the Sport’s more sophisticated automatic gearbox. All other Swifts have a conventional automatic with just four fixed ratios, whereas the Sport has a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that is more efficient.
The Sport also has a different manual gearbox from the other models – it has six ratios, where the others have five. Notwithstanding the extra ratio, the manual Sport uses slightly more fuel than either automatic.
What key features do I get if I spend more?The least costly Swift, the GL, rolls on 15-inch steel wheels. Spend more for the GL Navigator and you get a 6.1-inch colour touchscreen with satellite navigation and a voice command function, as well as front foglights.
Spend more again for the GLX Navigator and you get in addition keyless entry and start, which allows you to unlock and start the car while the key remains secure in your pocket or bag. The air-conditioning maintains a set temperature, and the steering wheel adjusts for reach. Rear disc brakes replace drum brakes, bringing a small increase in braking power. The GLX also has LED daytime running lights, and larger, nicer looking, 16-inch aluminium alloy wheels. Tyres are wider and lower in profile, which quickens steering response and adds grip.
Sport versions of the Swift have the more powerful, 1.6-litre engine, with the extra ratio in manual gearbox versions and paddle gear-shifters on the automatic. The Swift Sport looks sharper, with 17-inch wheels mounting yet wider tyres, a rear spoiler, body side skirts, a different front grille design, dual exhaust pipes, and very bright high intensity discharge headlights. It also has firmer suspension, and deeper front seats with red stitching and ‘Sport’ logos.
Does any upgrade have a down side?The Swift Sport’s 17-inch wheels bring a small reduction in ride comfort as a result of their lower profile tyres, because there is less air between the wheel and the road. The firmer, ‘sports tuned’ suspension also diminishes comfort. The bigger wheels increase the minimum turning circle by about 80cm, because they can’t turn left and right quite as far.
Only white is a standard colour on the Swift. The other five shades available carry an additional charge of about $500.
How comfortable is it?The Swift is among the more comfortable light cars available. It doesn’t quite ride with the polished absorbance of the Volkswagen Polo, but it feels smoother than a Toyota Yaris, for example.
Occupants are well isolated from tyre, suspension and wind noise, which makes the Swift a good proposition for longer trips.
The seating position in the front offers good vision, and there’s manual seat height adjustment for the driver.
While the cabin is relatively plain, and largely made from hard plastics, the design is neat and functional and it appears well put together. The standard leather steering wheel feels satisfyingly sporty.
What about safety?Every Suzuki Swift attains a safety rating of Very Good.
The driver’s knee airbag, and the voice recognition system on versions above the entry-level GL, count towards the Swift’s rating, and are items not found on some alternative light cars.
No Suzuki swift offers active safety aids such as city-speed automatic emergency braking.
The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) awarded the Suzuki Swift its maximum five-star rating for safety.
I like driving - will I enjoy this car?Yes, you will enjoy driving the Suzuki Swift. The Sport is especially rewarding to drive, but all versions are fun to drive.
The Swift’s electrically assisted power steering responds precisely and is quick and communicative, which conveys confidence in a variety of driving conditions.
The Swift turns eagerly into corners and flows smoothly through them, the suspension delivering a pleasing balance between the front and rear wheels.
Tyres on versions other than the Sport are biased more towards fuel economy than handling – they are made from a harder rubber than high-performance tyres, which means a bit less grip. However this will only bother enthusiastic drivers, who can choose the Sport instead.
The basic engine does a good job of accelerating the Suzuki, especially with the manual transmission.
The extra power of the 1.6 in the Sport adds enjoyment. Its CVT automatic can be manually shifted through seven steps using paddles behind the steering wheel, which makes it more fun than other automatic Swifts.
How is life in the rear seats?The Swift’s wheelbase – the distance between the front and rear axles – is among the shortest for light cars, but the rear seat is well designed. The Swift will be cramped in the back only for particularly tall passengers, who won’t have enough knee or head room.
The rear seat cushion is well angled and the cloth trim in all versions is comfortable and seems hard-wearing.
Vision out from the rear seat of a Swift is more restricted than from some similar cars because the lower edges of its side windows taper upwards towards the rear of the car, which makes the windows quite small.
The seat can carry three passengers, with lap and sash belts for all.
How is it for carrying stuff?If you will often have passengers in the back, the Suzuki Swift is not great for carrying stuff. Light cars all offer fairly small boots, but the Swift’s is among the smallest.
Suzuki quotes a cargo bay volume of 210 litres with the rear seatbacks upright and luggage loaded up to the parcel shelf.
With the 60/40 split fold rear seatback lowered, cargo volume increases to 533 litres loaded to the window line, or 900 litres loaded to the roof – which is plenty, provided there are only two of you.
Where is it made?The Suzuki Swift is manufactured in Japan.
What might I miss that similar cars have?The effortless low-speed accelerator pedal response of turbocharged light cars such as the Renault Clio and Volkswagen Polo, if you’ve ever test-driven them.
Six forward gears in both manual and automatic versions of non-Sport Swifts. Many other light cars offer six-speed gearboxes, to the benefit of responsiveness, fuel economy and cruising quietness.
The latest active safety features, such as automatic emergency braking, are not available on the Swift. The Mazda2 offers low-speed auto braking as an extra-cost option.
The Renault Clio and Kia Rio have longer warranties, at five and seven years respectively.
Other light cars worth considering include the Ford Fiesta and Honda Jazz.
Among smaller alternatives are the Fiat 500 and Holden Spark. The Spark allows you to view and control compatible smartphone apps from its central touchscreen, via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
I like this car, but I can't choose which version. Can you help?Certainly. The Swift GL is our pick of the line-up, either standard or in Navigation form – which adds about $1500. The GL is quite well equipped. If you want to spend more than this, there are excellent alternatives to consider.
When did Suzuki update this Swift?This Suzuki Swift arrived in Australia in 2011. An all-new Swift replaced this car in June 2017, bringing more serene but still very sharp handling, more space inside, better smartphone connectivity, auto emergency braking, and the option of an effervescent turbocharged engine.
Things we like
- Sharp steering
- Attractive styling
Not so much
- Tight rear seat and small boot
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