2017 Suzuki Swift Review

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2017 Suzuki Swift Review

Priced From $15,990Information

Overall Rating

0

4 out of 5 stars

Rating breakdown
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Safety, value & features

4 out of 5 stars

Comfort & space

3 out of 5 stars

Engine & gearbox

4 out of 5 stars

Ride & handling

4 out of 5 stars

Technology

5 out of 5 stars

Pros & Cons

  1. ProGood to drive; good with smartphones; auto braking available.

  2. ConLeast costly Swift short on kit.

  3. The Pick: 2017 Suzuki Swift GL Navigator (Safety) 5D Hatchback

What stands out?

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The new-generation Suzuki Swift packs a lot of driver appeal into a short, lightweight hatchback, bringing some fun to your commute and handling country drives capably. Fuel-efficient engines extend to a stirring three-cylinder turbo. Most Swifts are very well equipped, and make a lot of your smartphone. Auto braking is available.

What might bug me?

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That short children can’t get into the back without help – the exterior door handles are mounted almost at roof level. And once inside, the panels that house the handles make it harder to see out.

Driving at 80km/h on your space-saver spare tyre, until you can fix your full-sized flat.

What body styles are there?

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Five-door hatchback only. (Camouflaged rear door-handles make it look like a three-door.)

The Swift drives its front wheels, and it is classed as a light car, lower priced.

What features do all Suzuki Swifts have?

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A sound system with a radio, Aux and USB inputs, Bluetooth connectivity for audio streaming and phone calls, and six speakers.

Height adjustment for the leather-wrapped steering wheel, from which you can operate the cruise control, the audio system, and your phone (via Bluetooth). Height adjustment for the driver’s seat.

Air-conditioning, and power-adjustable door mirrors. Power windows on all four doors

Daytime running lamps, which make it easier for other drivers to see you. Windows tinted against sun penetration.

A space-saver spare wheel, with speed and distance restrictions.

Six airbags. Anti-lock brakes, and electronic stability control – which can help you avoid a skid. (For the placement of airbags, and more on Swift safety features, please open the Safety section below.)

Suzuki warranties the Swift for three years or 100,000km, whichever comes first.

Which engine uses least fuel, and why wouldn't I choose it?

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Two fresh engines are available with the new-generation car, and neither consumes much fuel. On the official test, the 1.2-litre, direct-injected, four-cylinder petrol that powers the less costly Swifts is a narrow winner, using 4.8 litres/100km in auto form.

This is an engaging, revvy little engine that works beautifully in the lightweight Swift.

The alternative engine is a 1.0-litre, three cylinder, turbocharged petrol, available only in the Swift GLX Turbo. It offers you about 30 per cent more grunt in most driving conditions, while consuming about five per cent more fuel on the test.

In the real world, you can expect the 1.0-litre GLX Turbo to just about match its official figure. WhichCar reviewers averaged 5.5 litres/100km over a week of mainly suburban driving.

The 1.2-litre engine is available with an extremely well matched five-speed manual transmission (in the Swift GL) or a CVT auto (Swift GL Navigator). The 1.0-litre engine comes only with a six-speed conventional auto.

A CVT (continuously variable transmission) adjusts the gear ratio steplessly to the conditions and your demands, rather than relying on the fixed ratios of a conventional auto. In principle, a CVT improves acceleration and saves fuel.

What key features do I get if I spend more?

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The least costly Swift, the GL, comes with fabric covered seats, manually controlled air-con, 15-inch steel wheels with plastic trim, a manual gearbox (only), and the 1.2-litre engine described above. The GL is the only Swift to supply a CD player.

Spend more for a Swift GL Navigator and CVT auto transmission is standard. You also get a 7.0-inch touchscreen, a reversing camera, and built-in satellite navigation. The radio receives digital (DAB+) signals, and the screen can play movies from the USB port or an SD card. There is support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which lets you display smartphone apps on the touchscreen and control them from there (or by voice). Daytime running lamps are illuminated by extremely long-lived, and energy-efficient, LEDs. Hill-hold control makes it easier to take off on uphill slopes, by operating the brakes automatically. And your wheels will be an inch bigger, shod with sportier looking tyres with a marginally lower profile, and made from aluminium alloy – which does not need plastic trim.

To the GL Navigator you can add, at extra cost, a Safety pack that brings you Adaptive cruise control – it will slow you to the speed of a car in front on the highway, resuming your pre-set speed when the way is clear. In addition, the Safety pack provides you with three active driver aids: autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning, and a weaving alert.

Spending more again for a Swift GLX Turbo gets you the more powerful, turbocharged, engine, and a six-speed conventional auto gearbox. Climate-control air-conditioning maintains a set temperature, and you can unlock the car and drive away without removing the smart key from your pocket or bag. The steering wheel adjusts for reach as well as height. Headlights use very bright LEDs, which light up by themselves when it’s dark, and switch between high and low beam when required. Tyres are slightly wider and lower again in profile, for more grip and sharper steering. And the GLX Turbo comes with all the features of the GL Navigator, as well as those of the Safety pack.

Does any upgrade have a down side?

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Only the least costly Swift, the GL, comes with a manual gearbox, which may disappoint people who want to make the most of the Swift’s enthusiasm for sporty driving while enjoying some of the extra features you get with the others. The five-speed gearchange is a delight.

Similarly, only the GL accommodates people who want to play music directly from a CD.

The Swift comes standard in white. Other external colours cost extra.

How comfortable is the Suzuki Swift?

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The new Swift brings a sporty feel to the cabin, seating the driver behind a mildly flat-bottomed, three-spoke steering wheel and big round dials for the major instruments. They comprise an analogue tachometer (which lets you know how fast the engine is spinning) and speedo, placed either side of a small display that can show the time, the temperature outside, current fuel consumption, and your range till you need to refuel.

Storage for odds, ends, and drink containers has been nicely thought through, and in general the cabin feels classy (for the price), if somewhat monochromatic. Big ventilation outlets dominate the top of the dash in the centre. Below them is the media interface (a colour touchscreen on all but the manual-gearbox GL), with ventilation controls under that.

This Swift rides on a 20mm longer wheelbase than its predecessor, allowing a bit more space for those in the back, but it is also wider and has a lower roofline. There is more space than previously between the front seats, and these have been placed lower in the car to keep tall people out of the roof lining. So you have more space, but the Swift still feels cosy – in a good way.

The ride is on the firm side of cushy but on the flipside there is enough control that you feel well looked after, with nippy steering that nevertheless remains reassuring.

The 1.2-litre engine and CVT auto in GL navigators supply plenty of can-do urge at suburban speeds with no obvious quirks, working hand-in-glove with the all-new chassis to endow this cheery little car with a sense of integrity.

What about safety in a Swift?

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Every Swift comes with anti-lock brakes, stability control, six airbags, pretensioners on the front and outer rear seatbelts, and daytime running lamps (which help other drivers see you). It is a safety package that emphasises your control of the car, and your protection in a collision.

There are airbags in front of the driver and front passenger, and another two immediately outside the driver and passenger to protect you at chest level from side impacts. In addition, a curtain airbag on each side extends past both seat rows at head level, protecting all outer occupants from side impacts.

Swift GL Navigators and the GLX Turbo have a reversing camera, which helps you check for the presence of people behind you.

Optional on the GL Navigator, and standard on the GLX Turbo, are auto cruise control (which can reduce fatigue on long journeys) and three other active driver aids: Autonomous emergency braking, Lane departure warning, and a Weaving alert.

The auto braking uses laser and camera sensors to monitor the road ahead, and Suzuki says it is effective at speeds up to about 100km/h. If it recognises a collision risk – typically because a car ahead has slowed suddenly – it will trigger a warning buzzer and an alert on the dashboard. If you ignore the warning and it concludes a collision is imminent, it will apply the brakes automatically, with the aim of avoiding the crash or reducing your speed at impact.

The lane-departure warning monitors your position in relation to highway lane-markings, looking for signs you are drifting into another lane without indicating (possibly from distraction or fatigue). It attracts your attention with a visual warning on the dash, and by vibrating the steering wheel.

The weaving alert looks specifically for signs you might be falling asleep, comparing how steadily you are steering the car over time. If your behaviour indicates you are weary, it will trigger audible and visual warnings.

The GLX Turbo (only) also looks after the headlights for you when you are driving at night. Its self-levelling LED headlights switch themselves on in poor light, and at speeds over 40km/h will switch to low-beam where there is street lighting, or where there is a risk they might dazzle a driver you are following or someone driving towards you.

Forward vision is very good in a Swift, but the design of the rear doors (with high-mounted handles) and rear roof-pillars expands the usual blind spot when checking over your shoulders for nearby cars behind.

The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) has not rated this Swift.

I like driving - will I enjoy this car?

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Yes you can expect to enjoy the Swift, and in whatever form you elect to accept it. The GL is a spartan drive by today’s new-car standards, with a rudimentary media interface and a manual gearbox, but that five-speeder mates so blissfully to the free-spinning engine that some might feel sorry for those going auto.

Except in stop-start conditions, of course, which the GL Navigator makes light of. To the convenience of CVT take-offs, it adds superior smartphone connectivity – allowing hand-and-eye-free communication, while enhancing your access to music sources online.

Neither transmission lets you command exciting levels of thrust from the 1.2-litre engine, and brisk overtakes at highway speeds will require planning. But either of the less costly Swifts spins along happily while you take in the scenery, helped by Suzuki’s trademark low weight – the new car is lighter by a passenger and a half than the car it replaces (it is lighter also than most near alternatives), and it slips through the air more easily too.

It is becoming something of a cliche to say of new-generation cars about this size that they hold the road like a bigger car, and to say so captures only part of the point. The Swift still drives like a very small car – compact and lightweight and easily mastered. What you can say more precisely is that it rides and handles like a more expensive car, with better and more attentively tuned rolling-chassis bits than have been the norm in the past. The Swift still points crisply into corners but it holds a line more serenely than its predecessor, allowing a less watchful attitude to heaves and lumps in the road.

The driver’s car among Swifts is arguably the GLX Turbo, which pulls about 30 per cent harder when you flex your right ankle. That is more go than you need around town, but it is welcome once outside city limits, giving you more opportunities to exploit the Swift’s biddable nature. The Turbo generates progress in a more relaxed fashion, reserving some muted but effervescent commentary for when you loosen its leash.

You can’t get the GLX Turbo with a manual gearbox, but shift paddles mounted on the steering wheel give you some manual control over its six-speed conventional auto.

How is life in the rear seats?

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Suzuki says it has added about 20mm of knee room for rear-seat passengers, expanding the tight dimensions of the outgoing car, and it has also lowered the seat to add about that much headroom. A pair of adult passengers could sit comfortably in the back.

There are lap-sash belts for three rear passengers.

It is likely you will have to help small people open the rear doors, as the handles are positioned very high near the top of the window frames. The consequent shrinking of the rear windows also constrains the ability of rear passengers to see out.

How is it for carrying stuff?

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The boot on the new Swift is bigger than on the car it replaces, offering 240 litres behind the rear seats. That is still a little on the small side for a light hatchback – it is about as much space as you get in a Mazda2 – and you can squeeze a lot more into a Kia Rio or (especially with the rear seats tucked away) a Honda Jazz.

The rear seats on the Swift fold 60-40, which adds flexibility for carrying long objects, but they do not fold flat with the boot floor.

In-cabin storage extends to bottle-holders front and rear, and a pocket behind the front passenger seat.

Where is the Swift made?

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Swifts sold in Australia are made in Japan.

What might I miss that similar cars have?

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Possibly some extra help when changing lanes or backing out of a parking spot. Some Mazda2s, for example, supply a blind-spot alert, which lets you know when an adjacent vehicle is travelling near your rear corner – in a place that your mirrors don’t cover. They also have a rear cross-traffic alert, which looks behind you to either side when you are reversing – reducing the chance you will back into the path of a crossing vehicle.

The Mazda2 and some other light cars such as the Kia Rio also offer rear parking sensors, which help you judge how close you are to hard objects behind you.

More versatility for carrying cargo. The champ here in a car of similar size is the Honda Jazz.

Among other light cars you might consider are the Volkswagen Polo, Ford Fiesta, Renault Clio, Toyota Yaris, and Hyundai Accent. Suzuki also makes a very small SUV, called the Ignis.

Are there plans to update the Swift soon?

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This Swift arrived as a new-generation car in June 2017. You can expect Suzuki will adjust equipment levels and might even add variants at short notice, but a facelift is not likely before 2020.

Suzuki is expected to add a performance-oriented Swift Sport in 2018. The Swift Sport, shown for the first time at the Frankfurt motor show in September 2017, will use the 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine that Suzuki offers in its Vitara SUV.

I like this car, but I can't choose which version. Can you help?

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For a feature-rich, all-round good drive, with auto transmission for easy progress in heavy traffic, the GL Navigator is the value bet. That also gives you access to the safety pack for an extra $1000 or so, worth considering for the additional peace of mind and active cruise control.

For keen drivers, both the bare-bones GL manual and the stirring and well specified GLX Turbo satisfy – albeit in different ways, and at divergent prices.