ON PAPER, the Suzuki Swift entered Wheels Car of the Year testing with an instant disadvantage: priced from $16,000, it’s easily the cheapest car to fall under the judges’ scrutiny. But small and cheap doesn’t have to mean stingy. And so the delightful new Swift proved.
It all comes down to the realisation that Suzuki may have built an inexpensive car, but they haven’t made it cheap. Words such as “polished”, “roomy”, “suave” and “premium” all feature strongly in conversations about how the Swift drives. “This is the kind of car that doesn’t punish people for having a low-end budget,” said judge Noelle Faulkner.
Terrifically chuckable handling is underpinned by a commendable emphasis on lightweighting, with Suzuki removing as much unnecessary mass as possible to give Swift’s engines a leg-up in life. Both the naturally aspirated 1.2-litre four and turbocharged 1.0-litre triple feel bigger than they actually are.
About the only spanner in the works is for anyone wanting one of those old-school manual transmissions. If you like shifting gears yourself, you’ll also be flicking through a Gregorys or Melways (or looking at your smartphone when stopped!) because sat-nav is mutually exclusive. But if you don’t mind opting for Suzuki’s likeable CVT transmission, then a Swift GL with the multimedia works burger is all yours.
The same applies to Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) – reserved for the range-topping GLX – which also shirks potentially the most fun combination (a six-speed manual turbo triple) for the meantime in Australia, if not Europe.
But all that is outweighed by an extensive list of positives. The Suzuki Swift is at the pointy end of this year’s COTY field because it doesn’t feel, ride or drive like its meagre price-tag would have suggest. And that’s a really tough talent to master.