Suzuki's Swift has long been one of our favourite superminis and makes particular sense in efficient Dualjet 1.2-litre petrol form. Jonathan Crouch reports.
The latest sixth generation Suzuki Swift gets a decently efficient engine in the shape of the volume 1.2-litre Dualjet petrol unit. It can average over 65mpg and return less than 100g/km of CO2. Otherwise, the highlights are as with other versions of this latest model, including a better quality cabin and extra safety equipment.
Is there a more underrated supermini available on the UK market than the Suzuki Swift? We don't think so. As much as we love the Ford Fiesta, the Volkswagen Polo and the Renault Clio, there's a lot to be said about keeping things simple. Suzuki has long adhered to this mantra, developing cars that offer what you need and not a whole lot extra, with prices reflecting that fact. Its Swift model has come through a number of iterations and by now, you might expect it to have gone all polished and upmarket, but it still feels peppy and infectious like superminis always used to. That's a good thing.
Most customers buy a Swift powered by a 1.2-litre Dualjet petrol engine and we can see why because this powerplant is also a very good thing. Read on and we'll explain why.
The Dualjet engine develops 90PS and 120Nm of torque at 4000rpm which is key. Most choose the conventional version, but also available is an 'ALLGRIP' 4x4 model that pairs this 1.2-litre unit with Suzuki's 'SHVS' mild hybrid technology. Here though, our focus is on the standard model. Unlike some similarly-priced entry-level petrol-powered superminis, you don't have to row this one along with the gearlever to make decent progress. It's not exactly concussive in its acceleration though, getting to 62mph in 11.9 seconds en route to 112mph, but numbers don't always tell you everything.
The bald stats don't do anything to convey how much fun the Swift is to drive. They don't give you a clue as to how light and direct the 5-speed manual transmission is, how effortless yet faithful the steering is or how that lightweight engine helps create a front end that just loves to be thrown at a corner. Drive one and you can't help but feel that this is almost the perfect small car for cities, with just about enough suspension compliance to cope with city streets without ruining the perky handling. Out on the motorway, the Swift can feel a little out of its comfort zone, with some road noise filtering in and the steering, which is so good in town, feels a bit lighter than perhaps you'd like. That said, it's been designed for a purpose and it does that job really well.
As for the looks, well this is still recognisably a Swift, familiar cues including the wraparound windscreen, the upright headlamps and the smiley lower air intake. This five-door-only MK6 model is 40mm wider than its predecessor, but also 10mm shorter and 15mm lower. More significantly, thanks to its new platform, it's also significantly lighter, tipping the scales at a mere 890kgs in entry-level trim. Even the hybrid version is just 925kg.
Inside, the cabin no longer has quite such a budget brand feel, thanks to a re-designed dashboard and the installation of more supportive seats. Cabin storage space isn't that great though - the glovebox is notably small. A longer wheelbase delivers more interior space too. Suzuki says that the hip point measurement has been lowered by 20mm in the front and as much as 45mm in the rear. Two fully-sized adults will be quite happy here, as will three kids. The boot's bigger too, now 25% larger, with capacity increased to 265-litres. That's easily enough for a couple of carry-on bags.
Prices for the base Dualjet 1.2-litre SZ3 model start at around £11,000 and that buys you a five-door car with a 5-speed manual gearbox. If you want an auto, you'll need to stretch to the pricier 'Boosterjet' powerplant. The only other option is a 4x4 'ALLGRIP' variant that pairs the Dualjet engine with Suzuki's SHVS mild hybrid technology and comes only with plusher 'SZ5' trim priced at around £15,500.
The Swift isn't a car that majors on a whole bunch of luxuries, but the SZ3 trim level doesn't do too badly for kit. Six airbags, air conditioning, a leather steering wheel, a DAB radio with Bluetooth and four speakers, rear privacy glass, LED daytime running lights, 15-inch wheels, body coloured door mirrors and front electric windows are all included. As you'd expect in this day and age, every model has ABS anti-lock brakes, ESP stability control and a brake assist function for emergency stops. There's also a tyre pressure monitoring system, along with twin front, side and curtain airbags, plus there are two Isofix child seat mounts in the rear bench.
Yes, the clue's in the name. The Dualjet engine features twin injectors for improved fuel economy with 65.7mpg on the EC combined fuel consumption cycle and 98g/km of CO2. If you go for the mild hybrid 'SHVS' 'ALLGRIP' model, the figures are 62.8mpg and 101g/km.
So what's the advantage of the Dualjet unit's two-fuel injector configuration? It sounds like you'd just be firing in twice as much petrol. Not so, says Suzuki. The Dualjet system positions the fuel injectors very close to the engine inlet valves and this allows for a finer fuel atomisation (or mixture) which in turn provides a more effective transfer into the engine. There's also a start/stop system to prevent the engine idling in traffic.
As for the 'SHVS' mild hybrid ALLGRIP model, well here, an electric starter motor - Suzuki calls it an 'ISG' or 'Integrated Starter Generator' - assists the petrol engine in certain situations. The 'ISG' harvests kinetic energy when you brake and converts it into electrical energy that stops and starts the engine in heavy traffic and provides a mild extra power boost as you accelerate.
The Dualjet engine gives this car a dash of character. Which is good because the Swift remains a quite lovely little supermini, especially if you like driving. It really does feel like an honest car that enjoys being blatted about. The interior still lacks a certain polish and it's not the cheapest in its class to insure, but the Dualjet engine brings us maybe the best-driving sub-100g/km car that sensible money can buy.
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