Suzuki is hoping that a focus on core strengths, together with a reappraisal of some long-standing weaknesses, will carry the new third-generation supermini to a 40% sales volume improvement in the UK, which is already the car’s biggest single European market.
Switching to the same platform as the larger Baleno, the new Swift is marginally shorter than the car it replaces, with a slightly lower roofline but a longer wheelbase. Wider use of ultra-high-strength steels in its construction has contributed to a significant weight saving for the car, with entry-level 1.2-litre versions weighing less than 900kg: some 120kg less than their predecessors.
Cabin space is up by 25% and luggage storage space has grown from 200 to 254 litres. Access is also improved thanks to a body optimised for a five-door layout – the only format available with the new model – with rear door handles hidden ahead of the car’s C-pillars.
Suzuki chief engineer Masao Kobori told Autocar that chassis development on the Swift has been done extensively on UK roads as well as in Spain and Germany, and that the Ford Fiesta had been Suzuki’s key benchmark for the Swift’s handling.
“We believe we have matched the Fiesta’s handling, but the Swift does not have the same handling feel as the Ford because it is a much lighter car,” Kobori said. “We have expended every possible effort, in every area, to save weight, which also sharpens the car’s handling, and we have wider axle tracks, a lower driver’s hip point and a lower centre of gravity.”
The 2017 Swift comes in SZ3, SZ-T and SZ5 trim levels with two petrol and one petrol-hybrid drivetrain available. Both five-speed manual and six-speed automatic transmissions are offered.
SZ3 cars gets a Dualjet 1.2-litre four-cylinder engine that produces 89bhp and offers 65.7mpg while emitting 98g/km. Six airbags, air conditioning, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, digital radio with Bluetooth and front electric speakers come as standard inside, and the exterior gets LED day running lights and 15in alloy wheels.
SZ-T models gain the option of a Boosterjet 1.0-litre three-pot with 109bhp on offer. CO2 emissions for the turbocharged unit are 104g/km and combined fuel economy is 61.1mpg. A rear view camera, 7in touchscreen with Mirrorlink, Apple Carplay and Android Auto, 16in alloys and fog lamps are added to this trim.
Top of the range is the SZ5, which gets an extra mild-hybrid powertrain option. Using the Boosterjet unit and an integrated starter motor, it can generate electricity through regenerative braking and trims CO2 emissions to 97g/km. Due to its compact nature, the hybrid system adds just 6.2kg to the powertrain’s weight. An optional all-wheel drive system called Allgrip can be fitted to SZ5 models with the 1.2-litre engine.
The Swift SZ5 also gets a 4.2in LCD display in place of dials. It comes with new driver assist technology including a forward detection system that uses a monocolour camera and laser sensor that can see in the dark. They first provide the driver with a visual and audio warning when an impact is likely, before triggering autonomous braking that can maximise brake pressure to avoid an impact. The technology offers lane departure warning and high beam assist, and an additional radar device enables adaptive cruise control.
Sales for the new Suzuki Swift start on 1 June. Pricing is yet to be confirmed, but expect a small increase on the outgoing model, which starts at £8,999. The car will be built at Suzuki’s Sagara plant in Japan.