The Suzuki Swift would score more highly here were it not for the power delivery of its 1.2-litre petrol engine, which we suspect won’t suit every buyer, even if Suzuki says it’s targeting younger types with this car. That’s because this sweet-spinning unit produces its best work from around 4000rpm, at which point the revcounter’s needle advances with a rorty beat and noticeably more vigour.
Although you wouldn’t call the Swift slow below this engine speed, it’s short of no-nonsense grunt, as might be expected with a 4800rpm torque peak. Instead, you must rev it and use the gearbox, which at least serves a particularly slick shift – characteristics that are fun for keen drivers but inconvenient for those who aren’t. The lowish gearing is no surprise with an engine this small – second is good for 53mph, third for 77mph – and underscores the need to continually stir the gearbox.
The fact that the Swift hits 60mph in 11.6sec – very good for a 1.2 - demonstrates that it is possible to travel briskly in this car, though, and the process is made all the more enjoyable by an engine so smooth and willing. But the 10.5sec lug from 30-50mph in fourth, although adequate, is less sparkling, and while the engine is also remarkable for the low speeds from which it can pull the higher gears, it could use more low-down tug. You can feel the soft clunk of the air conditioning compressor cutting in and out as well.
But there’s little else to criticise, especially given the powertrain’s strong fuel economy. We recorded 42.8mpg overall – an excellent result, given that this included our performance testing, so 50mpg plus should be a real possibility.
The diesel promises a very credible average mpg and performance isn’t that far off the petrol car, but you'll have to go quite a few thousand miles before the economy saving of the extra mileage offsets the higher initial outlay. The diesel is a decent enough motor, being willing and reasonably refined, but it makes sense for only a small proportion of buyers.