There’s no poverty SZ2 4x4, and the SZ3 variant apes its front-drive counterpart for looks and kit (alloys, air-con, Bluetooth and front fogs are highlights) for a premium of £1200, while subtle front and rear skid plates and black side skirts and wheel-arch edges join the SZ4’s extensive spec list that now includes LED running lights, folding mirrors, keyless start and cruise control. It costs £1800 more than the equivalent front-driver.
What's it like?
All 4x4 Swifts have five doors and use the modest but sweet-spinning 1.2-litre VVT four-pot petrol engine to produce 93bhp and 87lb ft, dispatched through a five-speed manual transmission who’s gearing has been slightly shortened. Thankfully the ’box is neat and nippy, because you’ll want to keep revs between 4500 and 6000rpm for decent progress, especially if gravity is against you. The engine’s fizzing isn’t a burden at those levels, though, and it’s near silent at just over 3000rpm when cruising in fifth.
Four-wheel drive adds 65kg, but kerb weight still barely breaches the tonne, and the extra ride height doesn’t damage handling composure much: roll and dive are well bridled, and nicely judged damping lends tidy body control. The ride is generally very good, with some motorway fidgeting a minor complaint.
Push the Swift to its traditional washout point and the viscous coupling quietly does its business to stabilise your line, contributing both safety and a good helping of fun. Loose-surface getaways were also well controlled, and a rutted forest track left the car’s underside unscathed. Switch to winter tyres (which Suzuki can assist with) when the nights draw in and you’ll have a strong package with which to tackle slippery surfaces. Dynamically, steering remains the weak point – it’s direct all right, but its lightness can border on disconcerting.
Should I buy one?
There’s little between the Panda 4x4 TwinAir and Swift 4x4 SZ3 in price (just under £14,000), performance, economy and spec. The Fiat looks more rugged outside and more interesting inside, and is more capacious with rear seats folded, but the Suzuki is more capable on-road, potentially more reliable and its rear pews split as standard. It’s a close contest, but factor in the VAT-equivalent discount offered on non-Sport Swifts until the end of September and it’s advantage Suzuki.
Suzuki Swift 1.2 SZ4 4x4 5dr
Price £15,739; 0-62mph 13.4; Top speed 103mph; Economy 51.3mpg (combined); CO2 126g/km; Kerb weight 1085kg; Engine 4 cylinders in line, 1242cc, petrol; Power 93bhp at 6000rpm; Torque 87lb ft at 4800rpm; Gearbox 5-speed manual