The Swift is just a little bit guilty of pouring cold water on moderately high expectations where this section is concerned.
As a volume-selling supermini – and we must remember that although the outgoing version always looked after the interests of keener drivers better than it had any right to at the price, a volume-selling supermini is what the Swift is – it’s a dynamically competent and reasonably well-rounded effort.
But the naturally athletic, effortlessly agile and involving feel of the previous car is notable by its absence.
Slightly overly light, elastic-feeling steering is your first indication that all might not be well with the Swift’s driving experience – which, after the limp gearshift we’ve already mentioned, brings the underwhelming but more closely related Baleno to mind much more readily than the previous Swift.
Around town, the obliging lightness of the Swift’s wheel makes junctions and car parks easy to negotiate, but at B-road and motorway pace, the rack is notably short of on-centre feel and relative high-speed stability, and it has a tendency to wander slightly if you’re not always concentrating on your lane position.
At a basic level, the Swift can certainly cope with being driven keenly. Its grip level is fairly strong, its directional response smart, its handling balance respectable and its body control decent.
But on those four respects, the new Swift is a lot closer to the dynamic standards of the average supermini than the previous one was.
At times, the car strays towards a feeling of stodginess in its cornering manners and begins to heel over just a little bit too hard on its outside wheels to convince you that it’s truly game for a giggle.
Its ride, meanwhile, is more busy, hollow and resonant than that of its more mature-feeling European-built rivals, and it doesn’t handle sharper ridges and bumps as well.
Those are the kinds of compromises you might willingly accept for a keen, precise and engaging drive, of course – but when they come without the same pay-off in a car that’s plainly trying but struggling to seem like a more rounded prospect than it used to be, they’re much more conspicuous.
The Swift does a willing enough job of replicating the zesty character of its predecessor, but it quickly begins to fray when you drive it hard.