It speaks to our regard for the previous Swift that its replacement – an ostensibly respectable addition to the supermini ranks – at times seems a faintly less compelling prospect.

For once, this has little to do with fundamental fitness for purpose and a good deal more to do with the areas where the old Swift righteously delivered more than could reasonably be expected for the price.

Improved in some important aspects but no longer beguiling to drive

Certainly in styling, handling and general refinement, the model seems to have made too little objective progress.

Conversely, in other avenues – not least those related to practicality, performance and efficiency – it has crept tellingly ahead.

Bigger, lighter, quicker: these are not virtues easily won. On balance, then, the result is much as before.

On its obvious merits, the Swift offers impressive value for money, to the point where it embarrasses some of the big-name competition.

But it has bettered none of them in old-fashioned, good-to-drive desirability – and that registers as something of an anticlimax. Unfortunately that means the new Swift doesn’t trouble our top five, with the Nissan Micra, Volkswagen Polo, Mazda 2, Mini One and class leader Ford Fiesta all proving to be more compelling options.


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