The first Suzuki Swift model which was with us in the UK from 1998-2003 pulled up few trees as far as sales figures were concerned. There was nothing particularly bad about the car and it was well built and comparatively cheap but it lacked personality and failed to excel in any area. Other cars in the sector which were available for the same price were faster, more economical, came with a more prestige badge or were just more fun. The supermini class is ultra-competitive and lucrative too, so Suzuki were never going to take this reverse lying down.
A Swift reappraisal
Suzuki went back to the drawing board and they took a unique approach to getting it right this time. They developed a European centre where the strengths and weaknesses of rival supermini cars could be assessed and analysed. The Japanese company spent six months looking at what made European small cars more attractive to European drivers and the result was the new Swift. The car was first shown at the 2004 Paris motor show and was an immediate hit. The European makeover of the car had clearly been a success and the redesigned handling, packaging and modelling had industry commentators excited about a Suzuki small car for the first time in a long time.
The Swift once over
Looking at the Suzuki Swift in North London dealerships shortly after its arrival in March 2005, the first thing you noticed was the car’s enhanced good looks. Rather than the frankly ‘blobby’ design of many small cars of the time, the Swift is angular and bold looking. The front has a wide air dam and large headlamps, giving the car an attractive face. The big wheels are stuck right into each corner, making the car seem confident and planted on the road. At the rear meanwhile, powerful looking haunches and an integrated spoiler on the roof line give the car a distinctive and purposeful look.
Inside, the cabin is much upgraded from the original offering. The materials used feel higher quality and the layout is modern and engaging. A three spoke steering wheel is attractively sporty and illuminated dial surrounds add to that flighty feel. Equipment level is good too, with a centrally mounted information display giving you information on fuel consumption and the like, while a well-integrated stereo can be operated from the steering wheel. The interior of the Swift is practical too. This is one of the widest cars in its class and the minimised engines and long wheel base mean that there is plenty of space inside.
On the road
The Suzuki Swift does not disappoint when you take it out for a spin. It is eager in the corners, with little sign of body roll and feels pleasingly planted on the road. The entry level 1.3 litre petrol engine was the best seller and it delivers more than enough power for the little Swift. If you are looking for more performance and can find one, a Swift Sport is faster than a Mini Cooper.
Jim Locke is a motor mechanic with over 20 years in the industry. He writes and blogs widely on motoring topics and runs his Suzuki Swift in North London.happy wheels
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