Practical experience Suzuki Swift (2017-2024)

‘For a car of only 3.84 m, the Swift is very spacious inside’

Suzuki Swift 1.2 Smart Hybrid

Suzuki proves with the Swift that the Japanese can be trendsetters. The first generation of this compact city car was released in 1983, well before the 1989-born pop star of the same name would conquer the world. There is also a difference. While Taylor’s success seems to continue to grow, interest in the Suzuki model is gradually decreasing. Whether the latest iteration can turn that tide remains to be seen. In this article we discover some swifties from the model generation that has just waved goodbye.

All things considered, Suzuki is often progressive. A diesel engine? No longer available in a Swift since 2016 and the generation we discuss in this article did not get it at all. Suzuki did supply a 1.2-liter four-cylinder with Smart Hybrid technology and we were introduced to the turbocharged BoosterJet engines. Turbo fans could go for a 112 hp 1.0 three-cylinder or the Swift Sport with 1.4 BoosterJet. With these engines, the ‘old’ Swift is already 2-0 ahead of its successor, which is only available as a three-cylinder 1.2 Smart Hybrid.

Swift, a little practical?

Nice, those turbo engines and pop star references, but for most users the Swift simply has to perform on a daily basis. What does he have to offer in that area? “For a car of only 3.84 m, the Swift is very spacious inside,” says the owner of a Swift 1.2 Select from 2020. “The seats recline far enough and are comfortable. Adults can sit comfortably in the back seat and there is even more legroom than in the Fiat Punto, which was more than 20 cm longer.” The trunk also appears to be adequate. “The trunk is somewhat smaller than that of the Punto, but much larger than the previous version of the Swift. You can easily store your weekly groceries in it.” The driver of a 2017 copy shares these findings. “The Swift has become lower and shorter than the previous model. However, the interior space has increased, giving the Swift more space in the back. With a length of 1.85 meters, it is nice to sit on the back seat. The large amount of legroom for the rear passengers is particularly striking.”

The driver of a Swift 1.0 BoosterJet Style expresses some criticism of the seating position, but starts on a positive note. “The chairs are comfortable,” is a compliment that is often read. “I would have liked the handlebars to be a little further towards me, the adjustment is not very wide. I have a center armrest and it could have been moved a few centimeters further forward. It is possible, but a little further would have been more comfortable.”

On the road with the Swift

So far, so good. There is more disagreement about the handling of the regular versions. The theme of wind sensitivity in particular is regularly discussed. “Today I had my first experience with (fairly) strong wind, wind force 6 on the Moerdijk Bridge,” writes a 1.2 Smart Hybrid driver who, after reading several reviews, took the test. “Indeed, you can feel the Swift weighing less than 900 kilos moving back and forth, but it is still acceptable.”

Suzuki Ford Fiesta Swift hot hatch

Another 1.2 driver is less positive in another area. “The suspension of the wheels is such that bumps are transmitted very immediately,” he says. “Sometimes I almost feel as if the wheels are not fully secured or that the shock absorbers are chattering. I take thresholds very carefully.” The owner of a 1.0 BoosterJet combines both findings. “Sensitive to side winds when there is a strong wind. The suspension is good, as long as there is no one in the back, let alone bicycles on the back. Then the suspension is simply gone and it hangs on the rubbers.”

Another 1.0 BoosterJetter is quite enthusiastic. “The engine and handling are well matched,” he writes. “The car sits on the road like a go-kart. Add to that the low car weight (19 euros per month in road tax) and the well-functioning gearbox and then you have a car that you will enjoy driving. You don’t need a 140 hp Swift Sport for that.”

Suzuki Swift Sport

Then the Swift Sport

A statement that makes us switch to drivers of this sporty model, which seems to live up to its name. “Fun fun fun!” writes a happy rider. “I think that is the correct description for this car. The Suzuki Swift Sport is a car that wants to move forward smoothly and can achieve a high cornering speed. In my experience, the car always challenges you to drive smoothly.” Is he also smooth? “Because the car has (only) 140 hp, it feels like it’s all going very fast, but fortunately, looking at the odometer, it’s not all that bad. However, this version weighs less than 950 kg, which makes it feel smooth and sleek.” Tight, so hard? “The suspension is tight, but not too tight. Thresholds can be easily negotiated without bouncing all over the car.”

Suzuki Swift Sport

Another driver initially notices this, until feedback is heard from the backseat. “We have discovered a downside: the rear passengers are also cornered sportily around the bend and the rear damping is also very hard. Always when getting in, ‘please take it easy over the thresholds’. Rightly so, the suspension is as it should be, hard.” The solution is as simple as it is effective. “For longer journeys we take the other car, the Swift Sport is a bit noisy on the highway.”

A third Swift Sport driver is also contributing. “The chassis is really perfect for me! Sporty, but not rock hard and it filters out bad roads well. A bit of body roll every now and then, but you can solve that by letting off the gas and because of the low weight (Fiesta ST, Mini, Polo GTI are on average 150-200 kg heavier!) you go around the bend like a rally car, wonderful.”

Suzuki Swift 1.2 Smart Hybrid

This is how the engines perform

As mentioned, the Swift is supplied with various petrol engines. We start with the basic version, the 1.2 without hybrid technology. “The Swift moves smoothly in traffic,” writes a driver who opted for this engine in combination with a CVT automatic transmission. “I am a calm driver, and the 90 hp and pulling power are more than sufficient.” The only disadvantage: “The CVT revs a lot when accelerating quickly.” Opposite this reaction is a downright disappointed Swift 1.2 Select driver. “The first trip went to the Eifel and I immediately regretted the purchase. What a noise this 1200 engine makes at speeds of 130+ km/h.”

The 1.0 BoosterJet only receives positive reviews. “The three-cylinder engine sounds pleasant when accelerating and is quite quiet at highway speed,” writes a satisfied owner. “The small hybrid system does not seem to add much, but the starter-generator works well for the start-stop system.” Finally, the Swift Sport owner said: “The BoosterJet engine is a gem! It picks up nicely and quickly and is very easy to drive.”

Suzuki Swift Hybrid Allgrip

Maintenance, malfunctions and irritations

Users do not report any major problems with their Swifts, but a few drivers do have ‘some issues’. “One of the exterior mirrors would not fold properly recently,” reports the driver of a 2018 Swift Sport. “Fortunately, it was replaced under warranty by Suzuki. Shortly afterwards the same with the other mirror, sent to Japan and a new one fitted. The two new mirrors are doing their job excellently so far.” The owner of a used 1.0 BoosterJet reports that the adaptive cruise control occasionally refuses service. In addition, he is faced with a malfunction in the tire pressure monitoring system, even though all tires had the correct pressure. “A reset by the dealer was then necessary,” he writes, but that did not solve the problem. “This complaint has returned a week ago and I have to take it back to Freeroad.” Apart from that, the driver is pleased with the quality of his Swift. “Only two black screens from the infotainment. Turning the car off completely and locking it solved the problem. Furthermore, I think the car still drives like new,” is the conclusion after five years of ownership.

The Swift we just said goodbye to is really satisfying its drivers. It appears to be practical enough for most users and the turbo engines are particularly popular. This does not necessarily apply to the naturally aspirated 1.2, which turns out to be noisy, especially at higher speeds. The chassis could also use further refinement, based on user experiences. In terms of reliability, the Swift scores well: drivers report no structural problems and at most a few irritations. Finally, it is striking that Swift Sport drivers in particular are very positive. It is therefore hoped that Suzuki will bring this model back at a later stage.

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