Suzuki Swift 1.2 Mini Hybrid Ultra – Review

Suzuki Swift 1.2 Mini Hybrid Ultra

By Liam Bird

When we were kids, in the school holidays we used to wash cars to help boost our pocket money. Mrs Pepe who lived near the castle always bought Renaults; at first Renault 5s, then, as soon as they came out, she bought Clios. Mrs Burns always bought Honda Civics, Mr Huffer, near the garage, always had Ford Fiestas, and Mr Reynolds, for reasons we still can’t fathom, always bought Austin Maestros. To be fair, he did have a couple of MG Maestros, even a Turbo or two, to begin with.

This was long before the days of PCP deals, balloon payments, and 0% finance. Nevertheless, as soon as any one of those aforementioned hatchbacks made it to MOT age, you could guarantee, it would be shopped-in at the local dealers and replaced by the latest model. You could also guarantee that everyone stayed faithful to their preferred brand.

Suzuki Swift 1.2 Mini Hybrid Ultra


All of course, the cars, their owners, and the majority of the local dealers, are long-since gone. But, the hatchback and the brand faithful live on. However, Honda Civics these days are the size of family saloons, and you can no longer buy a Ford Fiesta; they stopped making them last year. Thankfully you can’t buy a Maestro any more either. The Clio soldiers on. It’s a sign of the times: Your choice of supermini is significantly smaller than it once was.

Suzuki, maker of many a small car, and for many years, are well aware that if you’re the type of person who once bought Fiesta after Fiesta after Fiesta, and you’ve no intention of succumbing to an SUV, or, perish the thought, going electric, you’re probably now wondering what on earth you’re next supermini might be. Their solution to your current conundrum is their new all-new Swift.

Suzuki Swift 1.2 Mini Hybrid Ultra

“Evolution rather than revolution”

Believe it or not, since their introduction, Suzuki have made over 9 million Swifts. So it’s probably fair to say they know their customers – or at least, what their customers want. Suzuki are also the 8th largest automaker in the world; they like to think of themselves as the trusted car brand for those who wish to be different.

Not that there’s anything radically different about their all-new Swift that is: Think evolution rather than revolution. After all, one of the things supermini buyers love, I’m reliably informed, is familiarity.

Outside, the new Fourth Generation Swift has a new but instantly recognisable face. There’s a new piano-black grille, LED lamps front and rear that help make everything look lower and wider, a discreet spoiler that’s been integrated into the smoother rear hatch, some more prominent Suzuki S badges, 16 inch alloy wheels (they’re standard fit), and perhaps most significantly of all, blacked-out A and B pillars – they help create the appearance of the all-important “floating roof”. Park the new and more sharply tailored Swift next to the outgoing one and it instantly looks the more modern, more muscular, and more sophisticated of the two, yet overall the dimensions remain virtually unchanged.

Suzuki Swift 1.2 Mini Hybrid Ultra

“Mix of the familiar”

Inside, there’s similar mix of the familiar, and the new. Suzuki have concentrated on providing customers with more tech and more safety features but without scaring them off with over-complicated touchscreens, myriad sub-menus and the like. They’ve angled the controls more towards the driver, and mounted the infotainment and navigation screen higher up on the dash. Fear not, you still get proper switches and dials to control the heating, the speedometer and tacho are proper dials with proper needles – none of that unnecessary multi-configurable nonsense you set once and then try desperately to never change again – and, there’s a proper, lever-operated, handbrake too. Hallelujah!

OK, so there are a few hard plastics here and there, but now they’re two-tone and far more modern-looking, and all Swifts now get heated seats, ABS, EBD, ESP, ISOFIX, blind-spot monitor, Traffic sign recognition, and rear cross-traffic alert as standard, as well as more soundproofing and insulation. If only they’d have fitted a proper spare wheel instead of an emergency flat tyre repair kit…

Suzuki Swift 1.2 Mini Hybrid Ultra

“Just enough space”

Talking of what is or isn’t in the boot, at 265 litres (or 589 litres with the rear seats folded flat), there’s just enough space to swallow a couple of cabin cases or the weekly big shop.

Up front, there’s a new 1.2 litre, 3-cylinder engine that offers more power, more torque (triples, by design, are always punchier), and thus more efficiency. Suzuki’s goal was 60mpg, and sub 100g/km CO2: they’ve achieved both, no doubt with a little help from the Swift’s dainty 940kg kerb weight.

When coupled to Suzuki’s smooth-shifting 5-speed manual gearbox, the little 3-pot’s performance is probably best described as modest: 0-62mph takes 12.4 seconds. That said, the Swift feels, err… swifter than its figures suggest, the mild hybrid assistance helping in particular during acceleration up through the gears. A CVT transmission is available, but unless you really need an automatic, I wouldn’t bother. An all-wheel drive Allgrip variant is an option too – and if my previous experience of four-wheel drive Suzukis is anything to go by, it may well prove more useful than you first thought.

Suzuki Swift 1.2 Mini Hybrid Ultra

“Every bit as good”

Out on the road the Swift feels every bit as good as a modern supermini should. The steering is light and direct, and a slightly taut yet never uncompromising suspension set-up results in a pleasingly nimble car that’s enjoyable to punt along. And try as you might, you’ll never get less than 50 mpg. I wonder if they’ll make another Sport version… now that would be fun, or maybe a Swift Sport Allgrip…

Forty years after we first saw one, like all of us, the Suzuki Swift feels more grown-up. It’s matured, and rather nicely, too.

Suzuki Swift 1.2 Mild Hybrid Ultra
Engine: 1,197 cc (Z12E) 3-Cyl 12v petrol hybrid
Power:  82 bhp @ 5,700rpm
Torque: 83 lbft @ 4,500rpm
Transmission:  5-Speed, manual, front-wheel drive
Performance: 0-62mph 12.4 sec
Max Speed: 103 mph
MPG: 64.2 Combined (WLTP)
CO2: 99 g/km (WLTP)
Price: from £19,799 (OTR. inc. options)


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