We all expect more from our cars now. We want our estate cars to be stylish, our sports cars to be usable on a daily basis, and our bargain models still to be loaded with kit.
But undoubtedly one of the markets where our expectations are highest is in the supermini class. Gone are the days where these models are merely for those with more limited budgets, as superminis are expected to offer the premium image, standard kit and practicality of far more expensive models.
However, there is still a need for superminis to shine around town, where their nimble nature works best. And that is absolutely where our long-term Suzuki Swift proves to be at its finest.
We’ve had KJ19 AEW on our fleet since August, but it’s only recently that I’ve started to drive the Swift. As I despise the idea of having to commute for hours each day, I live relatively local to the office – about 15 minutes each way across town. It’s all urban, all 30mph zones and involves some rather narrow streets, and it’s precisely where our Swift Attitude feels at home.
Its naturally-aspirated 89bhp 1.2-litre petrol engine can feel a bit out of its depth at higher speeds, but around town, it’s more than enough. It’s an engine that likes to rev and it’s paired to a great five-speed manual gearbox. Having spent a lot of time behind the wheel of diesel autos recently, I can’t tell you how pleasing it is to drive something small and fun like the Swift.
The handling is light, too, making driving around town and parking a doddle, while our Attitude model also features a reversing camera to aid further. It’s certainly not the clearest screen, but with our mid-spec test car costing £15,484 (£14,099 with no options) – both less than the price of an entry-level Fiesta – it’s hard to complain. Though it’s a bit bizarre that it lacks any rear parking sensors – something that can be a bit unnerving if you’re used to driving cars with them!
I’m also a big fan of the styling of our Attitude model, which features a sporty bodykit to give it more road presence – adopting design touches from the Swift Sport hot hatch, but without the running costs and insurance bills associated with that car’s performance. Think of it as the equivalent of Ford’s ST-Line.
When Suzuki launched this grade earlier this year, it expected the Attitude to be become the most popular grade and, judging by how many I’ve noticed so far in a short space of time, I’m sure that it’s proven to be the case.
While it’s undoubtedly a superb town car, I have also been surprisingly pleased with it at higher speeds. A recent motorway run from Portsmouth to Poole showed it’s happy to sit at around 2,500rpm at 70mph. Wind and road noise are rather intrusive, but again, this is a low-price car so it’s hard to grumble. The other thing I’ve been exceptionally impressed by is just how cheap it is to run – something I’ve heard colleagues talking about in the past. It tends to average around 55mpg, but can easily achieve more than that without even trying on more extended runs. My trip from Plymouth to Portsmouth and back (roughly 120 miles) cost a mere £11.
I’m now trying to nab the keys to the Swift at just about every opportunity, as it really is the ideal car for my short trip across town each day. Given the option between a luxury SUV or our Swift for my commute, I’d definitely be taking the Suzuki…