Mark Higgins’ first drive 2014 Suzuki Swift GL review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety and verdict.

In a nutshell The Suzuki Swift’s cute looks, brand reputation, solid build quality and five-star safety rating means it ticks the right boxes.

Practical Motoring Says It might be getting on a bit but the Suzuki Swift is still a stand-out in the light car segment. It’s a reliable and well built little thing that gets plenty of kit for the money, although against newer rivals it is starting to feel a little old. Just a little, mind.

ALTHOUGH this fourth-generation Suzuki Swift is now four years old, it’s still a big seller in the ultra crowded light car segment. Last year it finished fourth on the sales ladder and in 2014, it maintains that position despite newer offerings from VW, Mazda and Honda to name a few.

Armed with an entry model Swift GL, with optional auto and a week behind the wheel, we set out to discover why the Swift continues to appeal. With the introduction of this current-generation model in 2011 came a shift in production from Japan to Thailand that also brought lower prices yet extra gear.

2014 Suzuki Swift review

Extensive use of lighter, high-strength steel helps make this Swift 25kg lighter than its predecessor, as well as stronger for safety and more rigid for better handling. It’s also bigger than its predecessor, and is 90mm longer, 50mm wider, which helps improve interior space, and 10mm taller. Although it’s celebrating its third year, the Swift doesn’t look outdated at all and this version has kept its familiar cute looks with its big eye head- and tail-lights as the standout styling feature. There’s a few new styling curves especially around the back, turn indicators in the body colored door mirrors along with body colored door handles and new look hubcaps on the 15-inch steel wheels but that’s about it. As the saying goes, if it ain’t broke…

The black interior features silver highlights throughout and give it a nice lift, as do the textured durable plastics. It has a leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel that’s adjustable for rake only, yet it’s still easy to find your right driving position. The comfy and supportive front and rear cloth seats (height adjustable for the driver) do a good job of keeping you in check and there’s a surprising amount of head, shoulder and legroom for all. The rear seat splits in a 60/40 configuration and with the rear seats up, there’s 210 litres of boot space that grows to 533 litres with them down.

2014 Suzuki Swift review

Interestingly the information screen within the instrument binnacle displays fuel consumption as kilometres per litre, which makes sense and follows on from miles per gallon used in the early days of motoring. The GL Swift is well equipped with cupholders and a storage bin in the console, bottle holders in the door pockets, map lights, power mirrors and windows, vanity mirrors and seat pockets. The air conditioning works a treat and the six-speaker audio system with built in Bluetooth, delivers a surprisingly solid sound. Setting up audio streaming and your mobile phone is a bit fiddly though.

The Thai-built Swift gets a 1.4-litre four-cylinder with 70kW (at 6000rpm) and 130Nm of torque (at 4000rpm) which is mated to a five-speed manual as standard or, as in our case, a cost-optional four-speed auto with hill-hold function, overdrive and lock up slip control, that adds $2000 to the price.

Given the engine size and output, acceleration from standstill is acceptable and once underway, its mid-range power and torque keep the Swift happily bobbing along in traffic or on the open road. We can’t help but think a six-speed auto, found in many of its rivals, would deliver more seamless performance by reducing the gaps between gears. A 13% fuel economy improvement sees the Swift delivering 5.5L/100km, which we also achieved with mainly urban motoring.

2014 Suzuki Swift review

The Swift is pleasantly quiet on the road with the only coarsest of surfaces making an interruption and even the engine note is nicely muffled from inside the cabin. There’s also very little wind noise around the exterior mirrors.

It’s a lively chassis that has won Suzuki two World Junior Rally championships and delivers a good dose of driver enjoyment and occupant comfort. The McPherson strut front and torsion beam rear suspension is a little soft when navigating potholes or speed humps and because of the softish setup, there’s a bit of body roll. But the Swift is nicely balanced and while its power output isn’t class leading, it is a lot of fun to drive. The variable ratio electric power steering is smooth, light and well weighted and the brakes have a progressive and solid feel.

For an entry model, the Swift GL is well kitted out and includes, cruise control, remote keyless entry, electric windows and mirrors, air conditioning, steering wheel audio controls, USB iPod connectivity, Bluetooth® connectivity, leather steering wheel and indicators in the side mirrors.

All Swifts have a five-star ANCAP safety rating and the GL has front side, curtain and driver’s knee airbags, Electronic Stability Control, ABS brakes with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and Brake Assist.

2014 Suzuki Swift GL (Auto)

Price $17,290 drive away (as tested)

Warranty Three years, 100,000 kilometres

Safety five-star ANCAP

Engine 1.4 litre four cylinder petrol (91RON)

Power/Torque 70kW/130Nm

Transmission Four-speed automatic (optional)

Body 3850mm (L); 1695mm (W); 1510mm (H)

Weight 1035kgs

Thirst 5.5L/100km (combined)


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