Suzuki happy to

gamble on new Swift

Suzuki Swift, 2017, side, static
Suzuki Swift, 2017, head on, action
Suzuki Swift, 2017, front, action
Suzuki Swift, 2017, side, action
Suzuki Swift, 2017, rear, action
Suzuki Swift, 2017, safety systems graphic
Suzuki Swift, 2017, display screen
Suzuki Swift, 2017, boot
Suzuki Swift, 2017, door trim

THE Casino in Monte Carlo is famous the world over and although Suzuki chose Monaco for the launch of the new Swift it wasn't much of a gamble.

For the Japanese firm has produced a smart new design that moves things on from its sharp predecessor while still being easy on the eye.

The Swift is the company's biggest seller, racking up over 5.4 million sales globally since 2005 with 127,000 finding homes in the UK.

This new model, which will go on sale in June will be built at the firm's Sagara plant in Japan as production is being moved from Hungary to enable more Vitara models to be produced there.

Suzuki is in very good health at the moment selling 2.8 million vehicles last year and aiming for 3.4 million by 2019 thanks to its successful range of interesting small cars and its popular crossovers and SUVs.

The company's UK arm hopes the new Swift will be good enough to overtake the likes of the SEAT Ibiza, Skoda Fabia, Kia Rio and Hyundai i20 - the target being 20,000 units a year.

The latest Swift retains the DNA of the previous model but has shed over 10 per cent of its weight and it is also more powerful and fuel efficient.

It is marginally shorter than the outgoing model but importantly the wheelbase is 20mm longer - increasing the cabin space and providing a larger 264 litre boot - a jump of 54 litres.

Two petrol engines are available. The entry-level unit is the 1.2 Dualjet four-cylinder which produces 89bhp and is capable of 62mph in 11.9 seconds, while returning an official combined fuel economy figure of 65.7mpg with emissions of 98g/km.

The other power plant is Suzuki's splendid 1.0-litre three-cylinder Boosterjet turbo which produces 110bhp and cuts the sprint speed to 62mph to 10.6 seconds. Fuel economy on this spritely model drops to 61.4mpg with emissions of 104g/km.

You can also opt for Suzuki's SHVS mild-hybrid system on both engines. A lithium-ion battery under the front passenger seat gathers power from regenerative braking and uses it to assist the engine when moving off and accelerating, helping to save fuel and cut emissions.

All the cars at the launch were left hand drive models and were fitted with the Boosterjet engine combined with SHVS hubrid system which improves fuel economy to a claimed 65.7mpg and takes the CO2 figure down to 97g/km.

Linked with a slick five-speed manual gearbox it was a delight to drive on French mountain routes and on motorways.

The 1.0-litre Boosterjet hybrid has bags of character and is very smooth. The turbo means that you don't have to work it too hard and once you get it up to speed there is very little engine noise.

The new chassis means the Swift is even more agile and nimble and the suspension deals well with all kinds of surfaces. The steering is sharp and accurate as well as being nicely weighted.

Inside there is room for four adults to travel in comfort with more legroom in the rear than before. The instruments and controls are all easy to read and use but there is still a lot of black plastic about.

Three trim levels will be available on UK cars with a choice of 10 colours. Even the entry-level SZ3 model has six airbags, air conditioning, DAB radio, privacy glass, daytime running lights and Bluetooth as standard.

The SZ-T adds a smartphone link display, a rear view camera, front fog lamps and 16-inch alloy wheels.

The top spec SZ5 adds automatic air conditioning, navigation, LED headlamps, polished alloys, rear electric windows, folding electric wing mirrors, dual sensor brake support and adaptive cruise control.

There's also more safety equipment including a forward-facing camera and laser sensors that produce lane departure warnings along with autonomous emergency braking and high-beam assist.

The new Swift feels really well put together and built to last and the new infotainment system is an added bonus but it would have been nice to find more soft-materials in the cabin.

Nevertheless it is a cracking supermini with real style which should easily achieve its sales targets.

The three-door model is dropped from the range so the starting price will be higher and will not be announced until the middle of May. The new model is due for release in June.

As a guide you can expect to pay about 10 per cent more over current models which means the line up will start from around £10,500.

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