New Swift puts on

the pressure

Suzuki Swift, 2017, front, action
Suzuki Swift, 2017, side, action
Suzuki Swift, 2017, rear, action
Suzuki Swift, 2017, interior
Suzuki Swift, 2017, boot
Suzuki Swift, static side

COMPETITION in the ever popular supermini sector is about to hot up - with the launch of a cracking new car from Suzuki next month.

The Swift has always been a car able to punch above its weight but the latest model has been elevated to a whole new plateau in terms of new engines and new features.

And with a starting price for the range of £10,999 it's a five-door quality car for sensible money.

But best of all the Swift remains a fun car to drive, guaranteed to take the boredom out of your daily commute to work or tedious twice a day school run.

The new model is shorter, lower and wider than its predecessor and has a more striking front end with dramatic changes to the grille and headlights.

Concealed handles in the rear doors give it a sleek coupe-like appearance and changes to the car's dimensions mean more space for passengers as well as more luggage space.

The small boot has often been a niggle among Swift owners so the new generation comes with a 25 per cent increase in the luggage area, taking it to 265 litres with the split rear seat backs in the raised position.

A reduction in weight of around 10 per cent not only means the new car is livelier but also more frugal, with the promise of an average of 65.7 miles per gallon for the five-speed manual top-of-the-range SZ5 model with the expected best seller 1.0-litre, three-cylinder Boosterjet engine (£14,499).

And if you think that a car with an engine of that size might be underpowered think again.

This 109bhp turbocharged mild hybrid engine has performance equivalent to that of many 1.7-litre engines and is impressively sharp and responsive. The hybrid aspect also means it's a particularly clean engine with emissions of just 97g/km.

And while I really liked the performance and handling of the manual version the biggest surprise for me came when I got behind the wheel of the six-speed automatic version in SZ5 spec (£15,849).

Often small engined auto models tend to lack smoothness as they go through the box but the Swift auto has seamless gear changes and instant response to any kickdown on the accelerator.

Paddles behind the steering wheel allow you drive it manually for more involved motoring and add to the car‘s appeal.

And as the Boosterjet engine in the auto model doesn't have the mild hybrid aspect it's slightly quicker with a 0-62 mph time of 10 seconds compared with the manual's 10.6 seconds although its top speed of 118 is two miles per hour slower.

The new Swift is also available in a four-wheel-drive ALLGRIP model powered by a 1.2-litre engine carried over from the previous generation model.

Even the entry level models feature air conditioning and electric front windows while the SZ5 models include satellite navigation, automatic air conditioning, adaptive cruise control, keyless entry/start, a reversing camera and electric windows all round.

Among the many safety features on the car is an advanced forward detection system which uses both a camera and a laser sensor to monitor the road ahead and automatically apply the brakes if a collision is imminent and the driver is not reacting.

The inside of the cabin is a class act with a 7.5-inch touch screen and smart, easy-to-read instruments. And because of the Swift's sporting nature you get rally-style seats with deep bolsters which hold you securely in place on the tightest of bends.

The new Swift is definitely a car to try and certainly one which will - quite rightly - make rival manufacturers nervous in the months to come.

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