THE supermini market accounts for the largest number of UK car sales so understandably the competition is fierce.
Suzuki has just launched its latest third generation Swift into the segment and it's certain to make rival manufacturers sit up and take note.
The Swift is already Suzuki's best-selling vehicle in the UK and the new more aggressively styled car is guaranteed to grab attention amongst buyers.
It's competitively priced from Â£10,999, available with two petrol engines - a 1.2 Dualjet or a fiery three-cylinder 1.0-litre Boosterjet along with the option of hybrid technology, manual or CVT gearboxes and even an ALLGRIP 4WD system.
Suzuki designers have been incredibly clever in that the five-door car is actually smaller than the outgoing model, yet there is more interior space and, more importantly, a bigger boot capacity which has been increased by 54 litres to a capacity of 265 litres. This was the main area of concern amongst existing customers.
The car is wider and lower so looks more dynamic in its appearance. In addition, new Swift is 120kg lighter, 20 per cent more powerful, 15 per cent faster sprinting to 62mph and it has 10 per cent lower carbon emissions.
Fresh design features include strong muscular shoulders, blacked out pillars that create a floating roof effect, integrated rear door handles that help convey a more athletic stance, LED headlights and smart rear lights set in cube shapes.
The interior is more upmarket with a new connectivity system that features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto along with MirrorLink.
The centre console is turned five degrees towards the driver and the instrumentation can be personalised to display a range of data from driving economy to power distribution and energy saving stats.
Every model is fitted with Bluetooth connectivity and a DAB radio as standard.
There are three trim levels called SZ3, SZ-T (which is expected to account for 40 to 50 per cent of sales) and top grade SZ5.
The Swift also boasts a raft of safety measures. It is built on a new lightweight but ultra strong platform that has helped the car shed weight without compromising on safety.
As you move up through the range additional kit is introduced such as automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beam and an advanced forward detection system that uses laser and camera based technology.
We had the opportunity to try the new Swift on some winding country roads in the heart of the Peak District and it didn't disappoint.
The cars we sampled were the 1.0-litre models mated to both a five-speed manual and an automatic gearbox. They were both in range-topping SZ5 trim levels and both cars were an absolute dream to drive.
The auto version was priced at £16,334 and could reach from 0-62mph in 10.0 seconds, topped out at 118mph and could deliver combined fuel economy of 56.5mpg with carbon emissions of 114g/km.
The manual version was slightly cheaper at £14,984, reached 62mph in 10.6 seconds, maxed out at 121mph and could achieve 65.7mpg with CO2 emissions of 97g/km.
Long gone are the days when three-pot engines screamed in pain when pushed hard, but the other pleasing factor is how well the CVT gearbox performed. When driven with a heavy right boot, it whizzed along at quite a click and skipped up steep, twisting inclines with ease.
The road-holding was ultra-assured and the steering proved light and precise. A little road surface and engine noise did filter through to the cabin, but it was only really noticeable when the sound system was turned off.
The all-round visibility is excellent and the car can easily accommodate four six footers with ample leg, head and shoulder space in the back.
We also tred the 1.2-litre Swift with four cylinders in SZ5grade priced at £16,149.
This model featured Suzuki's smart hybrid system along with the all-wheel drive capabilities. It could reach 62mph from a standing start in 12.6 seconds, topped out at 105mph and could deliver combined fuel efficiency of 62.8mpg with emissions of 101g/km.
Once again, the Swift was a great little performer, although the car was not so sharp or responsive as the 1.0-litre models.
The acceleration was good through the five-speed manual gearbox, but we did have to change down quite a lot to keep up momentum through steeper hills.
The new Swift will be in showrooms from June 1 and Suzuki has clear targets in mind.
Competing directly against the likes of the SEAT Ibiza and Skoda Fabia, the Japanese company is hoping to sell 20,000 Swift models in its first year - and after getting to grips with the new Swift those figures are certainly achievable.