By Mike Torpey on 2017-05-12 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Swift targets a top
SUZUKI is hoping its new Swift supermini will prove a chartbuster - and storm into the top ten list of the best selling small cars in Britain.
In order to nudge its way past some serious rivals this third generation of the popular model will need to shift 20,000 vehicles a year, and that's 5,000 more than previously achieved.
But such is the Japanese company's confidence that Suzuki feels not only will the target be hit but so too will the bullseye.
Nor is that confidence misplaced because the new Swift really is the coolest looking small car on the road, the MINI apart.
It's that standout design along with an engaging drive that will surely gain plenty of conquest sales for the brand as well as appeal to existing Swift fans.
As compact cars become increasingly larger the Swift is actually shorter than the outgoing version, yet the amount of passenger space is improved thanks to a longer wheelbase.
Headroom is better due to a lower seating position, there's fractionally more width and the effect of a low centre of gravity comes via blacked-out pillars that give the impression of a floating roof.
No longer available as a three-door, the latest model also gets concealed pillar-mounted rear door handles to add some extra style, along with LED lights.
Suzuki's research into the last Swift revealed that the biggest reason for potential buyers deciding to walk away from a showroom was because the car's boot was too small.
This has been addressed with a 20 per cent hike in luggage capacity, up by 54 litres on the old car
When it hits the streets on June 1 the Swift will also come with the promise of better fuel economy, extra power, a lighter construction, CO2 emissions from 97 to 114g/km, plus prices from £10,999.
Two petrol engines - a three-cylinder 1.0-litre Boosterjet turbocharged unit and a 90PS 1.2-litre four-cylinder - comprise the range while the trim levels will follow a tried and trusted Suzuki pattern of SZ3, SZ-T and SZ5 grades.
There's also ALLGRIP Auto four-wheel drive available as an option on top spec versions with the 1.2-litre engine.
The test route over challenging roads through the Peak District demonstrated the agile, sporty and efficient qualities of the new Swift.
While the Boosterjet engine has marginally more punch and returned an average 46.0 miles per gallon compared to the official 65.7mpg, the 1.2 unit performed perfectly well and was only marginally less frugal at 43.8mpg.
In the end it will come down to taste and specification, though Suzuki feels certain that mid-range SZ-T with Boosterjet and the company's mild hybrid system will prove the most popular.
The jump from entry grade SZ3, which is only available with the 1.2-litre engine, up to SZ-T is £2,000.
But there's plenty of scope for a Swift owner to personalise their car, with every option apart from paint choice being fitted at the showroom.
So if you fancy an SZ3 - and there's plenty of kit in there that you wouldn't normally get at base level - you could specify a set of alloys for around £500, a few stripes and colourful inserts for a couple of hundred more and drive off in a car that looks the part and represents terrific value for money.
That said, opting for SZ5 opens the door to a wealth of extra tech like Suzuki's first use of an advanced forward detection system including autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning and high beam assist.
You also get adaptive cruise control, sat-nav, keyless start, 16-inch polished alloys and rear electric windows.
And the audio set-up for both SZ-T and SZ5 has a seven-inch touch panel display for intuitive operation.
Prices are from £10,999 for the Swift 1.2-litre SZ3 model with five-speed manual transmission rising to £15,849 for the 1.0 Boosterjet SZ5 automatic.
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