Suzuki's fine 4x4

supermini

Suzuki Swift Allgrip, front, static
Suzuki Swift Allgrip, rear, static
Suzuki Swift Allgrip, 2019, front
Suzuki Swift Allgrip, 2019, rear
Suzuki Swift Allgrip, 2019, interior
Suzuki Swift Allgrip, 2019, boot

WHEN I was a boy, one of our neighbours owned a wonderful pre-war Lagonda open tourer.

And before my own family even owned a car, we would go out for picnics or for a paddle in nearby lakes in that stunningly beautiful machine.

It was the M45 model from about 1935 and I adored it.

Ever since, it has been my dream to own or even just drive one of these gorgeous cars, so imagine my envy when I went to a wedding recently and the bride arrived in one.

Despite pouring rain, the owner - a friend of the family - had taken it out for the very first time after a 12 year rebuild so that she could travel to the registry office in style. What a marvellous gesture.

Sadly I didn't get to drive or ride in it but I may well get to in the not too distant future. Watch this space.

My wife and I had travelled to the nuptials - a round trip of 300 miles - in Suzuki's little Swift 4x4, the Allgrip, which is one of only three superminis on the market in the UK with all wheel drive.

Better still, it comes with a mild hybrid setup - a battery and electric motor system that gives extra power when needed to improve acceleration, and charges the battery during braking.

This most recent model of the excellent Swift is only available with five doors, making it more small family practical for many people, and they all drive beautifully.

It comes with an easy, light clutch, a sweet slick gearchange for the five speed ‘box and very good brakes - as I found out when a tractor pulled out from a field without looking.

Performance feels good both from a standing start and through the gears, although the figures don't seem to bear this out.

And the engine is smooth and quiet unless pushed up the rev range, when it actually sounds lovely.

The roadholding is excellent and very safe, perhaps helped by the 4WD system, although this doesn't normally come into play until the front wheels begin to lose traction.

So the car is front wheel drive most of the time out on the road, helping towards very good economy and low emissions.

Even when pushed unmercifully through a series of bends the handling is safe and sure, aided by direct and quick steering with plenty of feel.

Really the only drawback with this car - and its one which does not affect the other models in the range - is a fairly lumpy ride on poor surfaces, with a lot of bump-thump over the worst.

But for anyone who wants a small car that will be able to get anywhere in the worst of winter - as long as abandoned 2WD cars don't get in the way - this is perfect, and you may be happy to put up with the level of comfort.

Build quality throughout is excellent and inside, the front seats are well-shaped and supportive, and there is good rear legroom for two more adults to ride in comfort.

It has a multi-function steering wheel, keyless entry and starting, a height adjustable seat and height and reach adjustable steering, start/stop, stability control, climate, parking sensors, sat nav and a DAB stereo.

Safety includes lane departure warning, collision imminent warning and a tirednesswarning that recognises if the car begins to weave.

It also has aux-in and USB sockets, plus automatic smartphone connection and voice activation.

£17,350

88bhp, 1242cc, 4 cylinder petrol/electric, four wheel drive, 5 speed manual gearbox

105mph

12.5 seconds

49.7

23

101g/km

24%

3 yrs60,000 miles

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