THE ever-popular supermini sector has become even more competitive following the launch of an appealing new car from Suzuki.

The Swift was already an impressive little machine, but the latest model has gone up a gear thanks to new engines and new features.

What’s more, it’s hard to argue with the price, with the range starting at a shade under £11,000.

One of the main changes for 2017 is the fact the Swift is now shorter, lower and wider than its predecessor.

It also boasts a more striking front end than before, with eye-catching changes to both the grille and headlights.

Under the bonnet, my test car came equipped with a Boosterjet petrol engine, which may only have 998cc and three cylinders but produces 110bhp with 170Nm of torque.

On the face of it, that power output might not set the pulse racing, but you have to factor in the car’s weight or, more to the point, lack of it.

Indeed, the Suzuki engineers have worked wonders in managing to keep the Swift’s weight to only 890kg, which is 120kg lighter than the outgoing car.

With a chassis that’s light yet rigid, the power to weight ratio is in the Swift’s favour.

It all adds up to a 0-62mph time of 10.6 seconds, with a top speed of 121mph.

This six-speed automatic provides a smooth ride through the gear ratio transitions, also offering an instant response to accelerator inputs.

Around town, it glides around with ease, but when you rev it hard, it pulls impressively.

The Swift also cruises happily on the motorway, although there is a hint of wind noise to reduce the overall feel of relaxation.

Another benefit of the small engine and lightweight body is the excellent fuel economy.

Unlike many other fun-to-drive car’s, the Swift doesn’t even seem to punish you at the pump when you drive it with urgency, meaning it’s fairly fast but frugal.

The steering is noteworthy for its quick rack and lightness, while the ride quality is very reasonable, with only the deepest potholes and ruts causing a problem.

The new Swift is available in five-door form only.

In terms of space, the car is roomier than before, with better legroom being one major benefit. Thanks to lower-mounted seats, there also seems to be more headroom in both the front and back.

A previous gripe with the Swift - its small boot - has been largely overcome.

Although the boot on the new model may not be a class leader in terms of space, its capacity is now a respectable 264 litres, which is 54 litres more than before.

Inside, the cabin has a stylish feel to it, with a 7.5-inch touchscreen and smart, easy-to-read instruments.

Thanks to the Swift’s sporty characteristics, the front seat occupants get rally-style seats to hold you securely in place on tightest corners.

Equipment levels are high throughout the range. Even the entry level models have air conditioning and electric front windows.When you trade up to SZ5 models, you get a satellite navigation,adaptive cruise control, keyless entry/start, a reversing camera and electric windows all round. The Swift also includes some new technology, with Bluetooth and DAB now coming with all models.

Suzuki has also placed a strong emphasis on safety, with features including an advanced forward detection system which combines a camera and a laser sensor to monitor the road ahead. The brakes are then automatically applied if the driver does not react to the likelihood of a crash.

All in all, the Swift is a much-improved offering that looks set to play a significant part Suzuki’s growth strategy.


Suzuki Swift 1.0 Boosterjet

PRICE: £15,849 on the road

ENGINE: 998cc three-cylinder petrol

PERFORMANCE: max speed of 118mph and 0-62mph in 10 seconds

TRANSMISSION: Automatic with manual mode, front-wheel drive

ECONOMY: Fuel 56.5mpg combined, emissions of 114g/km