DRIVEN: 2018 Suzuki Swift 1.2 GL

They say you've bought (or in my case just drove) the right car when you take a second look as you're walking away.

With this being my first time being behind the wheel of a Suzuki Swift, I didn't really know what to expect of the little hatchback. The plethora of positive reviews must count for something, right?

Not your average hatch

The model we had on test was the 1.2-litre GL manual and upon driving it around the city centre and N1 highway, my mood changed from uncertainty to that of approval.

READ: What's your Dzire? Suzuki’s new Swift hatch and sedan in SA - Can it take on the Polo Vivo in SA?

I literally just turned on the ignition but it made me feel at home from the minute I hopped in. Such was the short time in which I took an instant liking to it.

Its all about that first impression.

I was impressed by the way it drives. It hugs the road and its 61kW engine has more than enough punch whether you on the highway or nipping through the city streets.

For those wanting a bit more grunt, the Sport version ups the ante a bit with more power from the multi-jet engine.

Suzuki South Africa has confirmed that the performance derivative will be available locally sometime during 2019.

The steering wheel has a sporty look and feel to it that brings a different dynamic to the cockpit with the big silver "S" of the brand staring you in the face.

I often found myself drawing comparisons between the Volkswagen Polo Vivo and in all honesty, the Swift ticks the boxes for a car that I would personally buy. Furthermore, it is a different alternative for people looking to buy something other than a Toyota or VW.

Well worth its weight

It is aggressively priced at R175 900 and also features a selection of six funky colours to choose from. I would willingly spend five years of my life paying for this car.

Truth is, people still prefer the Polo over anything else, the monthly numbers by Naamsa reflect that. But why drive something everyone else has?

My mom's first words upon seeing it and sitting in the front seat for the first time was "I really like this car". I jokingly told her that its better than her (2014) VW Polo Vivo and she agreed. This, in a serious tone. She said it, not me.

Can the Swift go up against the likes of the Volkswagen Polo Vivo, Toyota Etios and Hyundai i20? I have no doubt that it will, and punch well above its weight.

Team opinion

Janine Van der Post: 
Suzuki is a lot more popular in South Africa than most realise. The Japanese automaker is bringing in product after product which finds more and more favour with local customers.

The Swift has been a firm favourite over the past few years, and the new model is no different.

At first glance I wasn't immediately sold by its looks only because I preferred the sharper lines on the previous version. Not that the new one isn't stylish or cute because it most certainly is.

But, just like Robin, the moment I got in the vehicle and started driving, any glimmer of resistance crumbled.

I'm not quite sure what Suzuki has done, but the Swift feels a lot more comfortable, more sturdy and better put together than before. It feels homely, and I finally get their tagline: 'All the right feels'.

You just sit right because the attention to detail is obvious in the way the seating has been designed, driving position is super comfy along with pedal and steering wheel reaches. Hence driving it is such a charm too.

It's 61kW is gutsy enough to get you where you need to be, and it prods along nicely in flowing highway driving with 113Nm coming from the 1.2-litre GL engine. 

Wheels24 happened to have a rival of the Swift in the test garage too in the form of the Ford Figo. Between the two, the Swift is better packaged, but most importantly, the latter is a lot more fuel efficient too.

Fuel consumption in real driving conditions is pretty good. Suzuki claims a combined average consumption of 4.9-litres/100km. It has a 37-litre fuel tank and with today's record-high numbers, these are desirable figures and loved by any bank account. I averaged between 5.5 - 5.9-litres/100km in Cape Town traffic and free-flowing highways. Top speed is claimed at 170km/h. 

The only niggle I'd change is to make the doors lock automatically once you have turned the ignition. In today's era where doors lock automatically, this is something I overlook frequently as I'm expecting the doors to lock by itself. Only after I have driven quite a distance do I notice the doors are still unlocked and have to do so manually. This might be a tiny nuisance, but with a child in the back seat, safety is a rather big priority. And, the Figo's doors locked automatically despite not having as many features as the Swift.

But with that said, there are two Isofix seat anchorages, as well as two seat tether anchorages, as well as childproof rear door locks as standard.  

For R175 900, the Suzuki Swift offers a great package, driving experience and, 'all the right feels'.   

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