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Suzuki Swift: arrival
On fleet since: May 2012
Total mileage: 3,688
Official combined mpg/CO2: 56.5/116g/km
Actual mpg: 41.9
Costs: £0 so far
Pros: Willing engine, taut ride, direct handling
Cons: Small boot, rear visibility, hard interior plastics
Why are we running a Suzuki Swift?
The current generation Swift has been around since its launch in 2010 and we're a fan here at MSN Cars. It doesn't look that different to the car it replaced though, meaning there's potential for the Suzuki supermini to be overlooked next to the competition.
But that's exactly why we like it. It might not deliver the same air of quality as a Volkswagen Polo - but it'll entertain you more when you're feeling spirited - and it's not as busy inside and out, or as obvious as a Ford Fiesta or Vauxhall Corsa.
The Swift has its merits and it has its drawbacks, just like any car. But we're hoping to find out just what they are over the next six months, and whether the car can cut it in a world of small sophisticated European hatchbacks, despite its made in Taiwan price tag.
First impressions say yes - and they count. But they can also be deceiving. We like the effort Suzuki has gone to in trying to ape the more quality end of the market with its layout and controls - we're talking VW Polo here.
But we don't like the fact that saving a few pence on the grade of materials the cabin is clad with lets it down. It looks soft touch, but it isn't - it's a bit hard and scratchy.
Build quality is great though. There's no nasty trim rattles and everything feels well screwed together - manifested by the thunk on shutting the door - like six months on the potholed roads around the UK won't trouble it.
Performance is on a par with the competition. The Swift is showing just over 600 miles on the clock, so the motor isn't as free as it could be, but it still feels willing to rev out - 0-62mph taking 12.3 seconds on paper.
Which is useful, as maximum power and torque are both produced beyond 4,500rpm, meaning you need to keep that throttle pinned to make decent progress. The motor responds though, and definitely picks up after 5,000 revs, the sweet shifting manual five-speeder helping keep things moving, er, swiftly. And that's the only 'swift' pun you'll read while the car is under my tenure.
Feels alive when there's a bit of pace on
The ride is taut - a Swift trait Richard wasn't so keen on at higher speeds - but it suits me perfectly. In the recent miserable conditions that have ranged from hope-crushing drizzle to the awful torrential downpours of late, the Swift feels planted and assured on the road.
It's a shame that the steering is a little too light, as it feels at odds with the communicative but supple chassis setup. The variable ratio is direct though, and makes the Swift feel alive when there's a bit of pace on. Maybe it's something I'll grow to like.
The main obvious drawback of the Swift is its pretty meagre boot. 211 litres feels small next to a Ford Fiesta's 295-litre luggage capacity and is enough to accommodate only a medium sized overnight bag and a rucksack.
The boot aperture itself is on the small side, too - a high lip and a low parcel shelf means just chucking your bag in the back isn't an option. It's annoying.
What do you get for your money?
In short, a lot. Our Swift is in three-door SZ4 trim, priced at £12,515. That means Bluetooth phone and music streaming, cruise control, keyless entry and go, 16-inch alloy wheels, privacy glass, MP3-compatible stereo with steering wheel audio controls, climate control and automatic headlights.
The only option fitted to our test car is its Kashmir Blue metallic paint at £399, and even with its sparkly blue hue, compared to a similar spec £14,300 Fiesta Titanium or £14,435 Corsa SE, the Suzuki's price is eye opening - in anyone's books, that's good value.
Suzuki do offer a 1.3-litre diesel Swift at £13,355, but as 90 per cent of models sold in the UK are petrol, we want to sample what makes Suzuki's loyal customers plump for the non oil burning example.
What's next for the Suzuki Swift?
We've got a lot lined up for the Swift over the next six months. Even as a humble cooking car, we want to explore the depths of its able chassis and investigate its ability as a grown up supermini in equal measure.
Covering as many bases as possible is what cars like the Swift are designed to do, and living with one for six months - taking in your average commute, monotonous motorway miles to test comfort and a few back road blitzes - should give us a great idea as to how well-rounded the Swift is.
Our overriding first impressions are positive.
Report 1: Suzuki Swift arrival (this report)
Report 2: Suzuki Swift month two
Report 3: Suzuku Swift month three
Report 4: Suzuki Swift month four
Report 5: Suzuki Swift month five
Report 6: Suzuki Swift final report
Need to know
Engine: 1.2-litre Dual VVT petrol
Performance: 0-62mph in 12.3 seconds, 103mph top speed
Power / torque: 94hp @ 6,000 rpm / 87lb ft @ 4,800rpm
Insurance group: 9E
List price: £12,515
Options fitted: Metallic paint (£399)
Price as tested: £12,914
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