Aston Martin celebrates its 100th anniversary with a radical one-off concept car
Suzuki Swift: month five
On fleet since: May 2012
Total mileage: 9,212 miles
Official combined mpg/CO2: 56.5/116g/km
Actual mpg: 46.3mpg
Costs: £0 so far
Pros: Agility, chassis composure, Suzuki customer service
Cons: Sluggish traction control, boot/parcel shelf arrangement - still...
Where have we been in the Suzuki Swift?
After our experience with a set of loose wheel nuts causing a terrible knocking noise from the Swift's front end, Suzuki suggested a set of locking wheel for our car. And very prompt they were too in arranging an appointment to have them fitted.
So it was off to our local dealer to get our nuts tightened... It was only a five-minute job, too, and all for free.
The Swift has also visited a racetrack this month - Silverstone, no less. It didn't actually turn a wheel on the hallowed tarmac as we were at one of Porsche's YouDrive days, held at the firm's Experience Centre there.
Effectively, it involves driving your vehicle up an Ice Hill - a soaking wet plastic membrane simulating the friction coefficient of the frozen stuff - with water 'walls' (jets sprayed up from the ground) as obstacles to avoid and test your management of grip.
The next item to encounter - the Kick Plate - is a moveable section of tarmac you drive over, actuated by a hydraulic ram. The plate registers your car's front wheels passing over it and primes itself ready for the rears.
Once it senses the weight it fires the plate sideways in a random direction and with a random degree of severity, sending your car sliding down the same lubricated low-grip plastic sheeting as the Ice Hill. It's an excellent way to practice car control in, well, a controlled environment, and one where the Suzuki impressed.
We've also done plenty of motorway miles in the Swift this month at elevated speeds - and it's hurt the car's overall economy True mpg is down to 46.3. Repeated long journeys mean the Swift's engine was spinning at around 4,000rpm for extended periods of time, guzzling the fuel at an increased rate.
What do we like about the Suzuki Swift?
The chassis' agility and composure showed itself when the limits of grip were exceeded. On the Ice Hill, even attacking the gradient at massively unrepresentative speeds of how you would drive in the conditions, with a delicate touch and decent throttle and brake control, it was easy to navigate.
It helped that all the controls are easy to modulate. The weighting of all the main interfaces are light, but you can be accurate with your inputs, so it's not a hindrance.
The traction control system is good, too - when it eventually starts working. It doesn't reign in the engine to the point where progress is halted, just to the extent where you can still get going without wasting masses of power. Still, a good throttle foot counts double here.
Onto the Kick Plate and what we champion about the Swift on the road shone through off it. As the car's short rump went sideways - and very quickly, as with more confidence I was hitting the plate at around 40mph on my later runs - the variable ratio steering responded quickly to my inputs and even on what felt like a friction-free surface, feedback as to what the chassis was doing was good.
That is until you get it on the lock stops. From that point you better hope it comes back by itself. You can use a bit of throttle to pull the front end round, but if the rear is not on its way back into line, then its game over.
As grip comes back and the weight transfer changes however, there were no nasty surprises or scary fish tailing moments as the rear axle swung the other way with a horrible pendulum motion. The car remained composed and as a result, very reassuring. It felt safe, nimble and capable all the while.
What don't we like about the Suzuki Swift?
We'll get it out of the way now. We still don't like the tiny boot and silly parcel shelf arrangement.
In fact, as I drive the car the most - and I'm generally on my own when I do so - I've taken to removing the parcel shelf and folding the rear seats forward. It gives a much more useable space to chuck stuff in from through the hatch or when entering the front of the cabin. Like a new limited-slip differential for my other wheels. As you do...
Apart from our main gripe since taking delivery of the Swift, we've uncovered that although good when working, the traction control takes an age to awake from its summer slumber.
With the roads being (relatively) dry over our time with the Swift and the car only producing 94hp, troubling the tyres for traction hasn't been something we've complained of.
But taking it to the regulated confines of the Porsche Experience Centre and its low-grip surfaces, we discovered an unnerving delay - the only unnerving thing about it, really - between wheels slipping and traction control light blinking.
The story is the same on the road now that a treacherous cocktail of autumn leaves, tree sap and rain water is spread across sections of asphalt. In fact, the system is so slow to react a responsive driver in tune with his car has time to gently lift off the throttle, letting the front tyres regain grip, before the system even so much as winks at you.
Another one of the Swift's electronic systems has been giving us a bit of a headache this month, too - but I'm pretty sure it's not the car's fault.
I recently got a new mobile phone you see. It connected to the car's Bluetooth unit fine and makes calls fine. It even plays music fine. But on the odd occasion it will, without warning, just drop a call. My old phone didn't do it, but my new one does. The only variable is the handset, so by my powers of deduction, the answer seems to be... I need to call Samsung.
What's next for the Suzuki Swift?
We've now just gone past the Swift's 9,000-mile service interval, meaning we'll need to get it booked in for a health check at our local dealer. No nut-tightening needed this time, hopefully...
In an age when engines are built with huge mileage totals in mind and designed to run for years into the future, it's odd that Suzuki still stipulate a 9,000-mile service interval, especially when manufacturers such as Audi state its cars can go without a service for 18,000 miles - double the Suzuki's proposed check-up period.
Still, regular maintenance should help keep the car's strong reliability just so and running well in years to come.
Apart from making sure KN12 WZV gets a fluid transfusion and a set of new filters, it'll be more of the same.
It starts first 'push' every morning and the same again at night. It'll carry you the length of the country in a decent degree of comfort, while not hurting your wallet - or the environment - all that much.
Yet when you want a Sunday drive to yourself, it's up for that, too. We intend to keep on doing it this way to uncover any last pearls of information the Swift has to give.
Report 1: Suzuki Swift arrival
Report 2: Suzuki Swift month two
Report 3: Suzuki Swift month three
Report 4: Suzuki Swift month four
Report 5: Suzuki Swift month five (this report)
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 @6,000rpm / 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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