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Suzuki Swift: month four
On fleet since: May 2012
Total mileage: 7,263
Official combined mpg/CO2: 56.5/116g/km
Actual mpg: 47.9
Costs: £0 so far
Pros: Continuing efficiency improvements, steering feel, agility
Cons: Rear visibility trouble, wheel trouble...
Where have we been in the Suzuki Swift?
This has certainly been the Swift's most eventful month during its time with MSN Cars.
It was called into action as a camera vehicle for our back-to-back Subaru BRZ v Toyota GT86 twin test (keep an eye out for that one). We tested its boot space and ride quality by throwing a photographer in the luggage bay and asking him to snap some shots of the two blood brothers down a bouncy B-road.
It worked out well. We've commented on the Swift's firm but supple ride before, and keeping speed down, the chassis' decent control meant it wasn't too difficult to get the images in the can after a few passes up and down.
We were also meant to be heading up to Bedford Autodrome in the Swift to take on the Fifth Gear team on track. Unfortunately, we were met with an odd clonking/knocking sound that morning - the car certainly didn't sound healthy - so were forced to leave our Suzuki supermini at home.
No matter. Suzuki's helpful Accident Assistance team sent an AA patrol out to us just 30 minutes after we rang them that afternoon. It turned out the Swift's wheel nuts were loose on both front rims, meaning there was some serious play between hub and alloy while on the move.
We're not sure if the nuts had worked themselves loose from the factory or if they hadn't been tightened. The latter seems highly unlikely given the car goes through a pre-delivery inspection and the former pretty improbable too.
Which leaves us with the conclusion that some rapscallion has tried to liberate our Swift of its two front wheels, especially since the car doesn't get locking wheel nuts. You'd think they'd have realised they need a jack to get them off...
What do we like about the Suzuki Swift?
Once fixed, the Swift was back on fine form. The car doesn't do any one thing badly, but I'm coming to realise that the material quality I could forgive at the start is now not quite as easy to ignore.
Feels like it's been built to a price
It certainly feels like it's been built to a price - more so than a Volkswagen Polo for example. As a result, it arguably doesn't feel quite as complete a package, but we keep returning to the strong level of kit on offer for the money.
Which brings us to our next point. Having cruise control on a car this small is a welcome addition, but we've spotted an odd trait with the system on our car - using it for the first time after the car has been started, you have to double press the 'Set' button for it to register.
The automatic headlights are becoming more intuitive now. Where they would once take an age to switch on - or illuminate in the middle of a bright day - then not turn off again for a while, the system is now quicker to react to a change in candelas.
We still find it odd that Suzuki chose to equip the Swift with a sensor for automatic lights but didn't bother combining it with one for auto wipers, however.
Jumping out of the Swift and into a SEAT Ibiza we had on test proved just how willing and well set up the chassis of our long termer is - its nice direct steering gives good feedback and the tenacious chassis generates a decent amount of grip.
This month the Swift's trip computer has been recording ever-improving efficiency. Last month the dash was displaying 47.2mpg and in just three weeks we've improved that by 0.5mpg.
Given we've been pounding the motorways to and from events at, er, motorway speeds, that's impressive. Actual mpg has reflected this too - it's now up to an amazing 47.9mpg.
What don't we like about the Suzuki Swift?
I've done a lot of motorway miles in the Suzuki this month, and when one inconsiderate front seat passenger left the chair in a sub-optimal position after leaving the vehicle, it screwed up my over-the-shoulder lifesaver when pulling in on the motorway.
Similar in design to the supercar slayer
You see the rear three-quarter view isn't great anyway. The Swift has a rear window reminiscent of an upturned pane from a Nissan GT-R.
Coupled with its blacked-out A-pillar and angular interaction with the roof, it's actually similar in design to the Japanese supercar slayer and looks similar if you squint. Sort of...
It meant less than a small porthole's glass area to try and spot a car on your inside. I kept forgetting to move the seat forward again, but once back to its normal position average visibility was restored.
Another minor issue with the Swift is the right-hand stalk arrangement. In most cars it's one swipe down for one wipe of the windscreen and up in stages to control the speed of the wipers. Not so in the Swift - it's totally reversed.
It's only through familiarity with European cars that means I sometimes get it wrong - and my fault entirely, of course - but it's just an observation I've noted throughout my time with the car.
But why is it such low resolution?
Another minor issue we have centres with the car's audio interface. It's clear and pretty easy to use for both music and Bluetooth phone calls. But why is it such low resolution?
When the display in the dash gets a nice hi-res graphic for the trip computer and clock, why does the stereo screen get a dot matrix display like a '90s Nintendo Gameboy?
Oh, and the complaint about the annoying parcel shelf since I've had the car? I was vindicated this month when CJ borrowed the Swift for a few days. His sentiments on the matter echo mine.
What's next for the Suzuki Swift?
It seems as though we've centred on more things that we dislike about the Swift this month than stuff we hold the car in such high esteem for. Maybe that's true, but it's still a cracking little motor in terms of its dynamics, efficiency and equipment-to-price ratio.
Next month will certainly highlight the first point in that trio of positives as we've got some interesting and unusual tests for the little Suzook's chassis and that communicative steering. Stay tuned.
Report 1: Suzuki Swift arrival
Report 2: Suzuki Swift month two
Report 3: Suzuki Swift month three
Report 4: Suzuki Swift month four (this report)
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 @6,000rpm / 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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