We attended the 2013 International Mini Meeting in Italy - here's our MSN Cars Mini Mania mega gallery
Suzuki Swift: month three
On fleet since: May 2012
Total mileage: 5,724
Official combined mpg/CO2: 56.5/116g/km
Actual mpg: 44.6mpg
Costs: £0 so far
Pros this month: Efficiency improving, compliant and controlled ride, value for money
Cons this month: Seat adjustment not fine enough, short(ish) gearing
Where have we been in the Suzuki Swift?
Although the mileage has increased by a good chunk this month (our Suzuki Swift now has 5,724 miles under its belt to be exact), we've not actually been that far in terms of long distance drives in the car - partly because we had its more powerful and racy sibling in the office for a week.
Being able to go key-to-key (or should that be pebble-like lozenge to pebble-like lozenge?) with the Swift Sport and our top-spec cooking Swift SZ4 made a nice comparison and highlighted some neater features of the standard car. But it also shed some light on areas where the normal Swift gives away ground to the Sport.
What do we like about the Suzuki Swift?
The fact that you get an identical dashboard and centre console to the Sport means you get the same functions as the £13,499 range-topper in the £12,515 shopping car. Apart from a different gearstick, revised seats for more support and some natty aluminium pedals, the Sport is no different to the standard Swift.
Is it a failing on the Sport's part or a bonus of the SZ4 trim? A bit of both, really. If you're in the range's halo model - especially if it's a sporty, dynamically focused edition - you want to know you are.
Even if it only costs 13 and a half grand - roughly £1,000 more than our car - you want to feel a little more special than you would in the rest of the line-up.
But not to take anything away from our long-termer: as we've previously mentioned, its standard spec is on a par with vehicles from the class above and eclipses its rivals on value for money.
The powertrain is loosening up as well
The powertrain is loosening up as well now, with over 5,500 miles on the clock. The trip computer is showing an optimistic 47.2mpg combined, but actual fuel economy has risen to an average of 44.6, up 2.2mpg on last month.
That said, we've only really been driving the Swift on A and B roads, conditions under which the car is certainly at its most efficient.
Driving the SZ4 and the Sport back-to-back, it also highlighted our long-termer's supple ride. The Sport is obviously sportier - no prizes for guessing that correctly. As a result the SZ4's chassis feels compliant and controlled, is much less harsh over serious road crevices and doesn't transmit the lumbar-crushing thunks the Sport sometimes does.
In our arrival report we asked if the Swift could cut it in a world of solid, upmarket European hatchbacks despite its made in Taiwan price-tag. At the three-month interval, we have to say it's doing a decent job so far.
What don't we like about the Suzuki Swift?
Driving the Sport on a few longer runs - including a trip down to Goodwood for the Festival of Speed - you realise how nice it is to have a sixth ratio. Our Swift's engine musters just 87lb ft of torque produced fairly high up at 4,800rpm, whereas the Sport churns out 118lb ft of twisting force.
With more torque, the Sport can handle the longer ratio and still return decent economy - in our long-term Swift there isn't enough urgency from the motor to be able to pull a longer top gear. As a result, the Sport highlights the 1.2-litre engine's slightly frenetic nature when travelling at motorway speeds.
It's at odds with the rest of the car though - as we've mentioned before, it's quiet, comfy and refined inside the cabin at speed, and it makes you wonder why the final product wasn't geared that little bit taller, with a tweak to the engine to yield its torque a little lower in the rev range.
I inadvertently altered my seating position
We're not asking for a sixth gear. Pretty much all of its competitors - including the Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa offer five speeds, even if some VW Polo models boast six - but maybe just to lengthen the gearing slightly to make it a slightly more relaxed cruiser. Dropping engine speed would likely help economy, too.
Returning to the issue of comfort, we've complimented the Swift for an admirable ability to leave you feeling pretty fresh after a long journey - strong air conditioning, cruise control and a decent seat and stereo all help here - but we've had a few problems with, er, driver ergonomics this month, shall we say.
Basically, that means I inadvertently altered my seating position by loading some luggage onto the rear bench seat of the Swift.
You see, when you fold the driver's seat forward, it doesn't return to it's original position when pushed back. That means you've got to work at finding that perfect relationship between arms, legs and back again.
I've found that difficult as a result of the Suzuki's ratchet adjustment for the seat back. Instead of a rotary control, which is much more minutely adjustable, the ratchet system means you either get position A, B, C and so on. If you're ideal configuration is between any of the pre-set points, you're stuffed.
But it's odd that I had a comfortable seat setup and couldn't re-establish that for sometime after my luggage-loading experience that put me out of kilter. After nearly ten minutes of yanking handles, pulling levers and pushing controls the other night, I think I'm back to somewhere near now.
What's next for the Suzuki Swift?
We've potentially got something lined up to throw the Swift well and truly out of its comfort zone, but we won't be revealing all just yet - it's safe to say that the proposed antics probably weren't in the Swift's engineering or design brief...
Beyond that, there'll be more of the same next month, with a continuing close eye being kept on the car's fuel economy.
Despite it's strong performance already though, after a worthwhile amount of time living with the car we'll be examining whether the Swift has an invisible ceiling limiting its appeal to buyers. In other words, what does that stylised S sitting smack-bang in the middle of the grille do for its street cred and lifestyle appeal?
Report 1: Suzuki Swift arrival
Report 2: Suzuki Swift month two
Report 3: Suzuki Swift month three (this report)
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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