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Suzuki Swift: month two
On fleet since: May 2012
Total mileage: 4,112
Official combined mpg/CO2: 56.5/116g/km
Actual mpg: 42.4
Costs: £0 so far
Pros: comfort, cruise control, quiet cabin, stereo
Cons: practicality, steering around straight-ahead, annoying parcel shelf
Where have we been in the Suzuki Swift?
The Swift has been acting outside its remit somewhat this month. Although it'll take in the big motorway schleps, it's more of a towns and cities runabout or a rural-urban commuter than a long distance cruiser.
So, it was only natural for us to test the Swift over nearly 2,000 motorway miles to see how it performed. The short answer is pretty well.
The long answer encompasses the caveats to that "pretty well", though - the kind of stuff you only find out about on a camping trip to Le Mans or a Friday evening slog from Hertfordshire to Cornwall, not to mention the Sunday night trek back down the M1 and M6 motorways.
What do we like about the Suzuki Swift?
Although it might not be the most visually stimulating, the Swift's cabin is comfortable. Sat in the same position for close to five hours things can get tiresome and bodies weary, so it's just as well the bases and backrests of the Swift's chairs are comfortable, supportive and easy to manipulate into a relaxed driving position.
Aiding the calm ambience is the car's refined cabin - there's little wind rush from around the mirrors and not much tyre roar, allowing the stock stereo to shine. Apart from the development of a slight rattle from one of the speaker grilles under my tenure so far, the Swift's audio setup is pretty impressive.
It's a good amplifier of the car's clear and reliable Bluetooth system, too. Counteracting that, pairing a new phone can be a bit tricky and is a button pressing sequence you couldn't intuitively work through. Consultation of the manual is needed. I must be getting old.
It's all really quite civilised and the standard-fit cruise control on our SZ4 spec long termer helps in this regard as well.
The Swift's throttle is light and means you actually have to hold your foot off the pedal to maintain a given speed, rather than relying on the return spring to stop your boot sinking into the carpet.
Up hill the system does its best to maintain your chosen velocity, but at motorway speeds in top gear the engine isn't near its torque or power peaks - good for efficiency, yes, but the rather flat response sometimes means you need to supplement it with a bit of right foot yourself.
The engine and gearbox are loosening up nicely, however, and feel more willing to spin - especially up high. Unfortunately we've been covering too many motorway miles and not done enough consistent back-to-back route testing to assess whether fuel economy is improving, so more on that next month.
Small hatchbacks can sometimes get irksome after a while behind the wheel - initiating pains and cramps - but it's just not so here thanks to the Swift's comfort and refinement: an impressively admirable big-car quality.
What don't we like about the Suzuki Swift?
Which is more than can be said for the car's luggage capacity. The Swift's 211-litre load bay (seats up) is down compared to its competition - a Ford Fiesta will hold a further 84 litres - and it's high boot lip makes loading difficult.
It's nearly 30% less voluminous than the Ford and it really shows. On a weekend camping trip with the onus on travelling light - we're talking the tiniest of two-man tents, and one rucksack full of clothes amongst other ancillary items - the Swift's boot is chocked full to the irritatingly fiddly parcel shelf.
We didn't realise how frustrating it'd be
In our arrival report we remarked on the annoyance of the boot's narrow aperture, but we didn't realise quite how frustrating it'd be until we tried to load luggage.
We'll concede, however, that the Swift's brief isn't to carry plenty of people and bulk long distances. And anyway, the rear of the cabin is roomy enough to chuck your goods in the back if you have to.
The other minor gripe we have with the Suzook is an odd trait with the steering around the straight-ahead. The variable ratio, electrically assisted setup is sweet - if a bit light - once you apply some lock, but is overly sensitive in a straight line.
It's particularly noticeable in crosswinds, but manifests itself even under normal motorway driving - if you want to trim your line slightly, squeezing the steering a few degrees, the Swift is too eager to turn.
It feels artificial and means that you end up tacking your way down your motorway lane trying to be as gentle as possible with the wheel.
Fuel consumption isn't great and at nearly 85mph on a French motorway (that's a true 130kph) it shows. There seems to be a critical threshold where the 1.2-litre motor passes its watershed and fuel economy suffers. Back it off to between 70 and 75mph however, and the Swift seems much more at home.
Still, 42.4mpg over 1,988 miles at an average speed of over 70mph isn't too bad - if the Swift had a sixth ratio to utilise, dropping the revs back to below 3,000rpm at 80mph, we could definitely see things improving.
What's next for the Suzuki Swift?
A little less of the motorway slog and a few more varied miles under its belt we think are in order. As we said, we want to try and record some back-to-back efficiency runs to compare the car's fuel economy to that when it arrived.
Sales reps don't use small petrol hatches
Not that it can't do it, but we won't be trawling the motorways so much this month (sales reps don't use small petrol hatchbacks for a reason). Instead, we'll be driving the Suzuki a little more to its strengths.
We'll be comparing the standard Swift to its more racey brother - the Swift Sport - too, seeing if the traits we're fond of in the standard car run through the DNA, and if the cooking vehicle could benefit from anything the Sport has to offer.
Over an action-packed seven days worth of driving last month - including being faced with the very brief spell of scintillating weather we had over the jubilee bank holiday - the Swift coped admirably.
By recent example, it looks like we're going to find out if it can manage with more inclement conditions. Long live the British summer, hey?
Report 1: Suzuki Swift arrival
Report 2: Suzuki Swift month two (this report)
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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