Suzuki's Swift has long been one of our favourite superminis and the fitment of a more efficient Dualjet 1.2-litre only underscores that fact. Jonathan Crouch reports.
Ten Second Review
The Suzuki Swift gets a more efficient engine in the shape of the 1.2-litre Dualjet petrol unit. Fuel economy is increased by 16 per cent to 65.7 mpg, while emissions drop to 99g/km. Power is down a little, but torque is up. It drives well and is affordably priced with a surprisingly long spec list in SZ4 trim. At that level, there's also the option of 4WD.
Is there a more underrated supermini available on the UK market than the Suzuki Swift? We don't think so. As much as we love the Ford Fiesta, the Volkswagen Polo and the Renault Clio, there's a lot to be said about keeping things simple. Suzuki has long adhered to this mantra, developing cars that offer what you need and not a whole lot extra, with prices reflecting that fact. Its Swift model has come through a number of iterations and by now, you might expect it to have gone all polished and upmarket, but it still feels peppy and infectious like superminis always used to. That is a good thing.
If you buy a Swift that's anything other than a 1.6-litre Sport model, these days you'll probably want it to be powered by a 1.2-litre Dualjet petrol engine. This powerplant is also a very good thing. Read on and we'll explain why.
The bad news first. The Dualjet engine actually develops less power than the older 1.2-litre engine Suzuki offers, peak power dipping slightly from 94 to 90PS. There is an upside in the fact that torque creeps up a bit from 118Nm at 4800rpm to 120Nm at 4000rpm which is key. Making the peak torque figure 800rpm lower in the rev range means the Dualjet engine actually feels a good deal more muscular and you won't need to be quite so heavy on the accelerator pedal to get it shifting. It's still not exactly concussive in its acceleration, getting to 62mph in 12.3 seconds, but numbers don't always tell you everything.
The bald stats don't do anything to convey how much fun the Swift is to drive. They don't give you a clue as to how light and direct the manual transmission is, how effortless yet faithful the steering is or how that lightweight engine helps create a front end that just loves to be thrown at a corner. Drive one and you can't help but feel that this is almost the perfect small car for cities, with just about enough suspension compliance to cope with city streets without ruining the perky handling. Out on the motorway, the Swift can feel a little out of its comfort zone, with some road noise filtering in and the steering, which is so good in town, feels a bit lighter than perhaps you'd like. That said, it's been designed for a purpose and it does that job really well. One option worth considering for country dwellers is the 4x4 drivetrain. Fit an appropriate set of winter tyes and you'll be surprised by just how far this car can get.
Design and Build
Like the rest of the Swift range, this SZ4 gets the latest styling refreshments including a revised front bumper and grille and silver detailing to the lower front bumper. For added safety and style, an LED high level brake lamp has been added. The interior design has been given some thought too, with better quality seat fabric featuring black as its keynote colour, with lined accents of blue and grey.
The fascia remains very driver focused, with a trio of overlapping dials in the instrument binnacle and a tapered centre console that draws the eye to the gear lever that marshals the five-speed manual transmission. The view out of the car is better than in most rivals, thanks again to that upright seating position and big glass area.
Market and Model
Prices for the Dualjet 1.2-litre SZ4 model start at around £12,700 and that buys you a five-door car with a manual gearbox. Make sure you know what you're looking at when you get to the Suzuki dealer as it's not always clear which 1.2-litre engine uses the Dualjet technology and which one doesn't, as old and new 1.2s are being sold side by side. Dualjet buyers also get the £1,500 option of 4WD.
The Swift isn't a car that majors on a whole bunch of luxuries, but this SZ4 trim doesn't do too badly for kit. It gets cruise control, a steering column that adjusts for rake as well as reach, satellite navigation, a DAB radio, a hill hold feature if you choose the automatic version, dusk-sensing headlights, automatic air conditioning, rear privacy glass and 16-inch alloy wheels.
Cost of Ownership
Yes, the clue's in the name. The Dualjet engine features twin injectors for improved fuel economy with 65.7mpg on the EC combined fuel consumption cycle, representing a 9.2mpg (16 per cent) improvement over the non-Dualjet 1.2-litre powerplant. Another benefit of this technology are reduced CO2 emissions, improved from 116g/km to 99g/km, meaning that this model is exempt from VED charges (Vehicle Excise Duty). Based on an annual mileage of 12,000 miles, that means you'll save around £150 in fuel per year alone. All these figures assume you've chosen the 2WD mdel. Opt for four driven wheels and you can expect to take a few per centage points off these figures.
So what's the advantage of using two fuel injectors? It sounds like you'd just be firing in twice as much petrol. Not so, says Suzuki. The Dualjet system positions the fuel injectors very close to the engine inlet valves and this allows for a finer fuel atomisation (or mixture) which in turn provides a more effective transfer into the engine. Internal modifications include the use of a new type of inlet port and combustion chamber with other mechanical parts also modified to reduce frictional losses and facilitate smoother running. There's also a start/stop system to prevent the engine idling in traffic.
The Dualjet engine featured on this Suzuki Swift might seem like a big deal to Suzuki but does it really make much difference to car buyers compared to the old one? In truth, not hugely. All the basic attributes of the Swift are still much as they were, it's just that this Dualjet serves up some nice-to-haves in the shape of lower fuel bills and tax. If you weren't putting the Swift on your shortlist already, it probably won't alter that decision. If you were, then here's a bonus. You just lucked in.
The Swift remains a quite lovely little supermini, especially if you like driving. It really does feel like an honest car that enjoys being blatted about. The interior still lacks a certain polish and it's not the cheapest in its class to insure, but the Dualjet engine brings us maybe the best-driving sub-100g/km car that sensible money can buy.