Five years or so ago, when the original BMW Mini (Cooper) competed with the previous generation Suzuki Swift (Sport) I genuinely felt the Swift was a credible discount competitor. Since then the Mini has moved on in terms of quality, so has the new version of the Swift moved closer to BMW’s market leader or fallen back?
Inside, the near-vertical ‘post-box’ windscreen is very reminiscent of Minis. But the cabin also feels spacious and airy. In exterior looks, like the Mini, the new Swift looks a bit more chunky, but still small and sporty.
The designers have done well to keep the narrow feeling, which makes sliding through traffic easier. It’s not the narrowest car on the market, indeed it is wider than a Mini and about 5mm wider than the previous model, but it is narrower than a Vauxhall Corsa or Peugeot 208.
Around town the Swift has lost none of its plucky spirit; the gear change has a satisfying clunk, and the perky 1.6 VVT engine has a fun roar as you buzz through traffic. It propels the car off the line in busy traffic just as well as much bigger and more prestigious motors, and shows a clear set of wheels to anything mundane. Its 0-60 time is a healthy 8.7 seconds, I suspect its 0-25mph time is disproportionately quicker.
Yet the Swift’s strongest asset may well be its handling. The steering is responsive and weighty, which gives the driver confidence beyond what you expect in such a small car, especially on the twisty roads.
Out on the open road, the Swift gets up to speed well and always feels stable. But the road and engine noise are really loud and this spoils the car.
In every other way the Swift delights (for the money). But sadly, because of the terrible din at cruising speed, I think the Mini has rather pulled away from the Swift in terms of owner satisfaction.
But it has also pulled away in terms of cost too, whereas the Swift has remained very affordable.
What’s the market like?
There are around 100 nearly new Swifts on the market at any one time. Around 75% of these cars are the standard Swift with the small 1.2 petrol engine. These can be picked up for under £8,000 with less than 3,000 miles on the clock.
25% are the Swift Sport with 1.6 VVT engine. These can be found for just £500 more, with similarly low mileages. There are few cars in the market that are this much fun for this little money. A similar Vauxhall Corsa SRi will be around £1,000 more.
The Suzuki Swift loses money quickly for the first two years, then depreciation slows right down. So buying at 2 or 3 years old makes sense if you need to avoid depreciation.
Not quite a rival to the Mini, but then it does cost 40% less.
Words: Matthew Tumbridge