Saturday, 8 September 2012

COLUMN - September 2012

Here is my column from the September edition of The Local Herald for a second chance to read it. This month I decided to go with a positive note after the particularly negative summer we have had. I gave a quick review of the Suzuki Swift SZ4, which can also be found in full on the Car Reviews page. Enjoy!...

 So we find ourselves in September already. The school holidays are over and fresh starts are upon us. What’s more, September offers with it a feeling that the weather will be on the downturn, and that’s particularly de-motivating after the dismal excuse for a summer we’ve had this year.

However this month I wish to inject some positivity onto the page and think I have just the trick; the Suzuki Swift. I didn’t know what to expect with this car and was a bit cautious of jumping to conclusions before actually testing it. You see the old swift was priced below its competitors, but also fell short of them in terms of quality. In particular, the interior quality left a lot to be desired, and the engines weren’t as refined as the European rivals.

So the big question then; has anything changed? Well gladly the answer is a big yes. The Swift is a tremendous small car, and offers a package including a great engine, fantastic equipment list and superb styling. I tested the SZ4 model which is priced around £13,000 for the 5-door model. It was fitted with the 1.2-litre VVT engine which offers 94PS and 56.5mpg. What’s more, with emissions of 116g/km road tax is a measly £30 per year (free first year).

Whilst I’m talking about the engine, I must say I didn’t get it at first. Being a 1.2 and the Swift being far from small in size, it felt underpowered a lot of the time; I often had to down-change when going up hills. I was ready to hate it… until I let the revs climb. Get into the power band and this thing is a hoot. It feels nippy as it whizzes up towards the redline. It’s not particularly fast; 0-62mph takes 12.3 seconds, but it certainly feels fast. What’s more, the engine is smooth, refined, and doesn’t feel like it will break after a bit of revving; almost like it wants to be revved.

“But surely this will affect the fuel economy?” I hear you ask. Well no, actually. Even on a proper A-road blast the Swift refused to return less than 50 to the gallon, and that really is a great performance.

Inside the cabin is where the most significant changes can be found. The exterior styling points to the previous Swift, but on the inside there are barely any recognisable features. After a complete overhaul the interior quality has improved exponentially. It is right up there with its competitors, and in the SZ4 trim has everything you could possibly want in a small hatchback, and more! As standard you get iPod connectivity, Bluetooth, cruise control, keyless entry, push-button start, stability control, automatic air-con, 16” alloys, privacy glass and front foglights.

That list of equipment is fantastic, and at £13,000 the SZ4 offers good value. It has the equipment to keep you happy, an engine that will save you money at the pumps, exterior styling that you will love, and an interior that will make the Swift a nice place to be on any journey. As an overall family car I struggled to fault it. Personally I would consider the Swift Sport, and I hope to review this soon to see if it can offer a sporty alternative.

As usual a full review of this car can be found on my blog. There are some great features on my site at the moment, including some photos from a trip I had to the Heritage Motor Museum at Gaydon for a Jaguar Land Rover experience day.

Dan

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