Thursday, 10 October 2013

REVIEW - Suzuki Swift SZ4 4x4

I have reviewed the Suzuki Swift a couple of times now in various trim levels, but I was rather interested in the latest model to hit the showrooms; the Swift 4x4. With a permanent 4WD system that adapts to the terrain and an attractive price tag, I decided to give one a test. It has a bit of a more rugged appearance and aims to provide a family hatchback which can deal with tougher conditions. But is the Swift 4x4 practical in the real world? And are there any drawbacks with the new model? Read on to find out...

Looks - 9/10


I like the design of the new Swift. In standard guise, it's lines are pleasing and easy on the eye. In the Swift Sport tracksuit and trainers, it's even better. So what does the 4x4 offer? Well on the outside it's mostly the same as the standard car. There are the re-designed daytime running lights and updated wheel design, featured amongst the same curves of the 5-door body. What the 4x4 gets though, are plastic trims around all the wheel arches and sideskirts, and a grey trim at the front and back. These certainly give the Swift 4x4 a more rugged look. You will notice it sits a little higher than the standard car- 25mm to be precise- and if you peer underneath the rear of the car you will spot the differential which gives away the cars 4WD drivetrain.


On the inside everything is pretty much as you get in the other models. The seats are function and inoffensive. The dash trim and controls are rather nice; much better than the last model. I did find the interior a bit on the dark side, but then again if you ever found yourself in a muddy field you'd hardly desire a cream trim would you? The steering wheel controls are logical and work well, and I like the silver trim on the front doors. This is lacking on the back doors, and in general the back is a little uninspiring. However, the SZ4 did have privacy glass which I thought was both stylish and functional.

Handling/Performance - 9/10

My test car was powered with the only engine available; the 1.2-litre VVT petrol engine. That may sound small, but it's a great little unit; producing 94PS and 118Nm of torque. Whilst that may not tear up the Yorkshire Dales, it's adequate for a car of this size. The Swift 4x4 will get from 0-62mph in 13.4 seconds, and go on to a top speed of 103mph. Now on paper this isn't impressive at all- I will not deny that the Swift 4x4 doesn't share it's athletic sibling's forward momentum- but get the little 1.2 revving and it feels like it zips around rather well. You can cruise comfortably on the motorway, but you will notice that your speed starts to decline if you're in 5th gear and you find yourself on a hill.

The handling is why the Swift 4x4 scores so well here. The standard car handles well, with good steering and a well balanced feel. The Swift Sport is a dream, and the 4x4 is just as good. The amount of grip is never ending. The 4WD system actively distributes the power to whichever wheels can handle it best. What's better is you can feel it working. I set off hurriedly in the wet to test this theory, and after one- yes, actually one- spin of the front wheels I felt the power shift somewhat to the rear and off we went. There's minimal understeer even in the slipperiest of conditions, and I was staggered at how the Swift 4x4 takes the bends. It just shrugs them off, and an A-road in the wet was as blissful and undramatic as a stroll in the park. If the Swift 4x4 had a bit more grunt, and in particular more torque would be welcomed, then it really could offer the perfect package.

Economy - 9/10

Now one of the major advantages of having the 1.2-litre engine is the rate at which it sips from its fuel tank. Combined fuel consumption is an impressive 51.3mpg, and CO2 emissions are
just 126g/km. This means that road tax is free in the first year, and currently £105 thereafter. The regular swift is £30 a year, and £75 doesn't seem much of a price to have such a useful feature as 4WD. All things considered, I was impressed with how the car performed, and the running costs will add another positive aspect to ownership of a Swift 4x4.

Practicality - 9/10

So as you would expect, there are various aspects which make the Swift 4x4 a very practical car indeed. Let's start with the obvious; the 4WD system. When the weather takes a turn for the worse, you can have more piece of mind that the Swift 4x4 can cope with little effort at all. I daresay on gravel tracks or grassy areas it would perform well too. Being the SZ4 my test car had cruise control and keyless entry and go, and all 4x4 models get bluetooth which is a great feature. The cabin has lots of legroom and headroom for all passengers, and the boot is a reasonable size too. Visibility is good, and the control are laid out in a simple and logical way. The Swift 4x4 was easy to live with, and enjoyable too.

Fun - 8/10

So how does all this translate into putting a smile on your face? Well, it's yet more good news for the Swift. It's revvy, grippy, and invites you to drive it. You are rewarded for pushing the boundaries of grip, because you will realise just how brilliant the little Swift is. It has the subtle nods to rugged off-roadness and it will make you smile when you check your fuel bills because it won't drink it for fun. I'd love to take one of these in a field or down a gravel track, because I just get the feeling it would be an absolute riot. Every time I got behind the wheel I was left feeling impressed at how well it performed. When I took it down a twisty A road in what would be considered damp conditions, it definitely put a smile on my face, because it came into its element.


Concluding Remarks

So, the Swift 4x4 then. It's practical, economical, and a tough little machine. And being a Suzuki, you get a 3 year, 60,000 mile warranty, and even in top SZ4 specification, the Swift 4x4 is a very reasonable £15,739 which ticks another box for value too. The whole car feels well built, and the quality has improved leaps and bounds in recent years. So should you buy one? Well that's up to you really. But if you live somewhere where poor weather causes issue, or where it rains a lot, then the extra grip may just do the trick for you. The Swift 4x4 then, the small car that makes a big impact. For more information contact your nearest Suzuki dealership, or head over to Suzuki's website

Total Score - 44/50

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