Car Review: Suzuki - Swift  Series 10 (4 stars)

The latest Suzuki Swift is essentially the old car but much better, which is a good thing.

Suzuki was long known for its expertise in four-wheel-drive cars, with stalwarts like the Vitara, SJ and Jimny. In order to survive it has had to diversify though, and provide more of what the car-buying public wants.

Its Swift supermini, launched in 2004 and reviving an old name for the company, has been perhaps its most successful car to date, both critically and commercially - it was able to challenge the best in class on merit and its Swift Sport performance model was lauded as a good old-fashioned hot hatch.

The Swift is a very important car for Suzuki then, perhaps its most important car, so the pressure to get it right with a new generation of model is immense. You can understand why Suzuki has been restrained in making any changes, but the subtle tweaks that have been made are pleasing ones, and the Swift stands out in a busy and competitive class of cars.

One of the weaker points of the previous model was its engine range, but this has been addressed comprehensively by Suzuki. The best of the lot is the entry-level 1.2-litre petrol unit, which although noisy on the motorway, does rev freely, is very economical and provides strong performance around the city.

The interior isn't quite as stylish as the outside of the car, with a sombre dashboard characterised by swathes of shiny black plastic. If you want a premium-feeling car then you would be better off shopping elsewhere, but you definitely won't get this amount of standard equipment for anything near the same price. The Swift offers an excellent range of kit, even the entry-level model coming with a CD player, USB connection and steering wheel controls.

Where the previous generation car did place a great emphasis on driving fun, it is clear that this time round Suzuki wanted to create a car that fitted in with the environmental climate - the newer car remains quite fun, but has an overlay of frugal good sense about it. This is a strange mix which might appeal to people who feel guilty about enjoying the extravagance of more indulgent cars.

Essentially the latest Swift just carries right on where the old model left off, providing that fun yet frugal package with appeal for many buyers. This will be a relief for Suzuki with the pressure on - no doubt they have already started worrying about the next one.

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