Suzuki Swift (overall score = 4/5)

We’ve long been fans of the Suzuki Swift, ever since the fourth-generation car arrived in 2005 and set the cat among the pigeons. With its sharp design, excellent reliability record and engaging dynamics the Swift quickly carved out a niche for itself. Since then we’ve had another two generations of Swift with the one tested here new for this year. Just like its predecessors it’s a compelling choice if you’re not bothered about following the crowd. It’s likely to be reliable, it looks neat and it’s very good value – especially in mid-range form.

Swift cabin

Cabin (3/5)

Although the Swift is in the supermini class so it’s up against the Corsa and Fiesta, both of those cars have more cabin space. There are seatbelts and head rests for three in the back but the Swift is best viewed as a four-seater, and even then only if neither of the front-seat occupants is especially tall or the rear-seat occupants well-built. It’s not as though the boot is large to compensate for the tight rear seats; it’s about average with its 265-litre capacity.

Getting comfy up front is easy though, thanks to supportive seats and a steering wheel that adjusts for reach and rake; in the supermini class you still can’t take this for granted. There are lots of cubby holes, the ventilation is excellent and while the cabin plastics don’t look or feel premium, they don’t look low-rent either. The multi-media system relies on icons that aren’t very intuitive, but once you’ve mastered it, it works well enough, and the radio sounds superb.

Swift Steering wheel

Driving (4/5)

There’s plenty to like when it comes to the driving experience because the Swift is just so easy to drive. The light controls are typically Japanese and while the steering has too much assistance, you soon get used to it. The sweet three-cylinder engine is happy to be revved and around town it provides plenty of zip. It’s good on faster roads too, and even at motorway speeds the Suzuki is stable and refined. As with its predecessors the Swift handles with verve and the car is easy to place thanks to the good all-round visibility and the large mirrors. Manoeuvring is easy thanks to a tight turning circle; it was made even easier on our test car with the fitment of a parking camera. Our biggest gripe is that our range-topping Swift came with lots of driver aids such as Lane Departure Warning and Auto Emergency Braking, both of which were too sensitive so they intervened too early.

Suzuki Swift External

Which one? (9/10)

There are three Swift trims to choose from: SZ3 starts at £10,999, SZ-T is priced from £12,999 while the SZ5 tested here starts at £14,499. Even the entry-level car comes with Bluetooth, DAB radio, air-con and privacy glass. The SZ-T adds a rear-view camera, alloy wheels and touch-screen multi-media. The SZ5 comes with driver aids galore, navigation, climate control, LED headlights and adaptive cruise control.

The SZ3 comes only with an old-fashioned 1.2-litre normally aspirated engine; the SZ-T comes only in 1.0 Boosterjet form while the SZ5 is available in 1.0 Boosterjet or 1.2-litre 4WD forms, the former with either a manual or automatic gearbox. We’d be inclined to take the mid-range SZ-T with its 1.0-litre engine as it’s the best value of the lot.