Review: Suzuki Swift and S-Cross

Suzuki came out of 2017 with a smile on its face, with UK going past the 40,000 mark for the first time. The impetus came from the new Swift hatchback, launched last January. Swift followed the arrival of the SX4 S-Cross and the Ignis hatchback. Its best-seller is the Vitara.

The Japanese-built Suzuki Swift supermini is a decent family car.
The Japanese-built Suzuki Swift supermini is a decent family car.

Suzuki owners like the low running costs. What Car? magazine has just given the petrol Ignis its “true mpg” award, with a figure of 56.9mpg – the highest achieved from any car last year. An Ignis I tested recorded 53mpg. Coming next year, a new Jimny compact 4x4. Seen here are the Swift and the S-Cross.

The latter is described as a practical family cross-over by Suzuki. Can’t argue with that. It had a vivid facelift in later 2016 and once you see the Jeep-ish chromed vertically slatted face you’ll be either won over, or not bothered. Prices open at £17,499 for a turbocharged Boosterjet 110bhp petrol one litre SZ4, rating 56.4 mpg. Kit includes a reversing camera and adaptive cruise control. Next up is the S-Cross SZ-T, keyless operation, front and rear sensors, from £20,749, also with a one litre engine and available with front or all-wheel-drive (£1,800) or automatic gears (£1,350). A 1.6 diesel rated at 118bhp and 68.8mpg, with front wheel drive, is offered for a £1,500 premium over petrol.

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Topping the range is the SZ5, standard with 4WD, offered with a 138bhp 1.4 petrol engine at £24,749. Automatic gears and the diesel engine are options. It has a full-length glass roof with an opening front portion. The seats are leather, heated in the front.

The Suzuki S-Cross is the ideal all-year estate car for hill folk.

Tested here is the SZ5 1.4 with manual gears, rated at 50.4mpg and 127g CO2. Its real life economy was good, recording 46mpg on a long motorway and cross-country drive. The 0-62mph time of 10.2 seconds is adequate.

The A word sums it up. It’s a mid-size five-door with some attitude but facing bother from the likes of the Jeep Renegade, VW T-Roc, SEAT Arona et al. It didn’t super excite me but then I can imagine settling into an S-Cross existence. The 4x4 system is a bonus. If there’s no front wheel slippage then the 4x4 does not engage. A rotary selector sets the system for sport, snow, automatic engagement, or locks up the transmission for more slippery moments.

We noted excessive road noise, a poor ride over pitted roads, the small navigation screen. We liked the old-style hand brake. We didn’t like the “tinny” tailgate closure.

Verdict: Ideal all-year estate car for hill folk, with honest economy ratings. Save money: fit four-season tyres on the front wheel drive model. Made in Hungary.

The Suzuki S-Cross is the ideal all-year estate car for hill folk.

Suzuki’s Swift has been an influencer for the brand. The chunky five-door hatchback is a size down from the S-Cross, three inches narrower in the cabin. It is an alternative to Polo, Fiesta, Corsa, Rio etc. The old Swift looked funkier and youthful. The latest grown-up design, though less distinctive, still stands out, particularly with a contrasting roof. Its designation 1.0 SZ5 SHVS Boosterjet translates to the three-cylinder, 998cc, 110bhp petrol with mild hybrid technology in the top trim level. Cost: £15,499.

This Japanese-built supermini would make a decent family car. The absence of a spare wheel gives a deep boot and the brochure’s combined mpg of 65.7 need not be far off the real-life figures. My regular commute route recorded 55mpg while another, faster-moving “Sunday run” recorded 60mpg. An eight-mile round trip to town showed 51mpg.

The hybrid system incorporates a small electric motor and lithium battery which gives a mild boost when accelerating. The 0-62mph time is 10.6 seconds.

The interior seats four reasonably. The control area includes the central flat screen info display from the S-Cross. The input locks-up on the move, a safety measure to avoid distraction but meaning your passenger can’t operate it either.

On a cold morning when you start up you may see the advice “ice possible drive with care”. Other displays include information on torque and power delivery, acceleration and braking graphs and so on. These are of no consequence when driving and it can be distracting.

This Swift was enjoyable but let down by excessive road noise on a variety of surfaces and firm suspension which didn’t cope well with poor roads. On the motorway it settled down, running at a relaxed 2,600rpm at 70mph.

Prices for the range start at £11,999 for the 98g 1.2 SZ3 then jump to £13,999 for the 1.0 SZ-T. The range is completed with a 1.2SZ5 hybrid Allgrip 4x4 at £16,499 and a 6-speed automatic SZ-5 at £16,849.

My test car was pricey but well-equipped with things like automatic headlamp dipping, adaptive cruise control, climate control. If you like the Swift per se, then the cheapest, the 89bhp 1.2 SZ3, is worth looking at. It is quoted at 65.7mpg and 98g.

Verdict: Nice face, good economy, noisy at times.