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Suzuki Swift 2005 Review

With the revision of the Swift nameplate Suzuki has gone back to a time when the company was a major player in the cheap and cheerful playground.

More importantly, the product it has stuck the name on is one that is going to surprise more than a few with its character.

Recent experiences with Suzuki – the Vitara V6 being the exception – have not always been uplifting. The Ignis was forgettable, the Liana inoffensive at best.

It was with some degree of anticipation that the Swift's time in the test garage was settled. Reports, both local and overseas, had been favourable. They were right. There is much to like about this little car. It is sometimes difficult to quantify what individual elements best combine to produce a successful whole. The Swift is a case in point.

Item by item the Swift doesn't produce much that is a standout – it's all pretty good but generally on a par with others in the segment. Stylistically it is very much in the cute box mould. A strong front styling gives it presence and a squarish body allows for comfortable interior space.

For a $15,990 car the standard fittings are impressive. Swift comes with dual front airbags, ABS brakes, a six-speaker in-dash CD stereo with steering wheel-mounted controls, airconditioning, height-adjustable seatbelts and driver's seat, electric mirrors and windows, power steering and remote central locking. The test car was fitted with the "S pack" which, for $2000, adds side and curtain airbags, alloys and foglights.

However, it is not just the list of what is in the car that impresses but the thought that has gone into the little extras.

A knick-knack tray under the passenger seat is perfect to keep odds and ends out of sight. The inclusion of a pressure pad release for the rear hatch is a touch of class missing from many far more expensive models.

The feeling of batting above its position in life continues in the interior of the Swift.

A distinct feeling of being in more prestigious surroundings persists with well-designed, quality-feel controls and comfortable, supportive seating.

Pleasant surprises keep coming with the Swift's behaviour on the road.

Impressively solid and grounded, the Swift suffers only from a slightly choppy ride at low speeds but when up and rolling the ride is stable and comfortable.

The manual box is light and surprisingly precise (for its class) but the clutch is too light and the uptake too high up in the travel.

A substantial feel to the steering wheel is in keeping with the quality feedback the front-driver provides. Turn-in is precise without being sharp but the chassis offers impressive stability under load.

Don't be put off by the fact the Swift has drum rear brakes. Coupled to an effective ABS system the disc front/drum rear set-up works strongly and offers good pedal feel. Raw figures – 74kW@6000rpm and 134Nm@4000rpm – don't do the Swift's performance justice.

The manual option definitely works best with the 1.5-litre engine, which spins up willingly and when held at the higher end of the rev range (anything over 3200rpm keeps the pot stirred) can be a lot of fun.

In automatic trim, the Swift can struggle to get off the line, particularly with four passengers on board, but finds its legs when it's up and moving. Fuel economy is good rather than frugal. The manual on test averaged in at 9.3l/100km – mainly around town and certainly skewed slightly towards the thirsty side by the amount of fun being had with the gearbox. Suzuki claims 9.0l/100km about town and 5.9l/100km on the open road.

Can't wait for the GTi.

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Range and Specs

(base) 1.5L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $2,400 – 4,070 2005 Suzuki Swift 2005 (base) Pricing and Specs
S 1.5L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $2,400 – 4,070 2005 Suzuki Swift 2005 S Pricing and Specs