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Suzuki Swift 2020 review: GL Navigator auto

The Swift has developed a cult following over the years.
EXPERT RATING
7.3
The Suzuki Swift has been making waves for years now, but with buyers increasingly turning towards SUVs, does this light hatch still hold appeal?

While there are fewer and fewer cheap and cheerful new cars on sale as the years go on, a few key models are hanging in there as the market shifts towards SUVs.

One such model is the Suzuki Swift. Instantly recognisable, the light hatch has developed a cult following of its own, ensuring it stays alive and well.

While there are fewer cheap and cheerful new cars on sale as the years go on. While there are fewer cheap and cheerful new cars on sale as the years go on.

So, how does the Swift stack up in 2020 as a cheap and cheerful car? We recently tested its entry-level GL Navigator variant to find out.

Suzuki Swift 2020: GL Navi (qld)
Safety rating
Engine Type1.2L
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency4.8L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$18,690

Is there anything interesting about its design?   7/10

The current Swift is definitely one of the better-looking light hatches, leaning on the cuteness of its two predecessors.

For one, the front fascia literally smiles at you! It’s a simple affair that’s punctuated by bulbous wings.

This chunky theme is also prevalent at the rear end, where the tail-lights pop out at you to create a distinctive look.

Our favourite part, though, is the slick integration of the rear door handles into the glasshouse. The extra design effort has definitely paid off.

The extra design effort has really paid off. The extra design effort has really paid off.

Inside, the Swift is about as appealing as a cheap and cheerful car can be. That means there isn’t a padded armrest or soft-touch plastic in sight, which makes it feel less than plush.

In fact, the best interior element is the steering wheel, which is trimmed in leather and has a flat bottom. Sporty, indeed.

The best interior element is the steering wheel. The best interior element is the steering wheel.

The dashboard is dominated by a 7.0-inch touchscreen, which is small by 2020 standards. And the multimedia system that powers it is even less impressive.

Thankfully, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support is standard, so be sure to plug your smartphone in!

A monochrome multi-function display is wedged between the old-school tachometer and speedometer, serving up the trip computer and not much else.

How practical is the space inside?   6/10

The Swift is small, even by light-hatch standards (3840mm long, 1735mm wide and 1495mm tall), and that means it doesn’t have the most accommodating second row or boot.

The Swift is small, even by light-hatch standards. The Swift is small, even by light-hatch standards.

Sitting on the flat rear bench isn’t exactly a pleasure. Behind my 184cm driving position, I have just enough headroom and legroom, with the former impacted by the Swift’s tapered roofline.

Needless to say, adults won’t enjoy the second row, but they’ll fare much better up front, where the bucket seats have decent side bolstering. And let’s not forget headroom is much better.

Needless to say, adults won’t enjoy the second row. Needless to say, adults won’t enjoy the second row.

The boot offers 242L of cargo capacity with the rear bench upright. Drop it and storage space increases to just 918L. Yep, the Swift is by no means a load lugger.

The boot offers 242L of cargo capacity with the rear bench upright. The boot offers 242L of cargo capacity with the rear bench upright.

Storage-wise, the driver and front passenger get two small cupholders in the centre console, and door bins that can accommodate two large bottles. There’s also a small space below the manual air-conditioning controls for knick-knacks but no central storage bin.

Storage space increases to just 918L with the second row down. Storage space increases to just 918L with the second row down.

Connectivity is handled by one USB-A port, one auxiliary input and one 12-volt power outlet, all of which are located at the bottom of the centre stack.

Rear occupants don’t get the same amenities. In fact, they’re only treated to small door bins and an even smaller storage space at the rear of the centre console, behind the traditional handbrake.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   7/10

The GL Navigator is priced from $17,690 plus on-road costs, which makes it one of the most affordable light hatches on the market.

At this end of the market, however, you can’t expect a long list of standard equipment. Even its key rivals, the Toyota Yaris and Kia Rio, don’t set the world on fire in this department.

That said, The GL Navigator comes with a space saver spare. The GL Navigator comes with a space saver spare. with daytime running lights, front fog lights, 16-inch alloy wheels, 185/55 tyres, a space-saver spare, power-adjustable side mirrors and rear privacy glass.

Inside, satellite navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, a two-speaker sound system, manually adjustable front seats, cloth upholstery and chrome trim feature.

 

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   7/10

The GL Navigator is motivated by a 1.2-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine, which produces a meagre 66kW of power at 6000rpm and 120Nm of torque at 4400rpm. Those looking for turbo punch will have to stretch to the 82kW/160Nm GLX Turbo ($22,990).

This atmo unit can be mated to either a six-speed manual or a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). The latter was fitted to our test car, incurring a $1000 premium.

As with all Swift variants, the GL Navigator exclusively sends drive to its front wheels.

The GL Navigator is motivated by a 1.2-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine. The GL Navigator is motivated by a 1.2-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine.

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

Suzuki claims the GL Navigator CVT consumes a frugal 4.8 litres of standard 91RON petrol per 100 kilometres on the combined-cycle test (ADR 81/02).

Our real-world testing returned a figure of 6.9L/100km. This was the result of a week that saw us spend more time driving in the city than on the highway.

Our real-world testing returned a fuel consumption figure of 6.9L/100km. Our real-world testing returned a fuel consumption figure of 6.9L/100km.

For reference, claimed carbon dioxide emissions are 110 grams per kilometre.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   8/10

ANCAP awarded the GL Navigator a five-star safety rating in 2017.

That said, it goes without advanced driver-assist systems. But thankfully, Suzuki offers a $1000 'Safety Pack', which fixes this problem.

Fitted to our test car, it bundles in autonomous emergency braking, lane-keep assist and adaptive cruise control, which help to bring it up to standard.

In fact, with the Safety Pack in tow, the GL Navigator has the most comprehensive safety of any cheap and cheerful car on sale here.

Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are notably absent, however.

Other safety equipment includes six airbags (dual front, side and curtain), electronic stability and traction control systems, two ISOFIX and three top-tether child-seat anchorage points, and a reversing camera.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

5 years / unlimited km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   8/10

As of October 2019, all Swift variants come with a competitive five-year/unlimited-kilometre factory warranty.

All Swift variants come with five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty. All Swift variants come with five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty.

At the same time, the GL Navigator’s service intervals were extended to every 12 months or 15,000km, whichever comes first.

A five-year/100,000km capped-price servicing plan also became available for the entry-level variant, costing an affordable $1465 to $1964 at the time of writing.

What's it like to drive?   8/10

The GL Navigator is a pretty decent drive. Thanks to its 900kg kerb weight, its 1.2-litre engine actually gets the job done, despite its modest outputs.

Given most Swifts are destined to do the city commute most days, even the model’s most lethargic unit does relatively well.

Where the 1.2-litre engine does get caught out, however, is on the open road, where it doesn’t have the overtaking ability you wish it did. And don’t get us started on steep hills…

The CVT is okay. Proper torque-converter automatic transmissions will always be our preference, but the gear-less set-up used here is inoffensive.

Typical of almost any CVT, engine speeds will increase and decrease all over the place. This can make for a noisy drive experience, even with careful management of the throttle and brakes.

As such, we'd suggest pocketing $1000 and opting for the six-speed manual instead. Not only does it make for a more involving drive, but a more consistent one, too.

The power steering has a variable ratio, which makes it feel razor sharp on turn-in. The power steering has a variable ratio, which makes it feel razor sharp on turn-in.

That said, the GL Navigator more than claws back respectability with its ride and handling balance, which should come as no surprise given Suzuki’s penchant for great hot hatches.

Its power steering has a variable ratio, which makes it feel razor sharp on turn-in. This chuck-ability puts smiles on faces when attacking a twisty road, where body roll is more than manageable.

In fact, steering is by far the GL Navigator’s best quality. While it helps that the wheel is well-weighted, most of the credit goes to the Swift’s diminutive dimensions, which make it so easy to guide into the right spot.

The suspension set-up is also a winner. The ride is superb around town and remains so until a poor road surface is stumbled upon, at which point the rear end can become unsettled – an unavoidable consequence of such a light weight.

The blame is, however, shared by the rear torsion beam suspension, which doesn’t perform as well as the much softer MacPherson struts up front.

Verdict

The Swift remains a great cheap and cheerful car in range-opening GL Navigator form. Sure, some rivals feel more special inside (we’re looking at you, Volkswagen Polo), while others look sportier (Rio) or are more affordable (Yaris), but the Swift’s charm cannot be denied.

Simply put, those wanting an all-rounder will be pleased by the GL Navigator’s talents, especially when its Safety Pack is optioned.

Pricing guides

$22,840
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)
Lowest Price
$16,690
Highest Price
$28,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
GL (qld) 1.2L, ULP, CVT AUTO $17,690 2020 Suzuki Swift 2020 GL (qld) Pricing and Specs
GL Navi 1.2L, ULP, CVT AUTO $18,690 2020 Suzuki Swift 2020 GL Navi Pricing and Specs
GL Navi (qld) 1.2L, ULP, CVT AUTO $18,690 2020 Suzuki Swift 2020 GL Navi (qld) Pricing and Specs
GL Navi AEB 1.2L, ULP, CVT AUTO $19,690 2020 Suzuki Swift 2020 GL Navi AEB Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.3
Design7
Practicality6
Price and features7
Engine & trans7
Fuel consumption7
Safety8
Ownership8
Driving8
Justin Hilliard
Deputy News Editor

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