As a part-time (and sadly unpaid) taxi driver to my three kids, I’ve always considered space the easiest way of maintaining peace and quiet in the car. The bigger the ride, the less chance they have of annoying each other (that's the peace part). And even if they do, there's always the chance the driver's seat will be far enough away that I won't notice (that's the quiet part).

Increasingly, though, what looks small on the outside can feel unexpectedly large once inside. And the modern hatchback is a great example. 

For this Weekend Test, I was thrown the keys to the 2018 Suzuki Swift GLX Turbo. Priced at $22,990 (that's drive-away pricing) the GLX Turbo sits at the top of the four-strong range, way above the cheap-as-chips GL ($16,990 drive-away). 

Despite bolder styling - including a new, vaguely catfish-styled front end and bigger, bolder wheel arches - its lineage as a Swift is unmistakable. There are big changes underneath, too, with a new platform, engine, technology and safety gear.

So does this grown-up Swift still retain a sense of fun? And more importantly, does it have the space to handle three kids (all under 11) crammed into it for the weekend?  

Saturday 

Developed from a blank sheet, this third-generation Swift is 45kg lighter (weighing in at a dainty 875kg).

Our test car was dressed in a Speedy Blue paint job and was sitting on shiny 16-inch alloy wheels, and my first impression was that this car look both small and sporty. The Turbo label on the rear provided a further hint at its performance potential - though if I'm honest, I wasn’t exactly holding my breath.

Our test car was dressed in a Speedy Blue paint job and was sitting on shiny 16-inch alloy wheels. (image credit: Dan Pugh) Our test car was dressed in a Speedy Blue paint job and was sitting on shiny 16-inch alloy wheels. (image credit: Dan Pugh)

All that aside, I was also sceptical as to how it would cope with the four of us. After the usual arguments with my kids over who sits in the front seat, we piled in to discover a surprising amount of space inside. The Swift might be small - at 3.8m long, 1.7m wide and 1.5m high - yet somehow Suzuki has managed to squeeze impressive amounts of space in the cabin.

First destination on the day’s schedule was my daughter’s dance rehearsal at 9am, with the hour-long drive providing an opportune time to familiarise ourselves with the GLX Turbo. 

At this price point it's a good idea to slightly curb expectations when it comes to fit and finish. The cabin, for example, is rudimentary in design with hard plastics used throughout. Nevertheless, it was something I was happy to forgive it for. 

The cabin, is rudimentary in design with hard plastics used throughout. (image credit: Dan Pugh) The cabin, is rudimentary in design with hard plastics used throughout. (image credit: Dan Pugh)

A rear door handle (kerb side) that required superhuman strength to pry open, on the other hand, was a major foible I was decidedly less forgiving about, as it meant the kids climbing into the back seat from the street-side door for the duration of the test. It was a problem I'm sure was unique to our test car, but it did raise questions about durability.

Once in the back seat the kids were treated to plenty of space, with a single cup holder to fight over, the loser having to make do with a bottle holder (one in each door). I tested the rear seat space (I’m 180cm) and there was leg and head room to spare. For parents with younger kids, there are two Isofix attachment points and three tether points across the back.  

There are plenty of space in the back of the Swift for kids. (image credit: Dan Pugh) There are plenty of space in the back of the Swift for kids. (image credit: Dan Pugh)

Front-seat riders share two cupholders, located in the centre console adjacent to a little nook containing a 12-volt power source and USB connection point. Front doors come armed with a bottle holder each. 

Pride of place on the dash is the Apple CarPlay/Android Auto-equipped seven-inch touch display which controls the standard sat nav and audio functions. It's a straight-forward unit that's easy to read and use. 

We finished the day off with a trip to a museum in Sydney's CBD. The car’s small dimensions meant searching for a parking spot was stress free, with plenty of potential spaces on offer. Exceptional visibility from the driver’s seat coupled with a reversing camera more than compensated for the absence of parking sensors. 

Sunday 

With the seats up there is 242-litres of boot space. (image credit: Dan Pugh) With the seats up there is 242-litres of boot space. (image credit: Dan Pugh)

The Swift was on light duties today, with only a family lunch to taxi us all to. After stuffing the kids' luggage into the 242-litre boot (seats up), we set off. 

Powered by Suzuki’s three-cylinder 'Boosterjet' engine, this tiny one-litre turbocharged unit produces 82kW at 5500rpm and 160Nm at 1500rpm - enough to propel the GLX Turbo from zero to 100km/h in a smidge over 10 seconds.

The three-cylinder 'Boosterjet' engine, produces 82kW/160Nm. (image credit: Dan Pugh) The three-cylinder 'Boosterjet' engine, produces 82kW/160Nm. (image credit: Dan Pugh)

The combination of its featherweight status and an intuitive six-speed automatic make the Swift feel agile and nippy. Hill climbs did little to dampen the Swift’s enthusiasm, even fully loaded with the four us on board and the air-conditioning dialled up to the max. 

Steering is light and relatively direct and the car felt planted around corners. The suspension did an adequate job of soaking up most of the suburban road surfaces, with the rear suspension providing a noticeably harder ride over speed humps.  

Recently rated five stars by ANCAP, the GLX Turbo comes armed with a heap of standard safety kit with front, front-side and curtain airbags joined by ABS brakes and traction aids. Sitting at the top of the range, it also has AEB, Lane Departure Warning and adaptive cruise control

At the end of the weekend test, the Swift’s trip computer showed 5.9 litres per 100km, with around 300kms of driving covered. Slightly more than Suzuki’s claimed 5.1 litres per 100km for the combined figure. Having taxied the four of us around for the weekend, though, those are fuel consumption figures I can live with.  

Looking past the Swift's fit and finish shortcomings I quickly came to appreciate its road manners, with the little Suzuki proving itself incredibly capable at tackling suburban and city driving - a place where being small definitely has its advantages.