Browse over 9,000 car reviews

Suzuki Swift 2023 review: GL S Plus

Suzuki’s traditionally followed its own path when it comes to design. (image: James Cleary)

Daily driver score

3.7/5

Urban score

3.7/5

Your preference is for a conventional car because SUVs don't do it for you. It needs to be small because the urban jungle is your natural habitat. The budget is set at 'around' $25K. And an economical combustion engine is the best bet, because charging an EV at home or elsewhere isn't on the cards at this point.

The good news is there are numerous choices out there from Japan, South Korea, and Europe. And one that hits the brief bang-on is a long-standing Aussie favourite from small car specialist, Suzuki.

The Swift hatch slips naturally into the urban landscape, and we spent a week with a mid-spec version to see how it measures up in terms of value, economy, cost of ownership, utility and driving performance.

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

The Swift GL S Plus wears a sticker price of $25,990, before on-road costs, sitting at the upper edge of the 'affordable' small car market, and aiming up at the likes of Kia's Rio GT-Line ($25,590), the Mazda2 G15 GT ($26,290), and the VW Polo Life (manual - $25,250).

It comes with16-inch alloys. (image: James Cleary) It comes with16-inch alloys. (image: James Cleary)

Worth noting the car Suzuki Australia loaned us for evaluation is a pre-Feb 2022 update example conforming to the previous Swift GL Navigator (with Safety Pack) specification. So, key upgrades arriving with that change, like a 9.0-inch media screen (up from 7.0-inch), climate control air, four-speaker audio (up from two!), adaptive cruise, and LED headlights, aren't reflected.

But assuming the presence of those features, this city-sized hatch does pretty well with some other handy boxes ticked. Aside from the safety tech covered later, the GL S Plus boasts a leather-trimmed steering wheel, keyless entry and start, sat nav, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity (plus voice control for key functions), and 16-inch alloys. All up, decent value-for-money in this part of the new car market.

The Swift GL S Plus wears a sticker price of $25,990, before on-road costs. (image: James Cleary) The Swift GL S Plus wears a sticker price of $25,990, before on-road costs. (image: James Cleary)

Is there anything interesting about its design?

Suzuki's traditionally followed its own path when it comes to design, and where other current small cars are increasingly a mix of sharp angles and geometric surfaces, the Swift's exterior is a blend of relatively soft forms and rounded intersections.

The headlights and tail-lights are large irregular shapes, and the distinctive side glass treatment tapers towards the rear, the smaller back windows ending in a vertical door handle and a narrow black graphic element which wraps around the C-pillar to the hatch window.

Where other current small cars are increasingly a mix of sharp angles and geometric surfaces, the Swift’s exterior is a blend of relatively soft forms and rounded intersections. (image: James Cleary) Where other current small cars are increasingly a mix of sharp angles and geometric surfaces, the Swift’s exterior is a blend of relatively soft forms and rounded intersections. (image: James Cleary)

Note to Suzuki designers: The high-set handles may add visual interest, but they're a pain to use.

Interior styling offers a hint that despite upgrades and facelifts along the way this generation of the Swift is now five years old.

The approach is straight bat, with a multi-tiered dash design accommodating conventional analogue dials in a vaguely racy 'twin-peaked' instrument cluster, the multimedia display in the centre stack and ventilation controls underneath that.

Note to Suzuki designers: The high-set handles may add visual interest, but they’re a pain to use. (image: James Cleary) Note to Suzuki designers: The high-set handles may add visual interest, but they’re a pain to use. (image: James Cleary)

Other age-related giveaways are the manual handbrake and uniformly grey colour palette. The only breaks being occasional flashes of faux metal trim and shiny back inserts.

It all works well from an ergonomic point-of-view but lacks inspiration and emotional impact.

The approach to interior styling is straight bat, with a multi-tiered dash design. (image: James Cleary) The approach to interior styling is straight bat, with a multi-tiered dash design. (image: James Cleary)

How practical is the space inside?

Measuring a bit over 3.8m nose-to-tail, and roughly 1.7m across, the Swift is perfectly proportioned for the urban environment. And with an overall height of just under 1.5m and a 2.45m wheelbase it maximises the packaging potential for passengers within such a compact footprint.

Interior accommodation is good, with plenty of space up front, and in the back. At 183cm I was able to sit behind the driver's seat set to my position with a surprising amount of head and legroom.

Three full-size adults across the rear seat would be an uncomfortably cosy arrangement, even on short trips. But a trio of up to early teenage kids will be fine.

  • Other age-related giveaways are the manual handbrake and uniformly grey colour palette. (image: James Cleary) Other age-related giveaways are the manual handbrake and uniformly grey colour palette. (image: James Cleary)
  • Measuring a bit over 3.8m nose-to-tail, and roughly 1.7m across, the Swift is perfectly proportioned for the urban environment. (image: James Cleary) Measuring a bit over 3.8m nose-to-tail, and roughly 1.7m across, the Swift is perfectly proportioned for the urban environment. (image: James Cleary)
  • Interior accommodation is good, with plenty of space up front, and in the back. (image: James Cleary) Interior accommodation is good, with plenty of space up front, and in the back. (image: James Cleary)

Seating negatives amount to something of an armrest rant. Specifically, the lack of a front centre armrest, front door armrests that are unreasonably hard, and omission of a fold-down rear centre armrest.

When it comes to storage, there's a reasonably generous glove box in the front, plus bins and a bottle holder in each door, as well as two cupholders and an oddments tray in the centre console.

Those consigned to the rear have to contend with a close to bare-bones layout, with a single cupholder (located at the rear of the front centre console), a bottle holder in each door, and a single map pocket on the back of the front passenger seat.

No adjustable ventilation, again, no fold-down centre armrest, and no USB or 12-volt power outlets. In fact, the only connections available are a 12V socket, USB-A media and charging outlet and a 3.5mm 'aux-in' jack, all in the front console. The kids won't be thrilled.

  • Boot space is passable rather than spectacular for the class with 242 litres on offer. (image: James Cleary) Boot space is passable rather than spectacular for the class with 242 litres on offer. (image: James Cleary)
  • The (admittedly big) CarsGuide pram wouldn’t fit. (image: James Cleary) The (admittedly big) CarsGuide pram wouldn’t fit. (image: James Cleary)
  • We could only squeeze in the small (36L) and medium (95L) suitcases from our three-piece test set without removing the cargo cover. (image: James Cleary) We could only squeeze in the small (36L) and medium (95L) suitcases from our three-piece test set without removing the cargo cover. (image: James Cleary)

Boot space is passable rather than spectacular for the class (so that's where the rear seat room comes from...) with 242 litres on offer.

As our photos show, the (admittedly big) CarsGuide pram wouldn't fit, and we could only squeeze in the small (36L) and medium (95L) suitcases from our three-piece test set without removing the cargo cover. Fold the 60/40 split-folding rear seat down and available space opens up to 556 litres.

Worth noting there aren't any tie-down hooks to secure loose loads, and there's a space-saver spare under the floor.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

The Swift GL is powered by a 1.2-litre, naturally aspirated, four-cylinder petrol engine, driving the front wheels through a continuously variable auto transmission.

Featuring dual variable valve timing to enhance performance, and two fuel injectors for each cylinder (in the name of better fuel atomisation and efficiency), the all-alloy unit produces 66kW at 6000rpm and 120Nm at 4400rpm.

The Swift GL is powered by a 1.2-litre, naturally aspirated, four-cylinder petrol engine. (image: James Cleary) The Swift GL is powered by a 1.2-litre, naturally aspirated, four-cylinder petrol engine. (image: James Cleary)

How much fuel does it consume?

Suzuki's official fuel economy number for the combined (ADR 81/02 - urban, extra-urban) cycle is 4.8L/100km, the 1.2-litre four emitting 110g/km of CO2 in the process.

Our time with the car included mainly city and suburban trips, with some freeway freeway running thrown in, and the result was a (dash-indicated) average of 5.8L/100km. Still pretty handy.

Minimum fuel recommendation is 91 RON standard unleaded (or E10), and you'll need just 37 litres of it to fill the tank. Using the official consumption figure, that translates to a range of around 640km.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

All Swift GL variants scored a maximum five-star ANCAP score when the current-gen car launched locally in mid-2017, with the assessment updated in July 2020.

Active, crash-avoidance tech includes, AEB (urban and highway speed) with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, 'Weaving Alert' (Suzuki's take on drowsy driver detection), blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, rear parking sensors, and a reversing camera.

If, despite all that, a crash is unavoidable the airbag count runs to six (front, front side, and side curtain), plus there are three top tethers for child seats/baby capsules across the rear row, with ISOFIX anchors on the two outer positions.

All Swift GL variants scored a maximum five-star ANCAP score. (image: James Cleary) All Swift GL variants scored a maximum five-star ANCAP score. (image: James Cleary)

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

Suzuki covers the Swift with a five year/unlimited km warranty, which is cost-of-entry now in the mainstream market. Roadside assistance is renewed annually for up to five years if the car is serviced at an authorised Suzuki dealer.

Speaking of which, service is scheduled for 12 month/15,000km intervals, with costs capped for five years/100,000km. The average annual figure over that period is $293, which is competitive in the small car class.

Suzuki covers the Swift with a five year/unlimited km warranty. (image: James Cleary) Suzuki covers the Swift with a five year/unlimited km warranty. (image: James Cleary)

What's it like to drive around town?

Sure, 900kg isn't a lot of kerb weight, but 66 isn't a lot of kilowatts, and 120 isn't a lot of newton metres. In short, this little car is far from a powerhouse.

It takes a strong and persistent flex of the right ankle to get the Swift GL moving adequately, the CVT auto shuffling itself around to keep the 1.2-litre engine somewhere near its (relatively high) 4400rpm maximum torque sweet spot. Not ideal in dense, slow-moving traffic on tight streets.

If you're after more urgent acceleration in a Swift, the 1.0-litre, three-cylinder GLX Turbo is the better option. It'll hit 100km/h from rest in around 8.0 seconds while this car will take around 11 seconds. Only snag is the $29,790 (before on-road costs) price tag.

On top of the performance challenges, the ride is firm, the Swift's strut front / torsion beam rear suspension transferring a fair bit of bump and thump from our spectacularly ordinary city and suburban roads. This despite the 16-inch rims being shod with 185 width rubber boasting a normally comfort-enhancing 55-series sidewall profile.

Overall refinement is more than acceptable, though. Even while working hard, the engine remains reasonably quiet and outside noise from the urban grind is modest.

The steering delivers good road feel and the brakes (ventilated disc front / drum rear) are also nice and progressive.

No surprise, given the Swift's compact dimensions, that it's a breeze to park in tight spaces, the reversing camera remaining clear day and night.

The Suzuki Swift GL S Plus offers good value-for-money, strong safety, a competitive ownership package, miserly fuel economy, a surprisingly roomy interior and respectable overall refinement. That's offset somewhat by sluggish performance, a firm ride, sober interior, and a small boot (with the rear seats up). As always, the significance of these pluses and minuses depends on your specific priorities. But we reckon for a car well past mid-life it's still worthy of a spot on your small urban car short-list.

$23,988 - $38,840

Based on 474 car listings in the last 6 months

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Daily driver score

3.7/5

Urban score

3.7/5
Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.