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Byline: Malcolm Robertshaw

IN recent times the Suzuki Swift has justifiably earned a reputation as a good looker and classy performer.

Worldwide sales have proved its popularity, with more than 1.65 million sold since May, 2005, including some 55,000 UK owners.

Built in Hungary, the latest member of the Suzuki Swift family began to arrive in the UK last September with some extensive use of higher strength steel making the new bodyshell both stiffer yet more lightweight.

This third generation Swift also comes with sharper styling, impact safety, fine handling and driving performance while improved fuel consumption and significantly lower emissions also add to its attraction.

This all-new three and five-door Swift is Suzuki's latest "world strategic model" and viewed from any angle this newcomer is a strikingly attractive head turner. Despite increased dimensions all round, the Swift has retained the handsome looks of its predecessor and added to.

Here is styling that says this Swift is dynamic and energetic thanks to its stronger sense of agility and improved stability thanks to newly refined wide-tracking and a shorter wheelbase.

Along with some enhanced performance and keen handling, courtesy of newly developed and responsive power steering and increased rear suspension firmness, the Swift revels in a road-hugging profile that reflects in even greater driver confidence.

Compact dimensions gel nicely with roominess and comfort in a quiet cabin that has been well thought-out, its new black and silver design reflecting a sportier, more refined ambience.

The dashboard features a stylish black keytone colour with sharp silver-coloured detailing while the straightforward layout look to the fascia and the fourdial instrument binnacle is simply effective.

Unfortunately, the boot is perhaps more your weekend away carrier with its 211 litres of stowage space calling for occupants to travel light. However, the rear seats do fold 60:40 and painlessly tumble forward to boost load capacity to 528 litres.

There's plenty of headroom up front and comfy and supportive front seats, while the driving position benefits from rake and reach setting for the steering wheel.

Powered by a 1.2-litre petrol engine paired with five-speed manual gearbox on the road the Suzuki Swift handles well, its mature sportiness helping to deliver a strong sense of agility with plenty of driver.

The Swift delivers some decent amounts of grip and, with torsional movement well under control, there is a pretty good ride to enjoy, although contact with larger potholes can certainly make its presence felt cabinside.

Build quality both inside and out is of a high order and there is a decent level of standard kit, the likes of front electric windows, heated and folding door mirrors, sixspeaker sound system with audio controls on steering wheel, remote central door locking, ABS braking with electronic brake distribution and even a very competent traction control electronic stability programme all coming as standard at entry level.

The range-topping SZ4 grade model adds automatic air con, front fogs, push button start, cruise control, automatic headlamps and Bluetooth connectivity.

And with the promise of 56.5mpg overall and emissions of 116g/km resulting in vehicle excise duty of just pounds 30 a year, the Swift is economical to run.

FAST FACTS Suzuki Swift SZ4 Price: pounds 12,245 Mechanical: 93bhp, 1,242cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 5-speed manual gearbox Max speed: 103mph 0-62mph: 12.3 seconds Combined mpg: 56.5 Insurance group: 9 CO2 emissions: 116g/km BiK rating: 15% Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Apr 3, 2011

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