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To the race the Swift.

Byline: PETER KEENAN

THE Suzuki Swift offers something that is priceless when it comes to persuading people to buy a new car - the feelgood factor.

One glance at the exterior tells you that fun times are just around the corner - appropriate really as the Swift treats bends as a good excuse to show off.

It is a handsome supermini with crisp lines and an excellent paint finish outside matched by an equally impressive interior.

I found a decent driving position behind the wheel easy to find thanks to the adjustable seat which was comfortable and supportive.

The dashboard is stylish, well laid out and the controls simple to use. The Swift puts few if any obstacles in the way of getting started and you immediately feel at home in surprisingly spacious surroundings that benefit from the use of high-quality materials.

The air conditioning in the car was efficient, ensuring a nice atmosphere in a cabin that also provides plenty of head, leg and shoulder room both front and back.

The doors open wide, providing easy access to the car while there are plenty of cup holders and cubby holes that make it a practical choice for a family runabout.

One downside though is the boot which is small - even for a supermini - with the rear seats in place. This impacts on the Swift's practicality for weekend trips away and its ability to handle the weekly shopping from the supermarket. The situation is helped by rear seats that split and fold 60/40, and tumble forward behind the front seats to boost load capacity - but you have to lose a couple of passengers to achieve the extra space.

While we're dealing with the car's negatives, I found the brakes were a bit soft and it took a firm press on the brake pedal to ensure the car would stop in time.

That said the Swift earns top marks for safety equipment with even entry-level models fitted with twin front, side and curtain airbags.

The GLX model comes with keyless entry and ignition. With this system there is no fumbling to insert a key in the lock or press a remote. All you need to do is have the key on your person and press the small black button on the door handle to gain entry. Once inside the car, the ignition barrel can simply be twisted to start and stop the engine. Once parked, pressing the door handle button once locks and immobilises the car.

Once you've started the Swift, the healthy burble from the 1.5-litre petrol engine promises much and doesn't disappoint taking the supermini from 0-62mph in 10 seconds on its way to a top speed of 115mph. The Swift offers the happy combination of being nippy around town and a decent cruiser when it comes to long journeys on the motorway.

But the real joy comes when the Swift encounters some tight and twisting country lanes. The sporty chassis combines great levels of grip with the handling characteristics of a jet fighter, although some larger bumps do make their presence felt in the cabin.

It is obvious that a lot of care and attention has gone into the design and construction of the Swift. What is also clear is Suzuki's determination to make its supermini pricecompetitive. This particular car comes in at a shade over pounds 10,000, but boasts an equipment list that should be the preserve of a more expensive car.

As well as keyless entry and air conditioning, the GLX has alloy wheels plus the entry-level GL model's CD-playing stereo, power steering and electric front windows. Step up to the top of the range Sport model and climate control, stability control and an MP3-ready sound system are added to the tasty recipe. Put this together with the eyecatching good looks, decent interior and excellent driving dynamics and the Swift represents a pretty formidable player in the supermini marketplace.

Facts and figures Suzuki Swift 1.5 GLX Price: pounds 10,250 Mechanical: 101bhp, 1490cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 5-speed manual gearbox 0-62mph: 10 seconds Max speed: 115mph Combined mpg: 46.3 Insurance group: 6 CO2 emissions: 145g/km BiK rating: 17% Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles

CAPTION(S):

IT'S A GAS - Fun times are here with the feelgood Suzuki Swift
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Oct 21, 2009
Words:718
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