What more can be said about the Suzuki Swift other than popular. The supermini is essentially everywhere you look and has been since it first rolled off the production line in 1983. It’s gone through four generations and numerous facelifts, been front and all wheel drive, modernised and awarded 5-stars for safety, been naturally aspirated and turbo’d and now it’s been electrified, albeit mildly. Yes the Swift has joined the EV world and Suzuki New Zealand gave us the keys to check it out.
Keys, yes keys, our top of the range two-tone limited model needed a key to start, where’s the push button? That’s not all, for those lucky enough to sit in the rear, the doors have these weird levers that when you wind them, the windows roll down – sure the wife may say that I live in the past but this brought my memories of the 80s flooding back.
The shape itself is timeless and one that’s been instantly recognisable since the early noughties although being a fourth generation facelift it’s curves are softer and eyes are brighter – self leveling projector LED to be more precise. As I said before, my model was the two-tone blue and black limited so door mirrors were body coloured (well black roof coloured) and there was plenty of matte black dotted around to contrast the metallic midnight blue.
The interior is awash with economical yet well thought out materials, essentially the majority of the most used areas, from the steering wheel to the radio’s volume button have a nice tactile feel about them, while the more expansive, less touched fixtures such as the dash, Suzuki has been more conservative with. The layout is clean and offers a more expansive feel for such a compact vehicle and the list of 5-Star ANCAP safety features and driver’s aids is impressive, everything from Lane Keep Assist and Adaptive Cruise, to weave alert and rear cross traffic.
Now the Swift’s hybridness (or so the badge on the rear says). In actual fact, this Swift is basically dipping its toe in the EV water by being more mild hybrid than hybrid. What it has is an electric motor called an Integrated Starter Generator (ISG) that works alongside the vehicle’s 1.2L 4 cylinder engine. It’s powered by a 10 Ah lithium-ion battery that is charged as the car decelerates and brakes and helps improve the supermini’s fuel efficiency. It takes the place of a starter motor at the lights (you know when the car appears to stall and starts when you take your foot off the brake) and when driving the battery helps power all of the additional electrical systems like safety features, air conditioning, Bluetooth and smartphone connectivity.
The result is a Swift that boasts 4.1L/100km and lowers C02 emissions to just 94g/km, way under the soon to be (2025) targeted 105g/km. Suzuki NZ’s website has a calculator that works out what this means in dollar terms, if fuel costs $2/litre, this new Swift will travel over 1200km on $100, so let’s say an average Kiwi commutes 40km per day, that’s over 1 month of travel or by my reckoning, less than half the price of a bus pass!
My time with the Swift Hybrid was spent checking out the parks and reserves north of Auckland which involved some country/out of town driving and I don’t believe that this is the best way to showcase this car. The 61kW of power and 107Nm of torque did little to excite me when climbing coast hugging hills but on the plus side, I seldom had to go for the brake when cornering thanks to the compact car’s stoic chassis. However, when back in its natural city environment, it’s more the Swift I know and love and it’s capacity to sip fuel rewards you with more time behind the wheel between fill ups.
My conclusion is this, the Suzuki New Zealand Swift Hybrid is the cheapest Hybrid on the market at the moment but it’s not adding to the vehicle’s performance or driving the wheels, so if you’re out for a ‘performance’ Swift then go for the Sport version. But, if economy and emissions are more your thing, then this new Suzuk-e mild-hybrid is sure to please.