Suzuki has launched its all-new Swift at the Geneva motor show, sure to provide hot competition for Ford's equally new Fiesta in an already packed supermini segment.
Available as a five-door car only, the new Swift gets a choice of 1.2-litre naturally aspirated and 1-litre three-cylinder turbocharged powerplants, the latter sold under the firm's 'Boosterjet' banner. A mild hybrid system will also be available, helping the Swift return economy figures on-par with its rivals.
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The four-cylinder 1.2 makes 89bhp and already offers up to 65.7mpg, while the Boosterjet will be the highest-performing model in the range for the time being, with 109bhp and 125lb ft of torque between 2000-3500rpm.
The SHVS hybrid model uses an integrated starter generator to both start and stop the engine, and recuperate energy under deceleration. Available on the Boosterjet 1.0, it's even more economical than the 1.2, which gets its own unique option: all-wheel drive.
So far, so worthy, but our sister title Auto Express reports that a Swift Sport will also be on the way in 2018, using a derivative of the 138bhp, 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder like that currently found in Suzuki’s Vitara S.
That’s good news indeed – the existing Swift Sport, while now long in the tooth compared to most rivals, still delivers a fantastic driving experience, and is one of very few such cars still available with a naturally-aspirated engine, providing a vestigial link to how hot hatchbacks used to be before the current trend for turbocharging.
Of course, the new model will change that, but it should prove beneficial for performance and the existing model shows someone at Suzuki still knows how to tune a chassis too. Suzuki says the new model has been developed on European roads, though it will still be made in Japan for the European market.
All Swifts are lighter than their predecessors. The body-in-white alone is 30kg lighter and some individual models are up to 120kg less than the cars they replace, rendering the most basic Swift an 890kg car - among the lighter vehicles currently on the roads.
Unusually, the Swift is also a touch shorter than before (by 10mm) though its wheelbase has grown by 20mm, while it's both 15mm lower and 40mm wider, giving the car a sportier stance than before and promising good things for the eventual Sport. European versions even have a marginally wider track than those for the Suzuki's home market.
There are big changes inside too, where the last model was perhaps most showing its age. It's not quite on the touchy-feely level of certain German models but the design looks neat and simple, with a sporty three-spoke steering wheel and logically-arranged layout. Top models get kit including a digital multifunction display in the instrument cluster, automatic emergency braking and satellite navigation.
Of course there’s also new styling, which doesn’t look dissimilar from the outgoing model, but updates it where necessary. And it can’t just be us that sees more than a hint of Jaguar F-type in the grille and headlights…
Pricing information will be available in May and UK sales begin this June. If Suzuki can keep pricing of the eventual Sport around the current £14,399, it should be a bargain too – and make the upcoming VW Up GTI and existing Renault Twingo GT significantly less tempting.