It can often be quite fun to wring every last ounce of power from a small-capacity, low-output petrol engine, and we would usually use words like fizzy, nippy and playful to describe the shifting character of a frugal city runaround when you let it loose on twistier, emptier roads. It’s a shame, then, that such adjectives have little place in a discussion about the Swift’s propensity to excite.
Soldiering on with a naturally aspirated lump while its contemporaries (save the Mazda 2 and Fiat 500 Hybrid) flock en masse to turbochargers will heighten the Swift’s appeal in the eyes of a select few purists, but the driving experience does rather serve to highlight the benefits of boosting. Accelerator response is inhibitively lacklustre and a satisfying pace is achieved only by nudging the redline in every gear. This might serve to inject a hint of verve into otherwise ordinary driving situations were it not for the intrusive and none-too-enjoyable din emitted by the Dualjet motor.
It’s particularly noticeable on sliproads and during overtakes, and all the more so because a significant rise in decibels doesn’t necessarily arrive, frustratingly, alongside the speed increase you were hoping for. Even at a cruise, the engine reverberates through the cabin to the extent that the car feels like it’s working overtime to keep up with others, especially when faced with an incline.
A side-effect of this sluggishness is that your necessarily exuberant driving mannerisms will cancel out one of the Swift’s saving graces: efficiency. Suzuki claims an average of 51.7mpg, but we didn’t see more than 45mpg during a 100-mile mixed-road route, so heavy did our right foot become over the course of the journey. The front-wheel-drive manual car, by comparison, musters an official 57.2mpg, courtesy of its lighter drivetrain.
As you might expect, things are better in and around town, where the Swift’s still-diminutive stature and impressive manoeuvrability help it claw back some lost ground. The lack of straight-line gusto is less of an issue in this environment, and the sheer ease of use wrought by its compact form and array of driver aids earn it some much-needed green ticks.
It rides well, too, excepting the odd crash over larger obstacles, and the slightly raised driving position inspires confidence next to SUVs and buses. Were it not for the SZ5’s telescopic steering wheel adjustment, we might have found ourselves contorting into sharp turns, but there’s enough movement in the seat to get comfortable in lower-spec cars.