Suzuki Swift driven

* Cute looks and affordable * weedy engine and drab interior, though * On sale September, from £10,000(est)...

Suzuki Swift driven

Suzuki hasn't exactly been swift in making changes to its smart-driving little supermini. This is the Swifts first major overhaul since it was originally launched back in 2005.

Granted, the overhaul doesn't look all that major at first glance bar a few tweaks and tucks, the styling looks very similar to the old cars. Don't be fooled, though - the changes are more extensive than they first appear.

For starters, the Swift is now bigger than it was. Its a shade wider, slightly longer, and theres a little more distance between the front and rear axles. This longer wheelbase means a fraction more legroom, but its still not the roomiest of superminis, especially if you're confined to the back seats.

The cabin wont blow you away on the quality front, either: the interior plastics are more substantial and hard-wearing than the old cars, but they have a rougher finish that makes them less appealing to the eyes and the fingertips.

Still entertaining

Still, at least the Swifts entertaining driving manners havent been lost. It grips strongly and body movements are really well controlled, so it changes direction quickly and crisply. Sure, the steering could do with more weight and more feel, but that doesn't discourage you from having your fun. The ride does have a distinctly firm edge, though, and refinement isnt great either.

Wind- and road noise play their part in that, but the biggest culprit is the new 93bhp 1.2-litre petrol engine. It feels desperately sluggish at the bottom of the rev range, so you have to really thrash it for any sort of meaningful acceleration. It drones away annoyingly at 70mph, too, so you never get a break from the noise.

The new engine definitely has its advantages, though, namely that it brings running costs right down. The Swift was always one of the grubbier cars in the class, but it now has a CO2 output of 116g/km and an average fuel consumption of 56.5mpg. Not bad.

Come next year, the Swift will also be offered with a 1.3-litre diesel engine. It has only 78bhp, but with much more pulling power available at much lower revs, it feels a lot perkier than the outgoing diesel. Its not the quietest engine of its type, but its much quieter than the petrol, and it averages 67.3mpg.

Expect it to be value for money

Prices and equipment levels havent been announced yet, but value for money has always been central to the Swifts appeal, so both are likely to be very competitive indeed. All will come with lashings of safety kit, too, including stability control and seven airbags.

What Car? says

Still charming and good to drive, and now cheaper to run