Used Suzuki Swift Hybrid long term test: report 1

Our Suzuki Swift hybrid four-wheel drive is a curious combination, but does that make it the perfect small car for all seasons? We have four months to find out...

Used Suzuki Swift Hybrid (17-present) long term test review

The car Suzuki Swift 1.2 SZ5 SHVS All Grip Run by Max Adams, used cars reporter

Why it’s here To find out if this hybrid small car with four-wheel drive is a hidden used car gem

Needs to Prove its worth compared with more conventional small cars 

Mileage 2413 List price new (2019) £16,999 Price new with options £18,496 Value now £13,409 (trade price with no options) Options fitted: metallic paint £485, wheel arch extensions £449, side body mouldings £139, instrument panel trim - pearl white £119, front door trim - pearl white £250, floor mats £55 Test economy 52.6mpg Official economy 49.7mpg (WLTP) 

12 September - the used Suzuki Swift hybrid joins our fleet

I once shared a student house with a chap who would only ever eat one ingredient on his plate at any given time. This always struck me as an odd thing to do, since there’s a fair amount of pleasure to be had in mixing well-paired flavours together, and I can’t be the only one to subscribe to this thinking, otherwise we wouldn’t have so many celebrity chefs telling us which fresh herbs and spices go best with even the most basic of ingredients.

Then again, the used car market can be every bit as adventurous as my former flatmate, with the top-selling Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa both very conventional small cars. This strikes me as a shame, because there are all sorts of potentially quirkier flavours of used car out there which are available the same sort of money. Take my Suzuki Swift. On the face of it, it’s just a rather cute small car, but if you dig a little bit deeper beneath the skin of the one I’m running, you’ll find that it also offers four-wheel drive and hybrid technology.

Used Suzuki Swift Hybrid (17-present) long term test review

Hybrid tech is normally associated with bigger cars, because all the gubbins that goes with having an engine, a fuel tank, a battery pack and an electric motor generally fits more easily in something large. However, the little Suzuki has a 12-volt mild-hybrid system that’s more compact than most traditional systems, yet still yields economy benefits over the regular Swift.

The present Suzuki Swift came out back in 2017, and in order to get a hybrid version, you had to fork out extra for the top-spec SZ5 trim with all the goodies. In this example, I’ve got sat-nav to go with the 7.0in touchscreen, climate control, adaptive cruise control, electric folding mirrors, LED headlights with adaptive high-beam assist and a suite of additional safety tech, such as automatic emergency braking and lane departure warning.

You did get a choice when it came to engines, though. There was a turbocharged 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol producing 109bhp, or the slower 89bhp 1.2-litre four-cylinder petrol that I have in mine. So, why did I choose the slower version? Because it’s this that gets part-time four-wheel-drive.

Used Suzuki Swift Hybrid (17-present) long term test review

Having had the pleasure of taking part in our recent off-road mega-test, I know this Swift probably won’t get me across the Serengeti because it doesn’t have the necessary ground clearance or wheel articulation – the latter being vital for keeping the tyres in contact with the ground as much as possible – but it should prove its worth when setting off in slippery conditions and tackling the odd dirt road.

That’s why I thought it would be a good idea to christen my latest car with a trip down Chalkpit lane close to the Goodwood estate. It's a relatively short track that’s best tackled in stages; the top third near the car park is easy enough, but it’s the middle third that will catch most cars out. If you don’t have plenty of air between the ground and the bottom of the car, don’t bother: ground clearance is key.

Used Suzuki Swift Hybrid (17-present) long term test review

I therefore stuck with the lower third, and here the Suzuki Swift proved to be delightfully fleet of foot and skipped along the stoney path with no fuss. However, it didn’t actually need to engage drive to the rear wheels at any point, so I’ll have to find another way to try the four-wheel drive system out. 

All-in-all, I’m rather pleased with this small car and its fusion of different flavours at this early stage. With winter approaching and the fears of a rise in fuel costs looming, the little Swift could a smart – as well as an unconventional – choice.

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