Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
If your budget permits, it’s worth looking at the turbocharged 1.0-litre engine, badged ‘Boosterjet’. It produces 109bhp, but more importantly has plenty of low-down pulling power so you're not forever shifting gears to keep the engine in its sweet spot. This engine is available with an automatic gearbox that has manual shift paddles behind the steering wheel. A hybrid version of the Boosterjet badged SHVS with cheaper running costs is available, but it doesn't make much difference to the performance and is only available in the top trim level. The Swift Sport, which we’ve reviewed separately, gets a turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol engine.
The most affordable Swift engine is the 1.2-litre unit, which does without a turbocharger and is badged as ‘Dualjet’. It makes 89bhp, and so light is the Swift that this power is more than sufficient both around town and at motorway speeds, providing you make use of its revvy nature to get the best out of it – you can’t let the revs drop too far if you want to make smooth, confident progress when joining roundabouts or motorways. This engine comes with a manual gearbox exclusively, but you’ll like its light clutch and precise gearshift throw.
Suspension and ride comfort
Although you wouldn’t call the Swift downright uncomfortable, travel on the kind of decaying roads that are all too common in a typical British town and you’ll feel plenty of bumps jostling you around. This is true of the Allgrip model as well, even though it has slightly more ground clearance than other Swifts.
Things do improve as speed increases; motorway expansion joints don’t send too much of a thud through the car. What’s more, the larger 16in wheels fitted on higher trims don’t worsen the ride as much as larger wheels do on comparable rivals. If you value comfort, cars such as the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo can deal with patchy UK road surfaces more competently, but then, both of those are more expensive cars.