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Super Swift can soar for Suzuki 

IT was a typical spring day in Scotland the other week – snow falling and causing chaos on the roads with long delays.

But luckily, I missed out on the inclement weather as I was enjoying some terrific driving fun.

I was in the south of France – a fair bit warmer – where I was attending the Pan-European launch of Suzuki’s new Swift .

It arrived on Japanese roads late last year but the third generation Swift coming to the UK is built for the European market.

It is 40mm wider than the ones sold in Japan and has undergone severe testing in Europe to finely tune chassis and suspension for our roads.

This included 90 suspension prototypes being tested on British and German roads.

And powertrains were put to the test in freezing weather in Sweden, high temperatures and high altitudes in southern Spain as well as hill-climbing and descent attributes in the Alps.

Flying into Nice, and heading for our stay in Monaco, I had the ideal opportunity to put the Swift through its paces on the many winding mounta-inside roads – with spectacular views along the route.

This little hatchback is only available as a five-door now with the three-door scrapped due to little demand.

It looks terrific – especially in the Burning Red Pearl metallic-coloured Swifts we were driving at the launch.

The previous model was pretty smart as well so it retains the strong shoulders, blacked-out A pillars and vertical lamps front and rear.

New Swift – shorter, lower and wider – gets a more muscular look with its high nose and wide front grille.

Blacked-out pillars bring a ‘floating roof’ appearance and pillar-mounted rear door handles add to its stylish, sporty look.

Swift shares Suzuki’s Hear-tect lightweight platform which is also on Baleno and Ignis.

It is now up to 10 per cent lighter, 19 per cent more powerful and eight per cent more fuel efficient than the outgoing model with the car tested capable of 70.6mpg combined.

There are three grades – SZ3, SZ-T and SZ5 – with a choice of 111PS 1.0-litre three-cylinder Boosterjet or 90PS 1.2-litre four cylinder Dualjet petrol engines.

With production of right-hand drive models just starting when I attended the launch, the left-hooker Swift I was driving was the equivalent of the top-spec SZ5.

Under the bonnet was the Boosterjet engine with SHVS – Suzuki’s mild hybrid system.

This doesn’t work on its own like full hybrid units but assists the engine when pulling away and generates electricity through regenerative braking, helping to produce emissions as low as 97g/km.

The three-cylinder turbo unit is a perfect match for the Swift, proving punchy when needed and getting up to speed quickly enough with a zero to 62mph time of 10.6 seconds.

The five-speed manual gearbox allowed smooth, super slick changes as the Swift raced up and down what was a super, testing route.

Handling couldn’t be faulted as we sped through endless bends, with the little hatchback proving to be super agile.

With a top speed of 121mph, this Swift wasn’t pushed at maximum motorway speeds and there was little wind, engine or road noise.

It really was a fun car to drive, and ride comfort, for a car of this size was excellent while driving and during a spell in the front passenger seat.

New interior benefits include more supportive seats, extra room, white accents and satin chrome, and a sporty D-shaped steering wheel.

There’s also 20 per cent more luggage capacity – up 54 litres to 265 litres.

When it comes to kit, you get the excellent high level now expected from Suzuki.

Entry models come with air conditioning, DAB radio, privacy glass, LED daytime running lights, Bluetooth and six airbags.

Step up to SZ-T and this adds smartphone link display audio, rear view camera, front fog lamps and 16-inch alloys.

And the top-of-range SZ5 brings auto air con, satnav, LED headlamps, polished 16-inch alloys, rear electric windows, dual sensor brake support and adaptive cruise control.

There will also be an ALLGRIP four-wheel drive SZ5 version.

Swift will arrive in UK dealerships in mid-May but it doesn’t go on sale until June 1.

Price details haven’t been released yet but are expected to start at around the £11,000 mark – keeping it perfectly placed to build on Suzuki’s increasing sales which saw the company sell a record 38,167 in the UK last year.

The Japanese company is looking for 12,500 UK sales in the Swift’s first full year – 2018 – with 127,000 sold here since 2005.

And this cracking little hatchback has all the credentials to swiftly reach that target.