Sometime ago in a previous century, I was driving in Scotland on the launch of a crazy little vehicle called a Suzuki Jimny. It was the smallest 4×4 since the arrival of the donkey and a pack of journalists from around the world were causing chaos in the Glens.
It was a slightly surreal moment seeing four Japanese writers squeezed in tiny Jimny. One had bought a kilt and wore it later at supper. While the new Suzuki was definitely flawed, it was also bloody good fun to drive and superb in the dirt – thanks to a short wheelbase and light weight.
I can see similarities with the Trax. It’s nowhere near as light as the Jimny of course and beautifully flawed too – but I can’t help but like it. Why? Because although the Chevrolet is noisy at speed, jittery on the corners and not blessed with the most refined of diesel engines, it has bags of spirit.
Like all great flawed cars – think Alfa Romeo Alfasud, Renault Avantime, Citroen 2CV – you just can’t help but like a machine that puts a smile on your face. Winding the Trax up to speed involves a lot of leg and arm work through the gears, it rolls slightly alarmingly on corners and the ride is somewhat lacking but would I want one if I lived up a slightly muddy lane in the Trossachs? Yes.
Jeremy For its size, the Suzuki Swift is immensely practical and well-equipped. With the rear seat fold down (no split-fold option), we managed to fit two large dogs in the back on Sunday and a load of shopping.
But it made me smile this morning when I sat in the driver’s seat and spotted a little logo in the door pocket, shaped like a water bottle. Just in case you wondered what the round hole was for in the pocket, Suzuki designers felt it needed a water bottle symbol to remind you.
It made me wonder what else they could do to make driving a car foolproof. Jeep and other American brands often have a rash of ‘reminders’ dotted around the dashboard stating the bleedin’ obvious.
These include ‘objects in the mirror may be closer than they appear’, plus in 4x4s, a graphic of the vehicle about to topple over. It’s supposed to warn you how steep an incline you can drive across before falling sideways…
My favourite though also comes from America but has nothing to do with motoring. It’s a sticker affixed to the top of a step ladder. It simple warns users – ‘stop here’.
I’m now searching the Swift for more timely reminders. There must be one on the seat somewhere reminder me to ‘sit here’.
Jeremy What is it about white cars that attracts flies? The front of our Swift Sport looks like it has driven through a plague of the little blighters – a photographer’s nightmare, if we had one.
This morning, the car was covered in more of them, basking in the sunshine. Not for long though. Fifty yards down the road and the Swift was buzzing along at high speed blowing the cobwebs off.
Remarkable how the front of the Swift looks like a Mini – except the Suzuki is considerably cheaper and goes around corners a lot better a standard Cooper.
It’s still putting a smile on my face – shame about the acres of plastic trim on the inside and the fact you can’t spec it up with sat nav and leather seats. Otherwise, I’ll take a grey one, please.
Jeremy Anybody who remembers the last generation Swift Sport might have feared the change to this current model a couple of years ago would water down the fun. Not a bit of it.
I’ve found it much more fun than the popular Ford Fiesta Zetec S – it also looks that little bit different to the ubiquitous Ford which I’ve seen several of already today.
The six-speed gearbox fitted in the latest version makes for a much more usable drive, quieter motorway speeds and improved performance. It also squeezes out a few more mpg, although you might struggle to achieve the 44mpg claimed because the Suzuki encourages drivers to push along.
On the down side, the boot is tiny! It looks slightly bigger than the Vauxhall Adam but not by much. You can fold down the back seats easily enough and increase the load area to 500 litres but four people and their luggage won’t fit!
Jeremy Just back from a Friday morning spin down some busy A-roads in the Swift Sport. I’m finding any excuse to drive it at the moment because this car has lashings of something so many of its competitors lack – fun.
The first time I drove a Golf GTI 30 years ago, I remember being blown away by the power and agility of was otherwise a standard family hatchback. It’s the same feeling with the Suzuki – except it doesn’t have quite same the level of performance on tap.
But don’t let that put you off, the Swift is so beautifully balanced, so agile on the corners that it just urges you to ‘make progress’ wherever possible.
Sure, the Swift isn’t turbocharged like many sporty hatchbacks these days but the normally aspirated, 1.6 petrol engine is gutsy. It’s not ‘hot’ from a standing start but keep the revs up and it flies!
For gentlemen of certain age, the Swift Sport will turn the clock back to great GTIs like the Golf, Peugeot 205 and Fiesta. Uncomplicated, forgiving and guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
Jeremy The Swift Sport has just arrived and appears to have brought summer with it. Small, sparking white and rather cute, I get the feeling I’m going to get along fine with this lukewarm hatchback.
There is nothing spectacular about the styling of the Suzuki but it looks purposeful – like a little car that wants to be driven.
Inside, unlike the slightly overcooked Adam we tested last week, the trim is no frills and functional. There is plenty of plastic and the buttons and dials are more budget than bold. However, what it lacks in chic it makes up for in driving performance!
I’ve only driven the Sport a couple of miles and it’s already put a smile on my face – even though I don’t like white cars!