You don’t expect a small inoffensive car that looks perfect for pootling around town to be packing radar, cameras and a laser.

But then you probably don’t expect emergency braking, automatic air conditioning and adaptive cruise control either. But those are just a few of the big surprises packed into the new lighter, more powerful, more economical little Suzuki Swift.

I say little, but that’s only really true of the five-door hatchback’s compact exterior. Inside the five-seater there is a surprising amount of space and, at last, a very decent boot.

But most unexpected of all is how good the smartly-styled, third-generation Swift is to drive. While abilities such as nippy, zippy and easy-to-manage are to be anticipated, those big-car qualities such as quiet, relaxed and solid are a revelation.

A 200-mile round trip to Cambridgeshire taking in the rush-hour M40, M25 and M11 was polished off with little fuss and a great deal of satisfaction.

One of those satisfying feelings after a 360-plus mile week of motorway and country road travel was notching up 57.4mpg, according to the on-board computer, which beats the official fuel consumption figures.

The test car’s fuel economy came courtesy of a new, 1.0-litre, three-cylinder, turbocharged petrol engine linked to a six-speed automatic gearbox. Don’t be fooled by the apparent small capacity of the engine, as Suzuki says its 111 horsepower and pulling power matches that of a 1.8-litre normally-aspirated engine. I wouldn’t argue with that.

Suzuki says the European Swift has been made wider than the Japanese-market model, to better suit our demands for a more nimble, agile and sharper handling car.

Priced from £10,999 the Japanese-built Swift is available in three grades with a choice of petrol engines, with six airbags, air conditioning, DAB radio, privacy glass, LED daytime running lights and Bluetooth fitted as standard on all models.

The interior is spacious, sporty and functional and the SZ5 model boasts everything from smartphone link display audio, rear view camera, front fog lamps and auto air conditioning to satellite navigation, LED headlamps, polished 16-inch alloy wheels, rear electric windows, dual sensor brake support and adaptive cruise control.

It is also the first Suzuki to be fitted with a forward detection system that combines a camera and a laser sensor to trigger autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning and high beam assist. It also uses radar to enable adaptive cruise control.

Gadget fans are well catered for on the SZ5 with a colour LCD display that shows everything from fuel consumption, average speed, acceleration and brake operation, to engine output, torque data and driving G-force tracking.

There is also plenty of opportunity to personalise the car that is available in one solid colour, six optional metallic colours and three dual-tone metallic colours, with the roof coloured either black or silver.

And more surprising still, is that the Swift is also available in hybrid and all-wheel-drive versions.

Auto facts

Model: Suzuki Swift 1.0 Auto SZ5

Price: £15,849

Insurance group: 9E (1-50)

Fuel consumption (combined): 56.5mpg

Top speed: 118mph

Length: 384cm/151.2in


Luggage capacity: 9.3 cu ft

Fuel tank capacity: 8.1 gallons/37 litres

CO2 emissions: 114g/km

Warranty: Three years/ 60,000 miles