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Car reviews - Suzuki - Swift - SF range

Our Opinion

We like
Economy, quality, ease
Room for improvement
A little bit too lightweight, spartan

11 Jul 2003

WITH the "growing up" of pioneer small cars like the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic, a new group of small, economical sedans and hatches slipped into the low end of the market.

The Suzuki Swift is one of a number of keen contenders in this highly competitive segment. It offers smart appearance and excellent performance and economy.

The Swift three-door hatchback came with a 993cc, three-cylinder engine developing only 39kW, mated to a three-speed automatic or five-speed manual transmission.

The 49kW, 1.3-litre single overhead cam carburettor unit was only available in the Swift four-door sedan and, from 1994, in the Swift-based Cino models while the hotshot GTi was powered by a 75kW, twin cam, 16-valve, 1.3-litre engine. Topline GLX sedan models were available with a 70kW, 1.6-litre engine.

Three and five-door hatch versions of the Swift with slight differences were marketed as the Holden Barina until May, 1994.

The Swift is a smart looking car with clean, smooth lines which have held up well with age. The boot is surprisingly deep and the split rear seat allows long objects to be carried easily.

Suspension is by struts and coil springs all round and power assistance is optional on the rack and pinion steering.

Ride is firm and a little jerky. Handling is characterised by strong understeer. Steering without power assistance is heavy, particularly when parking.

Braking is by discs at the front with drums at the rear.

Excellent fuel economy is a feature of the Swift. The manual three-cylinder returns 6.0L/100km on the AS2877 city cycle and 4.6 litres on the highway.

A known in-service problem - on the 1.3-litre engine only - is the loosening of the valve rocker shaft securing screws, which can cause loss of oil pressure, excessive oil supply to the overhead valve gear and possible cylinder head damage if the screws come out completely. The security of the screws should be checked at every 10,000km service.

The Suzuki Swift offers good performance and appointments to match its attractive styling. It is a sound choice for the buyer confronted with a number of attractive options in this price range.

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