From fostering good relations with dealers to generating considerable goodwill among customers, Suzuki’s on a roll when it comes to doing business. A growing product portfolio has seen the car maker expand its reach beyond core models, but it's important not to forget the considerable role the conventional Swift compact hatchback plays in Suzuki's success story. The latest generation model seeks to improve on an already solid performer. The basic silhouette might be familiar, but the car's look eschews its conservative past for a bold nose, distinctive 'shoulder' feature and wider stance that's specific to European cars. Plus, it’s been to Weightwatchers, as the new car’s around 10 percent lighter than its predecessor.

Improvements inside include the adoption of trim colours and switchgear that imply a more upmarket ambience, while Suzuki has also ramped up the big car feel with the inclusion of numerous high-tech safety and convenience features along with an enhanced baseline standard specification. On the driving front, hybrid technology has given Suzuki's Boosterjet 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol motor a welcome extra slug of power. The mild hybrid system adds another layer of sophistication; a noticeable 'helping hand' when you accelerate is a boon for overtaking and tackling gradients, while its regenerative characteristics contribute towards improved economy for this 97g/km CO2 car.

The smooth roads of the test route flattered the Swift. The occasional pothole failed to ruffle the car and its modest weight and size made the drive an enjoyable and engaging one. In mild hybrid SHVS guise, the starter/generator motor’s belt-drive connection to the engine gives it an extra ‘push’ and also aids the regeneration process, charging the compact onboard lithium-ion battery. Everything about this Swift’s powertrain is modest in nature; the small capacity three-cylinder motor, the size and weight of the hybrid system and, praise be, five not six speeds for the slick manual gearbox. Nothing feels out of place, and the engine’s three-pot thrum is a rather charming accompaniment even when you’re pushing it hard.

There’s nothing modest about the Swift’s cabin; it’s a decent size for all occupants thanks to the extended wheelbase and comfortable seats. Cabin plastics remain hard to the touch, but there’s no denying the solid build quality, sound ergonomics and low noise levels when on the move. The car’s split-fold rear seats and enlarged boot further enhance its ability to deliver a well rounded experience.

Access to this hybrid Swift is via top SZ5 trim, which affords owners the luxury of a navigation system, LED headlights, keyless entry and start, adaptive cruise control and forward collision detection. Even the base SZ3 comes with air conditioning, Bluetooth connectivity, DAB radio and electric front windows, making it an appealing package. Suzuki’s small capacity 1.0- and 1.2-litre petrol motors are the sole choice here. If you want a sub 100g/km CO2 car it’s between the 1.2 Dualjet unit and the 1.0 Boosterjet in SHVS mild-hybrid guise.

Competition is tough in this sector, with Ford’s Fiesta and Skoda’s Fabia delivering a better driving experience and cabin quality respectively. That said, the Swift’s distinctive looks, clever engineering, generous and wide ranging level of kit, plus that high-tech hybrid triple-cylinder motor combine to make it a car deserving of top billing on your car shopping list.

Bodystyles 5-door hatchback
Engines 1.2 petrol (89bhp), 1.0 petrol mild hybrid (110bhp)
Trim levels SZ3, SZ5
Also consider Renault Clio, Toyota Yaris
Model tested SZ5 1.0 Boosterjet SHVS
Made in Esztergom, Hungary
Bodystyle 5-door hatchback, 5-seats
Engine 998cc, 3-cylinder, 12-valve, turbo petrol with electric motor and stop-start
Transmission 5-speed manual
Layout Front-wheel-drive
Maximum power (engine) 110bhp @ 5,500rpm
Maximum power (electric motor) 3bhp
Maximum torque (engine) 125lb ft @ 2,000-3,500rpm
Maximum torque (electric motor) 67lb ft
Top speed 121mph
0-62mph 10.6secs
CO2 emissions 97g/km
Official fuel economy (urban/extra urban/combined) 58.8/70.6/65.7mpg
Fuel tank size 37 litres
Range 535 miles
Insurance group tba
BIK rate 18%
Size (length/width without mirrors) 3,840/1,735mm
Boot space (minimum/maximum) 265/579 litres
Kerb/maximum towing weight 925/1,000kg
Euro NCAP crash test rating Not yet tested
Verdict A bold look, more Euro-focused driving experience and a welcome uplift in kit ensures that Suzuki’s latest Swift can battle with the big boys.