Suzuki Swift hybrid review: no pure-electric mode, but still a quiet achiever
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Suzuki Swift Hybrid Limited Two Tone
- Smooth powertrain
- Comprehensive safety equipment
- Frugal by any measure
- One of the least fun Swifts to drive
- Still costs close to $30k
- Trumped on economy by Toyota rival
It seems like there are two things standing in the way of success for the Suzuki Swift hybrid.
The first is the rest of the Swift range. Yes, the hybrid is incredibly economical, returning 4.1l/100km. And it has a nice niche in the lineup, sitting in between the $4k cheaper GL (4.6l/100km) and the $1k more expensive RS (5.1l/100km).
But both the GL and RS remain tempting alternatives. Because there’s not much in it, right? The GL is lower-tech and more sparsely equipped, but you can buy a lot of petrol for $4k. Especially when the hybrid only saves you 0.5l per 100km.
And the RS is a whole lot more fun, because you swap a continuously variable transmission and four-pot engine in the hybrid for a 6-speed automatic and fizzy three-cylinder in the RS.
But many buyers really want a hybrid, for either image (business users/fleets especially) or emotional reasons. And that’s fine, but it does bring us to the Swift’s second problem: the Toyota Yaris hybrid.
The Yaris is a staggeringly economical machine: 3.3l/100km claimed and entirely capable of achieving that in the real world. Because it’s a brand-new model, it’s also more modern than the Swift. Game over then?
Not necessarily. We love the Yaris here – but we love the hybrid a bit less than the conventional petrol model. There’s a large price premium ($3k) and it’s so focused on thrifty urban driving, the performance can be a bit turgid at low speed.
Consider the Swift hybrid LTD “two tone” featured here: it’s the flagship of the petrol-electric range and at $28,990, getting up there in price. But it’s still $4500 cheaper than the Yaris ZR hybrid. And as previously discussed, you can buy a lot of petrol for that.
The Swift does feel like a more cohesive drive, partly because it’s a mild hybrid – meaning the 10Ah lithium-ion battery is simply there to assist and save fuel when it can. The Suzuki is not capable of driving on battery alone.
But the powertrain does feel smooth and strong in urban running, providing you’re driving gently – which you should if you’ve opted for the hybrid. Otherwise you’d just choose a more fun Swift… like the RS. The Swift hybrid is also 140kg lighter than the Yaris and feels it in the corners.
Equipment levels between the Swift LTD and Yaris ZR are pretty even. They’re both loaded; the Suzuki gets points in some areas (it has Rear Cross Traffic Alert, for example) but then the Toyota answers back in others (an airbag between the front occupants is a first for the class).
The reason the Swift hybrid is a bit of head-scratcher is that there’s so much choice. Which is not a bad thing at all.
SUZUKI SWIFT HYBRID LTD TWO TONE
ENGINE: 1.2-litre four-cylinder petrol with mild hybrid system
GEARBOX: Continuously variable transmission (CVT), FWD