In truth, the Suzuki Swift 4×4 shouldn’t really have been at Suzuki’s recent press event. The invitation spoke about the revisions to the Splash and waxed lyrical about the new Kizashi, but there was no mention of the Swift. But in what could become a moment of inspiration from Alun Parry, Suzuki GB’s Head of Press and PR, a German-registered Suzuki Swift 4×4 had made its way across the Channel. There are no concrete plans to make the Swift 4×4 available in Great Britain, but on the basis of my brief encounter with the car, Suzuki should seriously consider it.
One of the first things that strike you about the Suzuki Swift 4×4 is just how normal it looks. In fact, there are only two clues to the car’s capabilities. One is the 25mm rise in the ride height, but only the eagle eyed car anoraks will spot this. The second clue is a discreet 4×4 badge on the boot. Superb! I just love the understated nature of the car. If the 4×4 does make it to these shores, I urge Suzuki to avoid adding any extra decals or silly cosmetic extras. They key to this car’s success will be simplicity. Simples.
The Swift is driven by a permanent 4-wheel drive system and powered by the same 1.2-litre engine found on the standard Swift. This means 94ps, or 92 horses in old money, which is more than enough to push the little Swift along at a surprising rate. Of course, with the added weight of the 4-wheel drive system, you’d expect the Swift 4×4 to feel slightly heavier than the standard car. And you’d be right, but not as much as you’d think. The 4×4 weighs a mere 90kg more than the front-wheel drive car, so although it does compromise the handling a little, it isn’t enough to dilute the fun. Be in no doubt, the Suzuki Swift 4×4 is a hoot to drive and leaves you grinning from ear-to-ear.
There’s further good news at the pumps too, with the Swift 4×4 returning a combined MPG of 51.3, which is only 5.2 less than the standard car. The CO2 figure of 128 puts the 4×4 in tax band D and an annual road tax fee of £90. OK, so this is £60 more than the standard car, but you’ll soon recoup this come next winter. If we get our now traditional annual snow dump, the Swift 4×4 will be one car that is more likely to keep moving. Forget big 4x4s – lightness, nimbleness and narrowness are the key words for the white stuff.
But sadly, your choices are limited in this sector. Fiat no longer produce the Panda 4×4 which has for sometime been the default choice for those looking to keep moving on a budget. Just take a trip up into the Alps and count the Panda 4x4s sat alongside the Alpine chalets. Proof, if proof were needed, of the Panda’s qualities. But you can no longer buy one new. Daihatsu has gone and with it has gone the able Terios, whilst Subaru has killed off the Justy. So your best bet is the SX4 or Sedici, but both are bigger and more expensive to run than the Swift. You could opt for the Jimny, but that is too flawed to make a viable everyday proposition.
Of course, the fact that so many manufacturers have left the small 4×4 sector could be quite telling. But I’d wager they hadn’t banked on a series of harsh winters and regular snowfall. Just look at the upsurge in demand for winter tyres this season as an indication that motorists might be changing their attitude towards winter driving. Fit a set of winter tyres to a Suzuki Swift 4×4 and make them available to midwives, doctors, vets and pizza delivery companies and you can be sure that the country will keep moving this year.
There’s no guarantee that Suzuki will decide to bring the Swift 4×4 to Great Britain, but I for one hope they do. With a rumoured price of between £13,000 and £14,000, it could just become the must-have accessory for the winter of 2011/12.
Oh and if you’re still not convinced, check out the previous generation Swift in the snow (above). Think how much fun you could be having in eight months time.