VED Year 1/2: £140/£135
Max speed/0-62mph: 105mph/12.6secs
Fuel consumption (on test): 44.8mpg
CO2 NEDC/WLTP: 101g/km/128g/km
Insurance Group: 27D
RISING fuel prices, congestion charges, low-emission zones and increasing requirements to go green could ultimately push us out of out traditional family-sized business cars and into something altogether smaller.
But how small is small and how does downsizing fit with the requirements of your business vehicle?
On the first point, small is no longer that tiny if, for example, you compare the original Mini with its modern-day counterpart or put the latest generation VW Golf up against the Mk 1.
But to find out how a small car measures up to business requirements, our latest long termer is the Suzuki Swift – closer in size to the original Mini than the modern BMW-ised version.
And, we have already discovered during the first 10 days or so that this is a small car with a big heart.
For one thing, the feel of the interior defies its exterior dimensions – it feels much bigger than it is once you are behind the wheel – or in the passenger seat. It’s fun to drive and has pretty much all the equipment you need. Plus it has ‘Allgrip’ capability, the next best thing to four-wheel-drive, to handle tricky conditions and it’s a hybrid.
Fun to drive comes from a perky 1.2-litre engine which seems to belie its modest stated output of 90hp, providing plenty of poke when needed, no doubt aided by the car’s relatively light weight of just 980kgs.
Load it up with the people and luggage, mind, and the car does not remain quite as agile.
The Swift’s hybridability – I think we have just invented a word – does require some explanation.
In fact, it’s a mild hybrid. Technically speaking, a hybrid car is something that is driven by two power sources although Suzuki’s SHVS is a type of mild hybrid system which ensures fuel economy while being cost effective.
The SHVS works on the principle of regenerative braking. Kinetic energy generated while slowing down is converted to electric energy, which is then stored in the car’s battery.
Its Integrated Starter Generator is an electric motor, attached to the engine and powered by the high capacity battery of the car.
The ISG is used to supplement the engine’s power when the car accelerates at higher RPM and burns more fuel to gain the required momentum.
The ISG motor helps the hybrid system to quickly accelerate through electric energy meaning the engine does not have to work as much under hard acceleration – therefore saving fuel.
The SHVS Mild Hybrid System comes with smart idle start/stop function, which shuts off the engine when the car stops and is in idling condition for more than a certain period of time.
The Allgrip system on the Swift helps improve overall grip when road conditions become challenging.
The system automatically diverts power from the front wheels to the rear giving the car extra stability.
This model comes pretty well equipped as well with such things as hill hold control and high beam assist added to the normal safety features.
There is also sat nav, Bluetooth integrated audio, steering wheel mounted audio controls and 16-inch polished alloy wheels.
Additional extras on our model are a wheel arch extension and side skirt set at £499 and side body mouldings at £139 – both inclusive of VAT and fitting – which bumped the price up from the standard OTR price of £16,999