Motorcheck Used Car Guide: Suzuki Swift

Years built: 2005 to 2012
Bodystyles: three-and-five-door hatchback

What is it?

Suzuki is in the process of a major new model range revamp, with at least seven key new cars due in the next few years, and it’s starting this very week with the launch of the new Celery city car. While the new ones are rolling in though it’s worth looking back a little to the Swift, specifically the cute-and-cuddly version launched in 2005. Here is a car that’s often overlooked in the maelstrom of the small hatchback market but which actually offers one of the best mixtures of practicality, reliability and driver pleasure. As ideal for those starting their driving careers (it’s a terrific little thing to learn on) as for those downsizing from larger cars, the Swift is fun, frugal and verging on the fantastic.

Which one should I buy?

Please don’t get this confused with the older model Swift, which was first sold way back in 1983. Although these older Swifts are fine from the point of view of reliability, they’re pretty crude in terms of interior and exterior design.
The 2005 Swift was an utter revelation though – styling to match the mighty Mini and handling that was almost as good too. Most of them use Suzuki’s 1.3-litre 75hp petrol engine, which is a fine unit – reliable and pretty good on fuel, if a touch noisy – but there are occasional sightings of the fleetingly rare 1.3 diesel which used an engine bought in from Fiat. If you can track one of these down, you’re onto a winner – 65mpg all day long but with a solid thump of mid-range torque that allows you to easily surf along with bigger cars on the motorway.
How much should I spend? Around €8,000 for a 1.3 GLX five-door.
Here’s one we found:
2009 Suzuki Swift 1.3 GLX five-door, SIMI registered Suzuki main dealer, 54,000km, three owners, €8,450.

What goes wrong?

This being a Suzuki, not much – but there are one or two things to take note of. The paintwork can be a touch thin in places and is prone to suffering stone chips etc.
Gearboxes can give trouble and a shift mechanism that feels too tight and stiff is an early sign of this.
They do like to go through front tyres, so check the condition of the rubber all round. Squeaky brakes are an oft-reported issue. as are cabin rattles. And watch the front and rear bumpers – they’re expensive to replace if there’s been a knock so many owners skimp on the work.

Anything else?

There is a little-seen Sport version which is an utter gem of a junior hot hatch, but avoid the three-door model as it looks somewhat less well balanced, style-wise, than the five-door and will be worth less at resale time. Also, if you do cover a lot of long motorway miles, this may not be the car for you as they can get a bit noisy.
But when you’ve found your perfect Swift, don’t forget to get its history checked out by