Suzuki Swift 4x4

I must have been one of the only people recently hoping the weather was going to get worse. I know the deluges that kicked off the New Year weren’t exactly top of everybody’s favourite meteorological happenings, and I sympathise with anybody who has been flooded out this festive period, honestly I really do. But would a little snow really have been too much to ask for? Not six foot drifts you understand, but just enough to make things as seasonally attractive as the Victorians depicted on their Christmas cards, and just a little to make the driving conditions more “interesting” too.

No, before you wonder, I haven’t indulged one too many left-over yuletide tipples and neither have I completely lost the plot. My hankering for slippery conditions all comes down – you might have guessed - to what I been driving.

Suzuki have given their ever popular Swift an extra sense of adventure by combining their two most popular talents – Superminis and small SUV’ - and endowed it with four wheel drive. Granted, it doesn’t take a genius to realise the Swift 4x4 is never going to challenge a Defender when it comes to going off-road, but to be fair to Suzuki they’re not trying to claim that anyway. Should you be one of those people who has a penchant for living slightly more off the beaten track than the rest of us however, the Swift 4x4 might just be well an truly up your alley. Sorry, bridleway.

Designed not for those for whom 4x4 means Finsbury Park school-runs and 22inch rims, the Swift 4x4 combines all the usual elements associated with a super-mini i.e. diminutive dimensions, goldfish ball-like visibility and affordable running costs and then adds the extra sure-footedness and reassurance of four-wheel drive. And, even if you budget doesn’t stretch to the range-topping key-less entry, Bluetooth enabled, air-conditioned SZ4 (as tested),  the cheaper SZ3 spec Swift 4x4 still gets 7 airbags, automatic headlights, climate control and Bluetooth too. Thankfully when it comes to home comforts the Swift 4x4 is anything but agricultural.

What you will get though, whichever you choose, is a Swift that sits 25mm higher than its front wheel drive cousins and weighs just over 65kg more – that’s about the same as teenage passenger.  Despite the slightly loftier stance overall ground clearance stays the same as result of the extra rear diff and drive shafts that transfer propulsion to the rear wheels via a viscous coupling should the fronts begin to loose traction. You also get some Audi Allroad-esque aluminium look-alike under-trays/skid-plates and black plastic wheel-arch and sill protectors to complete the Swift 4x4’s more out-doorsey look.

Engine and gearbox-wise things stay the same, apart from some slightly shorter gearing for first and second gears that is to aid low speed control on un-metalled surfaces. So, as result there’s a 1.2 litre four cylinder petrol mill under the curvaceous bonnet and five forward ratios, plus the promise of up to 51.3mpg if driven carefully.

I’d happily wager though that, like me, you’ll be more likely to sacrifice a few mpg in order to revel in the Swift’s rev-happy characteristics. With peak power - all 93bhp of it -not arriving until 4800rpm and just 87lbft of torque to pull things along driving the Swift becomes more of lesson in maintaining momentum rather than a series of short-sharp blasts between the landmarks. Nevertheless the Swift’s excellent handling, and direct if ultimately a little numb feeling steering, together with the 4x4’s extra grip, does mean you can attack roundabouts with far more, shall we say, “enthusiasm”. You get the impression too that should the weather turn colder and my wish for the white stuff was to be granted, with a set of winter tyres wrapped around its rather attractive 16” alloys the Swift 4x4 would be all-but unstoppable – well at least until the snow got too deep of course!

For the same price as Suzuki charge for their go (nearly) everywhere Swift you could choose from a host of second-hand SUV’s that would probably offer far more rugged off-road potential. However, it’s unlikely that any one of them would be so well equipped, so frugal to run, or so easy to live with day-to-day. Niche it may be, but if you only need a little extra grip every once in while and a super-mini is more your thing then whatever the weather the Swift 4x4 should be more than capable of putting a smile on your face.

Suzuki Swift SZ4 4x4 5 Door

Engine: 1242cc 4Cyl Petrol
Power:  93 BHP @ 6000rpm
Torque: 87 lbft @ 4800rpm
Transmission:   5 speed manual.
Performance: 0-62mph 13.4 sec
Max Speed: 103 mph
MPG: 51.3 Combined.
CO2: 126g/km
Price:  (as driven) £16,169.

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Liam Bird Liam Bird

I'm Liam Bird, a freelance Motoring Writer based in the South Shropshire Marches. I currently write car reviews and road tests for a number of regional lifestyle magazines and newspapers which are distributed throughout Cheshire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, most of Wales and beyond.

As a member of the Welsh Group of Motoring Writers I'm as happy behind the wheel of a super-mini as I am in the latest super-car. I have press accreditation with most of the major motor manufacturers, meaning that as well as always being on the look out for further commissions, I always have a number of cars arriving each month ready to review.

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