Ranking each generation of Suzuki Swift


The release of the brand-new and latest generation of Suzuki Swift is just a flick of the wheel away.

So, we thought it was ample time as any to look at past iterations of the Japanese hatchback, how it’s evolved over the decades, while ranking each across three categories: looks, driveability, and impact - a ‘definitive guide’ of sorts.

Ready? Let’s get into it.

  • Suzuki Cultus/Swift/Ignis Sport: 2000 - 2006

    Starting on a technicality feels like a cop-out, but without the introduction of the Swift nameplate - replacing the Suzuki Cultus in Japan - the rest wouldn’t be history.

    Released as the Ignis Sport in export markets, the three-door variant formed the basis of the Swift Sport in Japan. This ‘prototype’ generation of Swift looked great; a classic box design with street-style bodywork complimented Suzuki’s M engine, while four-wheel drive variants were also available.

    The Sport model would cease production by 2005, but its impact was already undeniable: the Suzuki Swift as we know it was born. A cult favourite, it truly was ahead of its time.

    Rank: The engine and drivability were typical of an era just starting to embrace internet technology, but its characteristic design along with the model essentially starting the Swift line, means the first generation earns a respectable: 7/9

  • First-Generation: 2004 - 2010

    The 2004 Paris Motor Show was the location for the release of the first-generation Swift proper, with an instantly recognisable bodywork design that became synonymous with the model.

    Marketed as a ‘sporty’ subcompact, its chassis and driving characteristics were refined through rigorous European road-testing, with 1.3 and 1.5-litre variants available, as well as 4WD models.

    Super-easy and super-fun to drive, a 2005 campaign featuring a fresh-faced Cristiano Ronaldo was immaterial; sales figures were already twice the amount forecasted. The Swift was now conclusively, a runaway success. The Sport variant of the new Swift debuted not long after.

    Rank: European testing improved the driveability ten-fold, while the design was set to entre automotive lore for years to come. Its impact was obvious: the Swift rose to become a brand in its own right: 8/9

  • Second-Generation: 2010 - 2016

    Now iconic, Suzuki released the second generation Swift in September 2010. This model was an evolution of the radical first-generation release; a more rounded design sat atop a slightly longer wheelbase, which reduced body roll by shifting the centre of mass.

    The big changes for this iteration were to the interior. Enhanced space, comfort and driving convenience brought the Swift into the modern age. A 2013 facelift added LED daytime running lights, Bluetooth streaming and DAB radio - reflecting the smartphone explosion that shifted driving habits.

    New Dualjet technology improved engine power and fuel economy, positioning the Swift as extremely dependable and practical. 5 million units sold by 2016 was proof enough that the second-generation release ticked plenty of boxes for drivers the world over.

    Rank: Improved driveability supplemented a raft of interior updates, as Suzuki modernised the Swift. Its impact was arguably less than the first generation, despite Dualjet technology becoming the manufacturers’ new baseline. Less ‘newer’ features in a refined - over radical - design pushes its ranking down slightly: 6/9

  • Third-Generation: 2016 - 2023

    The third-generation Swift debuted in December 2016, and was the first such model built on the lightweight Heartect platform. The 10% weight reduction combined with Suzuki’s powerful, new Boosterjet engine and mild-hybrid technology made the driveability of this Swift THE best.

    A heavily upgraded interior reflected advancements in technology; Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and a 4.2-inch touchscreen display were added to the Swift for the first time. Safety features including lane departure warnings and emergency radar braking worked alongside the improvements in driveability, making this model the safest, most practical, and most reliable Swift ever made.

    The built-in value of the model meant the design was almost secondary, despite a totally revised and more contemporary look. Gone were three-door variants, but with a boot still 10-20% more spacious than previously, Suzuki pushed the envelope of hatchback engineering.

    Ranking: The impact this generation had was arguably second to Suzuki’s first iteration of Swift, solely down to being released later. New technology, improved handling, and driveability, as well as enhanced safety features made this the most modern, safe, and practical Swift ever made. The contemporary design was simply the bow on an absolute gift of a car, which Suzuki will have a hard time beating: 8/9

Fourth-Generation: 2023 - ?

More details about Suzuki’s fourth-generation Swift will be released in due course, with a release potentially earmarked for Spring 2024.

In the meantime, there’s only one way to find out where it ranks. And that’s by registering your interest for the new Suzuki Swift, right here.

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