Top of the econo-hatchback shopping list

Whenever I’m asked by my peers for small car recommendations under a million pesos, the Suzuki Swift always comes at the top of my list. This is more true with the third-gen model that landed on our shores back in 2018. The improvements in this model elevated the hatchback to a commendable degree.

Truth be told, I’ve always been a fan of the Swift ever since I was in college. My formative years include seeing the then-new Swift grow in population on the road, and it never failed to ask for a second look. Maybe because of its similarity with a Mini or its cutesy proportions. 

Whatever it was, Suzuki sure made a great job in making an attention-grabbing car – and that’s amid a segment populated with too many contenders.

With the current-generation model, Suzuki has mastered the art of small cars. By design alone, the Swift managed to stay attractive despite the change in styling. The Japanese automaker also added a tad touch of sportiness, especially when viewed from the rear, while the pair of bug-eyed headlamps reinforce the cuteness we all love.

Inside, the improvements from the previous-generation model are even more apparent. Gone were the cheap-looking plastics, replaced by polymers that are easy on the eyes yet still leaning towards durability. The controls are sensibly placed, partnered with exemplary ergonomics.

As the Swift is generally bigger than before, space isn’t short for average-sized people. I stand 5 foot and 6 inches with a medium build, and I know that five of me would fit inside the vehicle. Not a cozy fit, but not sardines-tight either. The trunk, however, is big enough to fit a standard-sized child stroller with a little room for three to four grocery bags, expandable by folding the rear backrests. Nice.

The crown of the cabin is its 8-inch multimedia touchscreen. Despite coming out three years ago, it still is one of the nicest-looking infotainment systems out there in terms of clarity, contrast, and design of the icons.

Beyond the aesthetics, the Swift’s overall ride comfort is notable and exemplary. The suspension setup is tuned for utmost comfort on flat roads, able to absorb road imperfections within reason. There’s minimum body roll, only felt when driven precariously. Outside and engine noise isolation is decent, but can still be improved.

What makes the Swift a top-tier recommendation is its on-road behavior. Sure, its measly 1.2-liter engine only makes 82 horses and 114Nm of torque, but remember that this small hatchback practically weighs nothing. 

As such, it doesn’t have a hard time pulling its weight, which translates to a noticeable sporty drive – at least when compared to its rivals in the city hatchback segment. Overtaking should be done with good measure, though, as with most cars equipped with CVT.

Beyond the engine prowess, the Swift has very commendable handling. Throw it around the corner and you’ll find joy with it, made effortless by its light steering feel that isn’t lacking feedback.

On a more sedate drive, more likely within the confines of the metro, the Swift feels right at home. You can easily squeeze it in tight streets, while parking won’t be a task.

The Suzuki Swift ranges from P775,000 to P869,000, with the GL CVT variant that you see here representing the mid-range offering. Just like what I always say to people when I’m recommending a car, don’t take my word for it. Go ahead and test drive so you can decide for yourself.

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