It was the car set to revolutionise things for the Japanese manufacturer. Fantastic styling, unexpectedly entertaining driving characteristics and solid build quality, all for a competitive price meant it had a good run at it.
A couple years back Suzuki introduced a 1.2-litre four-pot to the mix, making what was already an incredibly economical car even more so. I had an opportunity to potter about it one recently to see if the Swift is still all that.
On the outside
The Swift's design is simple, no frills motoring at its best. So despite being a little long in the tooth, the overall shape hasn't actually aged badly at all. Parked up alongside something like a VW Polo Vivo (SA's best-selling little hatch) and in fact the Suzuki looks quite modern.
On the inside
Again Suzuki has kept things relatively simple in here. Perhaps it's the 'zen' way. Regardless the Swift has kept up with the times; Bluetooth is standard for example, along with various modes of connectivity for your iPod. The cabin is rather spacious too, the rear seats easily capable of carrying real human beings (as opposed to the half-pint-sized ones).
The boot on the other hand isn't much to write home about. It does the whole hidden floor thing allowing you to hide things away under a false floor. Or if needs be throw the fake floor out for the full bananas. But even that is down on the Vivo by some 40 litres. The trade-off is rear leg room, clearly.
Behind the wheel
The little 1.2-litre motor is good for 63kW and 115 torques. It definitely won't set your hair on fire; in fact you can basically treat the throttle as an on-off switch. But what it will do is sip at your fuel tank in the most frugal fashion. Driven flat out I couldn't get the readout above 6.7 litres per hundred. Driven carefully and that figure drops into the 5's around town - that's simply remarkable.
Sharp steering and a decent chassis set-up also mean it responds accurately to driver inputs. Even more so thanks to how light the Swift is on the scales. It actually makes for quite a fun little car to zip around in.
Base pricing on the 1.2 manual is R143,000 whilst my test model was nearer R157,000. Compared with the Polo Vivo the Swift is rather cheap. More so when you look at standard features that VW would make you pay for.
The Swift is still my go-to decision for anyone asking what car to buy for around R150,000. There's a small service plan included in the price too, which is nice. Not that servicing will cost much considering the bulletproof build quality Suzuki offers up. You'd almost be considered a nutter if you bought anything else.
Engine: 1,197cc four-cylinder petrol
Fuel Consumpiton: 5.8l/100km
Service: Two-year/30,000km service plan