Our Cars: Suzuki Swift 1.2

2 April 2012: A potted history

The Details

Current mileage 2397
Claimed economy 56.5mpg
Actual economy 46.3mpg

The current Swift is proving a popular car, as did its predecessor – but it’s has been around for a lot longer than you think. In fact, if you trace the Swift back to its earliest incarnation you’ll find it’s been on the go since 1983.

The first ‘Swift’ wasn’t actually a Swift – it was called the Cultus in Japan. Much like the current model, this version was offered as both a three and five-door hatchback. It was powered by a 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine with about 50PS.

Swift Cultus

Sounds like it was slow, but it was tremendously light by modern standards, so could hit 62mph in about 14 seconds. The first generation Cultus wasn't sold in the UK until the mid-80s though. Most were sold in Japan, with some in the USA and Canada.

The next generation Cultus is more familiar, because it’s the first Swift we ever saw in real numbers in the UK. It was still called the Cultus in its home market and it was popular all over the world. In fact, it’s so popular that it’s still in production in India. It wasn’t so well received in the UK though, perhaps because of the quality of its rivals.

It’s been sold as a Geo Metro, a Pontiac, a Holden, a Chevrolet, a Subaru, a Maygar and of course a Suzuki, with its platform adapted to offer a variety of engines from 1.0-litre to 1.6-litre. Some versions even had four-wheel drive!

The next model to bear the Swift name was only sold as a Swift in Japan – everywhere else got the Suzuki Ignis, a square-sided model which looked a bit like a shrunken SUV. It offered a decent amount of entertainment in 1.5-litre Sport trim, though, and even provided the basis for a rally car.


Next up was the 2005-2010 model Swift, which is a very familiar sight on UK roads. Aping the MINI’s style without being a complete copycat, this generation of Swift offered good value for money, low running costs, reliability and practicality – much like the current model.

In 2010 the current version was launched, and after the success of its predecessor it didn’t have quite so much work to do, so it’s a familiar shape, with improvements in key areas. You can read a comparison between the current and previous model here.

« Earlier: Where does the Swift come from?     Later: Better weather, better car »

Six months and 6500 miles have passed since the Suzuki Swift first arrived but now it's time to say goodbye. So how has it fared in its time with us?
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2 April 2012: A potted history
It may seem a new name, but the Swift's history can actually be traced back to the early 80s. Can you remember all the models?
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Having spent a while with the Swift I've started to pick up on things you won't notice in the showroom or on a test drive.
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