Our Cars: Suzuki Swift 1.2

23 December 2011: Disaster!

The Details

Current mileage 1739
Claimed economy 56.5mpg
Actual economy 46.1mpg

I’ve been involved in one accident before and it was on a motorbike, which meant I was the crumple zone. I wasn’t hurt, but I could very easily have been killed - and I was only travelling at 20mph. That means I have a huge appreciation for the safety offered by a modern car.

Safety equipment is good. Modern cars have lots of gear to keep occupants protected in a crash and to keep pedestrians safe if they’re hit. There’s everything from the obvious air bags to less apparent things, like the height of the bonnet and the position of the windscreen wipers.

Crumple zones are vital. If a car hits something then its crumple zones absorb most of the impact so that the energy is dissipated gradually, rather than immediately. This means the energy of the collision is absorbed by the car and not relayed to the occupants.

I recently found out just how much the rear bumper of the Swift bends under even the most minimal of stress, care of an inattentive van driver reversing out of his space without first checking his mirror.

Yes, that battle scar is the result of a collision that took place at speeds slower than a snail moves, but the spongy, energy absorbing bumpers of the Swift buckled under the weight of a long wheelbase Ford Transit.

Luckily there are insurers and I can’t fault the way in which they’ve handled the problem. The repair, too, has obviously been carried out to the highest standard and the car looks just as good as it did when it rolled off the production line. So when all is said and done, it’s not the worst thing to have ever happened.

Features like the ‘bendy’ plastic bumpers fitted to modern cars keep insurance costs down, but more important than a cheap repair is the safety of occupants in more severe accidents. Suzuki has put a lot of effort into ensuring that the Swift will protect its occupants just as well in a high speed collision as it does in a low speed one.

It scores the maximum five star score in Euro NCAP tests, with a 94% adult occupancy protection rating and 82% for children. It’s a far cry from the 80s and 90s, when small cars would fold up into oblivion in almost any crash.

There are seven airbags, including curtain airbags to protect the occupants’ heads in side collisions, and there’s ESC to keep skidding under control. The official Euro NCAP crash test video is embedded below, and you can see how all of the crumple zones and active safety systems work together in glorious slow motion. 

What's good:

It's safe: A five star safety rating means that it's a very safe car, despite the fact it's so small. 

And what's not:

Battle scars: After a slow-speed knock the rear bumper looked mangled for a few weeks until a repair was booked in. People seem to look at you as though you're a bad driver if your bumper is bent, no matter who was at fault!

« Earlier: On a journey     Later: Spot the difference »

Updates
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?
Most of the time I've spent with the Swift has been in the cold of winter but now the sun is out the Suzuki is much more enjoyable to drive.
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?
When you order a car you probably think nothing more until it's ready - but what happens between signing the papers and taking delivery?
You never can tell where your car is going to take you, so I've highlighted some of the journeys that test the Swift's versatility on a map.
I pick out some of the best - and worst - optional extras from the accessories brochure.
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.
When the new Swift was launched many people - rightly - observed that it looks like the old one. So what's the difference?
23 December 2011: Disaster!
A recent minor bump opened my eyes to the amount of safety kit fitted to the Suzuki Swift, which has a five star Euro NCAP rating.
The Swift has, so far, impressed. It's great on country lanes, packed with gear and works well in town. But what about on a long motorway trip?
It's not uncommon for little cars to offer enjoyable driving dynamics, and expected as much from the Swift. Turns out it's a revelation.
The first thing I noticed when the new Suzuki Swift SZ4 turned up is just how much standard equipment you get.
 

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