Suzuki has a winner with the Swift, a compact small hatchback that is currently proving to be popular worldwide and to date more than 6.1 million have been sold.
Of course this Japanese carmaker is renowned for producing small vehicles, the perfect example is their go anywhere Jimny and it is so popular there is a waiting list. I spoke to Alun Parry, the Suzuki PR supremo for the UK and Ireland who informed me that the demand is huge in the home market where the parking restrictions give this small 4×4 a huge advantage, restrictions not only in the urban areas but also in the countryside. This takes me to my latest Swift adventure and to the Swift 4×4, yet another chapter in the Swift story. The ALLGRIP auto four-wheel drive system is available as an option on the SZ5 model with a lively 1.2-litre engine.
This Dualjet engine uses twin fuel injectors which aids economy with 90PS, enough to get from rest to 100kph (62mph) in around twelve seconds. The lightweight hybrid system uses a compact 12V lithium battery placed under the front passenger seat. The well proven and simple fully automatic and permanent four-wheel drive layout transfers additional torque to the rear wheels when required via a viscous coupling. The viscous coupling takes on the role of a centre differential to connect the front and rear axles and is made up of two sets of annular metal plates which rotate in a casing containing a silicon type fluid. In normal operating conditions the plates will turn at the same rate but when wheel slippage occurs the silicon fluid will quickly become highly viscous when heated by increased friction and shear caused by differences between the movements of the plates. A part of the viscous coupling is connected to the driving axle and one part to the driven axle and when the front wheels spin the centre viscous coupling locks due to friction and shear caused by the differences in motion of the plates which then rapidly transfer more torque to the rear axle. The bonus is, it is automatic, when AWD is required it occurs seamlessly, there are no buttons to press or levers to engage.
There’s a saying the proof of the pudding is in the eating, so in order to experience the system I had the opportunity to go off road in the Beaulieu Estate, famed of course for the world renowned motor museum. There you can see some 250 vehicles from F1 cars to Land Speed Record breakers. The course was one that you would expect to take a light SUV over and the Swift, on road tyres, took everything in its stride and I honestly doubt if an owner would ever venture onto such terrain with a hatchback. The Swift AWD is pretty unique in offering such a system and I can see it as an added safety when driving in wet, slippery conditions.
The Swift AWD also delivers a high level of standard equipment, auto air con, sat nav, LED headlamps, rear electric windows, dual sensor brake support, yet another very welcome safety aid and adaptive cruise control. The sports-like styling is enhanced by a set of polished sixteen inch alloy wheels.
In order to raise adrenalin further Mr Parry and team had organised a lunch break with a difference a high speed crossing to the Isle of Wight on a RIB, powered by Suzuki of course. Suzuki outboards are used to power a variety of craft from safety boats to general support vessels. Lightweight and compact the outboard engines deliver plenty of low end torque, instant throttle response, smooth acceleration and fast top end speed. I had the opportunity to enjoy both V6 engines, 250 and 350bhp. Because of their structure they are ideal for twin installation. If you thought motorsport brought excitement, then should the opportunity arise take a whirl on a RIB, you will not be disappointed.