The cost of a tank of fuel has gone berserk so what we need are cars that can squeeze every mile out of every drop of petrol.
Diesel used to be the answer but not anymore with it costing an extra 10p a litre, or 45p a gallon. Hard to believe, isn’t it?
Unless you are ready to go down the electric car road the way to go is hybrid and here is a good one that might not be on a top five shopping list. Suzuki Swift has not got the badge pulling power of supermini favourites like Fiesta, Peugeot 208 or Skoda Fabia but maybe it should because it can top 60 miles to the gallon.
For the record Swift, in its current shape, has been around since 2005 and unlike its competitors has not changed a great deal mainly because they got it right first time becoming the Japanese Mini with a shape that tells its own story.
Plenty has happened under the skin and the third generation facelift is the most significant. There have been a few nips and tucks to pretty up the body but the big changes are out of site – a new platform and self-charging hybrid technology.
Until now Swift’s 1.2 litre engine has been restricted to what they call ‘mild’ hybrid which lowers emissions and sharpens the stop-start response. But the new Dualjet engine’s 12V hybrid is now self-charging and done wonders for economy. The new unit has lifted fuel consumption from low fifties to all but 60mpg and I did even better returning 62.6mpg over 400 miles which in my book is outstanding.
The downside, if indeed you can call it a downside with today’s fuel prices, is lack lustre performance. Swift by name but certainly not swift by nature. Acceleration is tame and flat in the mid-range so whipping down a couple of gears and a taking little more time is the way forward when overtaking.
That said Swift is a smashing car to drive with sharp steering, good balance and poise when pushed, the sort of car to make the perfect hot hatch and you can get close to that with the Swift Sport model.
Swift has not grown in size but the new platform has created a little more cabin space so there is ample room for four adults, even tall people, because headroom is excellent. Probably best to avoid three in the back, it would get a bit cramped.
Boot space has never been a strong point for Swift and still isn’t although a few extra litres have been found.
There is a big drop into the boot well which is not ideal but without it the boot would be a good deal smaller. A two-level floor is common enough these days and would solve the problem. How often do we use all the boot space anyway?
There is no doubting Swift’s value for money with a strong spec at entry level. LED headlights, air conditioning, rear view camera and Smartphone link with DAB radio all part of the package while on the safety front you get automatic emergency braking, blind spot warning, and adaptive cruise control.
Notable additions at SZ5 level are navigation and keyless entry.
Against its rivals Swift is well priced although this facelift would have been the time to take a critical look at the cabin trim which has far too much hard plastic and gives that cheap look.
But you can’t help coming back to the conclusion that Swift is an enduring, loveable car and one of the most economic superminis money can buy.
Swift SZ5 Hybrid
£18,499 (starts (£15,499)
1.2 litre Dualjet; 83bhp
0-62mph 13.1secs; 112mph
106g/km. 1st tax £180
Insurance group 20
Boot: 265-579 litres