HERE’S a puzzler. How can the most exciting part of a car launch happen on water?
The clue is Suzuki whose outboard marine engines are number one in the world and we had a 350hp V6 on the back, or should I say stern, of a six man inflatable dinghy for 40 mad but marvellous minutes on the Solent.
It was all part of a little treat for travelling 230 miles to the south coast to drive the Swift Attitude.
I will get to the car shortly but at the time of writing the adrenalin is still pumping after scooting to the Needles at 45 knots, bouncing across the wake of the other two Rib craft in our party and banking at what felt like insane angles for some tight circling. The last time I had this much fun was being driven in a Citroen rally car.
Enough, let’s get back to business and the Attitude. Not so much a new model, just a special edition to keep the Swift kettle boiling. Swift is Suzuki’s hero model and deserves all the credit going.
I liked it from the day it was launched in sunny Monaco in 2004 and it has got better and better. The only surprise is that the message has not got through to more people although Swift is off to a good start this year with more retail sales than Renault Clio, Citroen C3 and Mazda2 and is currently sitting behind the Honda Jazz in the supermini league table.
Attitude is based on the SZ-T, one above base, and has been spiced up with a mesh front grille, rear roof spoiler and front, side and rear carbon effect skirts along with polished alloys.
You get this for an extra 100 quid over the SZ-Ts £14,499 price tag. What you don’t get is that model’s 1-litre Boosterjet engine. Attitude has to make do with the lesser powered 1.4 litre Dualjet, not a bad motor but not as feisty as the brilliant Boosterjet which is arguably the best three-cylinder one-litre engine on the market.
I would be tempted to forego the Attitude’s extra body armour in favour of the Boosterjet engine yet Suzuki is confident Attitude will have a broad appeal predicting it will take 40 per cent of Swift sales.
In a head to head it fares better on price than Ford Fiesta, Seat Ibiza, Nissan Micra and Hyunai i20 according to Suzuki research and does not do badly on specification either.
All Swifts get air conditioning, six airbags, privacy glass, DAB radio with Bluetooth but Attitude moves up a rung and apart from the body styling upgrades has rear view camera, Smartphone link display audio among the highlights of its spec list.
As has always been the case Swift is a great little car to drive darting though twists and turns without so much as a bye or leave and although I prefer the Boosterjet performance the 1.4 is no slouch and is good for 50mpg.
This is not going to be a great year for car sales but Suzuki is enjoying the highest market share in its history. Fleet growth is strong with Vitara and Swift popular choices so it is confident of hitting 38,000 sales just 500 down on last year. It could do more but it can’t get enough supply for some of its models.
1,2 Dualjet; 90bhp
0-62mph 11.9secs; 111mph
108g/km. 1st year road tax £150
Insurance group 25