JOHANNESBURG - Good old-fashioned value for money driving. That sums up what you feel after a couple of days in the Suzuki Swift, one of the most popular budget cars on the road, judging from sales records and how many you see driving about.

The Swift has been around for a few years but received a make-over last year putting a fresh spin on what was already a winning recipe.

We at Drive360 and IOL Motoring have it in our garage as a long-term test car. We enjoyed driving it around especially as a city car.

It’s a little bit different looking to your run-of-the-mill small car with big headlamps, blacked out front and centre pillars as well as a blacked top section on the rear pillar.

A nice touch is the rear door handles that are placed in the C pillar .

The large Suzuki badge emblazons the grille while from the back it still has that curvaceous look, thanks to the new car being 40mm wider than its predecessor with LED lamps and a high-level LED stop lamp below a not-too-obvious roof spoiler. It’s also 10mm shorter but the front track is 40mm wider and the rear 35mm wider.

This has allowed more interior space especially in the back and with a strapping teenage son sitting behind me, he had enough room to be comfortable while the driving position wasn’t too compromised.

Boot space is 268 litres and with a 60/40 split and foldable rear bench there’s space to store kit and bags for at least three high school boys’ daily school and sport activity luggage.

With a centre console angled towards the driver and a flat-bottomed steering wheel with controls for the audio system and telephone, the Swift comes across very much as a driver’s car and even though it’s powered by a 1.2 litre normally aspirated four cylinder engine, it’s fun to drive.

The engine pushes out 61kW and 113Nm and does need a bit of a thrashing through the five-speed manual gearbox to keep it alive, but like all Suzuki engines it doesn’t mind that.

The shifts are light and precise and in stop-start traffic, Suzuki have added “creep” function to ease the driving load, but I think the automatic GL rather than the manual we had, would probably be a better fit in that case.

With a well weighted chassis and weighing in at only 875kg the Swift enjoys tackling twists and turns and with a revised suspension set-up that never felt like it would let go, you’ll have lots of fun.

Safety wise you’re taken care of by ABS, EBD, Isofix child seat anchors and two airbags.

The competition in the segment is tough yet Suzuki have managed to score a winner here and at R179 900 considering what you get for your money, the Swift is everything you need and then some.

Drive360