Suzuki Swift 1.2 SZ-L Special Edition first driveThere is no shortage of bargain buys and finance offers keeping the UK new car sales motoring along again this year.

Customers for mainstream volume selling models now treat their cars as ‘white goods’ fit for their purpose at an affordable price with low or no cost finance terms.

The upsurge in UK new car sales is being driven by retail buyers choosing small cars readily available with low cost finance options. Sales of new cars are now back to pre-recession levels of 2005. In May the market was up by 11% and year to date it’s up by 9%.

Suzuki Swift 1.2 SZ-L Special Edition first driveSuzuki, that big global car maker of small cars has long championed ease of purchase in the UK with their special edition and VAT free finance offers. Last year their UK sales increased again by 22.6% to almost 25,000 units, 10,000 of which were Swift supermini hatchbacks. This year sales are up by a further 33% so their VAT free offers and special edition models certainly work for them in this very competitive market.

The latest reason-to-buy model is the Swift SZ-L special edition supermini available in three door form in their latest VAT free campaign at £10,599 for the three door model and £11,016 for the five door version. Currently Suzuki is making available 500 units of the lower cost SZ-L in a mix of three and five door body styles for the UK market. This offer is due to finish at the end of June but if the demand is there I’m sure it will be continued, if not in this specification, another will be along soon. Why wouldn’t they given their impressive sales performance?

The Swift is Suzuki’s strongest selling range with the highly rated Swift Sport 1.6 three door being the halo version. But the bedrock of sales is the mid-grade 1.2-litre SZ3 on which the SZ-L is based.

All Swift SZ3 models already come well equipped with seven airbags, electronic stability programme, air conditioning, USB port and Bluetooth as standard. Outside, the SZ-L adds a rear upper spoiler, rear privacy glass, unique 16-inch alloy wheels and free metallic paint in a choice of four colours. Moving inside, red accent stitching is added to the steering wheel and gearshift surround as seen on Swift Sport, as well as cruise control.

Suzuki Swift 1.2 SZ-L Special Edition first driveCrucially, the Swift SZ-L offers value for money in terms of running costs and purchase price; the 1.2-litre Dual VVT 93bhp petrol engine is one of the most powerful in its class, but offers low emissions of just 116g/km CO2 costing £30 in annual VED road tax after the first year and returns a frugal 56.5mpg on the combined cycle. This was a figure I almost matched on my week of cost effective motoring with 53.2mpg.

Insurance should prove to be affordable too; the SZ-L is in the low 11E insurance group making it the ideal purchase for younger Swift fans who want to own a more striking, design-led car at a price that isn’t going to break the bank, theirs or more likely the bank of mum and dad.

In addition to the low VAT free price and added specification Suzuki Financial Services has included the SZ-L is available through its popular PCP Driveplan campaign. The SZ-L three door requires a deposit of just £749 followed by 47 monthly payments of £179, plus a small optional final balloon payment at the end of that term to keep the car.

Suzuki Swift 1.2 SZ-L Special Edition first driveStreet-cred is all important in the smart, sporty looking supermini market and the SZ-L visually looks very close to the highly rated Swift Sport three door hatch which costs around £13,750 with its 1.6-litre 134bhp petrol engine which itself is cheaper than competitor MINI Cooper, Citroen DS3 and Fiat 500 models, so the SZ-L looks and even better value for money buy.

So the Swift SZ-L looks good on the outside and the interior is most acceptable. My preference would be the more user-friendly five door model but the three door test car proved to be enjoyable. The Swift SZ-L’s 1.2-litre petrol engine is not as lively as more modern turbocharged small capacity petrol engines such as the VW 1.2 TSI unit or even Ford’s three cylinder 1.0T Ecoboost engine, but it is free-revving and gave an adequate account of itself given its low-ish torque output of only 87lb ft at a high 4,800rpm. Top speed is 103mph and zero to 62mph takes a shade over 12 seconds. Given the bargain price, the likely young or young at heart customers and today’s congested traffic conditions I would happily settle for this lesser performance and think more about how much money I had saved buying it.

Suzuki Swift 1.2 SZ-L Special Edition first driveApart from the bargain price, low running costs and high specification the SZ-L scores well in the handling department being very agile in traffic or on winding country roads and of course its length of 3,850mm makes it easy to park. The steering is sharp and accurate giving good feedback to the driver. The front seats are comfortable and supportive but the suspension can be a bit lively on bumpy road surfaces.

When you consider some of the other budget priced models now available but look at what you get for your money, the Suzuki Swift SZ-L beats them easily for value for money and above all proven quality. Over three million Swifts have been sold worldwide since 2005 so there is no doubt as to their quality and durability even at this special edition low price. Interested? Be quick then just in case the VAT free offer ends or the SZ-L special edition models sell out and no more are made available.

MILESTONES. Suzuki Swift 1.2 SZ-L 3-Door Special Edition. Price: £10,599. Engine/transmission: 1.2-litre, four cylinder , variable valve timing petrol engine, 93bhp, 87lb ft of torque at 4,800rpm, 5-speed manual. Performance: 103mph, 0-62mph 12.3 seconds, 56.5mpg (53.2mpg on test), CO2 116g/km, VED road tax £0 First Year rate then £30 year two onwards, BIK company car tax 14%. Insurance group: 11E. Dimensions/capacities: L 3,850mm, W 1,695mm, H 1,510mm, load space 211 to 512-litres. For: Low real value for money price, low running costs, sporty styling, high specification. Against: Only 500 units available so be quick just in case Suzuki do not extend this unbeatable offer after the end of June. Miles Better News Agency

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