Group Test: Superminis

A group test of three superminis, written for Professional Manager magazine

Suzuki Swift

One of the more individual Supermini on the road, the Swift is also one of the smallest, though all models boast five doors. That, along with its firmish suspension, makes it great for chucking around but it also means that it doesn’t need a beefy engine. The 1.3 DDIS diesel has lots of torque low down – a very impressive 140 pound feet – so never feels laboured and it can also return 72mpg.

On SZ4 spec it wants for nothing – including a whopping seven airbags, Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control and automatic air conditioning – meaning this is one of the best cars in the sector for providing bang for your buck. Do consider the cheaper petrol 1.2 engine though – the diesel premium may not be worth it for smaller annual mileages.

All told the Swift is rather delightful, though. Yes it will keep the money men happy with its high fuel economy and low emissions but it’s a pleasant departure from the other cars in the sector too.

The Swift looks lovely – an individual in a rather homogenous sector
Punchy diesel engine is not outgunned on the motorway
Excellent handling is a pleasant surprise

The Swift is undeniably small – boot size is 211 litres only
Premium for diesel may not be worth it
They couldn’t quite squeeze it under 100g/km

Citroen DS3

Certainly the looker in the segment, people thought Citroen were mad to lend their coveted DS badge to a series of re-engineered models. But no-one’s laughing now. The DS3 is one of the best cars on the road, period, with superb looks inside and out, a range that includes some of the best engines in the world and a reputation for tempting user-choosers into French metal.

Why? Well, the 1.6-litre Airdream model can return a gnat’s whisker short of 80mpg, emitting a lowly 91g/km of CO2 on the way. That means zero road tax and zero congestion charge – for the time being anyway. DSport trim is blingy and useful – with Bluetooth, leather interior, black alloys, cruise control, chrome styling touches and sculpted front seats.

If that’s not enough head up the model range for the THP petrol engines. But if you can’t afford them the DS3 is pretty much as good as it gets in this sector for style with more than a dash of common sense.

Boot space is nudging up towards 300 litres
One of the best-driving Supermini on the road
Stunning looks; highly customisable

Rear space is indifferent
Some buyers may find performance doesn’t match styling
Higher specced models are rather pricey

Honda Jazz

Something of an elder statesman in the sector, the Jazz is the largest Supermini on the block and quietly reliable too. No head-turner, this one, it just does the job it’s required to do while raising an eyebrow at the more expansive models in the sector.

The ace up the sleeve is the Jazz’s 399 litres of boot space – a phenomenal amount that put may much larger cars to shame. The bulletproof engine, excellent build quality and rather gentle road manner may also appeal to a certain kind of buyer.

Despite only offering a petrol engine, the 1.4-litre lump is capable – it returns over 50mpg and never feels outpaced. – but there’s a hybrid available too. The Jazz may be getting on a bit but it can still show the youngsters some moves.

Massive interior space for a car in this sector
Superb build quality
Hybrid model may be a big, green tick for eco-minded fleets

Conservative looks and handling may not inspire
Prices are heavy at high specs
The Jazz is not in the first flush of youth

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