When we found out Suzuki had an event with a Euro-only 2008 Suzuki Swift just a short distance from Chicago we jumped at the chance to take it for a quick spin. A volume seller in Europe, Asia and other markets, the Swift has a mostly inglorious past here in the states as the almost indistinguishable cousin of the Geo Metro between 1995 and 2001. Anyone who has driven either might wonder what made us so excited about the prospect of driving this particular Swift. There are two reasons. The first is that there's more than an ocean's worth of difference between that Swift of old and this completely reworked global compact car. The second reason is that although this particular version wasn't meant for American consumption, one similar to it will be here as a U.S.-spec model. Also, I'm not crazy enough to pass on an opportunity to drive one of the only two new Swifts in the US.
A little background. The event was part of a series taking place around the country meant primarily for Suzuki dealers to show off the new SX4 Sport model. Coming along for the ride is the Kizashi 3 concept car, one of the Suzuki Equator pre-production concepts and the Swift Suzuki was kind enough to let us drive. Though sporting a bright orange metallic paint and wheels of questionable origin, this car was a fairly standard mid-level version, sporting the 1.5-liter fourbanger good for about 100 horsepower. Though they have a five-speed manual version back at HQ, this particular model unfortunately carried the four-speed automatic.