suzuki

The future of motoring is not an electric SEAT scooter

MY FEET have, I reckon, just about recovered. The one thing that always sticks with me after seeing the 3000 cars at the Classic Motor Show every November are the blister plasters. It’s a brilliant show, but it takes a lot of walking to get around it all.

Happily, the boffins at SEAT have been working on a solution (which is weird, because I’ve been to Barcelona’s classic show, and it’s nowhere near as big as ours). Turn up to a big car event – or indeed, any supermarket, school fun day or any other outing that involves a long walk at the end – in one of their cars and you’ll be able to turn to their, ahem, “electric urban mobility solution”.

That’s how SEAT’s top team of engineers have put it, but in Layman’s English it’s a folding electric scooter. Which, as far as I can make out, brilliantly answers a question that nobody’s ever asked.

The eXS KickScooter, to give SEAT’s newest offering its full name, responds to what the Spanish carmaker reckons is a growing demand for people, fed up with being stuck in traffic jams, to ditch their Ibizas and Atecas and do the last mile of their journey on something else. Anything else. Yet surely, if it’s a single, measly mile, you’d just walk?

Aha! SEAT have already thought of that. The KickScooter can, on a full charge, actually crack closer to 25 miles, but if you were going to do the equivalent of Southport to Crosby and back, there’s no way you’re going to do it on anything that looks as ridiculous as this. You’d either do it in the car or, if traffic really were that consistently awful, on any number of Yamaha, Honda, Suzuki or Piaggio scooters designed from the off with that task in mind. Even if you lived in the busiest bits of Central London – which you don’t, because you’re a Champion reader – you’d give all this electric folding scooter stuff a steer, park up at Cockfosters and hop on the Piccadilly Line.

Happily, I realised there is a scenario where the eXS KickScooter makes perfect sense. I was in Edinburgh the other day and needed to get from one part of Scotland’s capital city to the other, minus the use of a car, and it was a long walk from the nearest bus stop. Here I’d have killed to get my hands on a SEAT scooter – because I’d left my car 300 miles away and got the train up instead.

So, it’s a motoring spin-off that only works if you don’t have a car. I’ll stick to the Leon Cupra and the occasional stroll, if you don’t mind…

Suzuki Swift – superb, but where’s the fun?

Suzuki has made its Swift better than ever - but not as much fun
THE OTHER night a couple of us went for a meal in Southport where the service wasn’t great – so much so that one poor bloke actually started bellowing rather loudly, in a fashion not at all inspired by Jeremy Clarkson, about his lack of freshly cooked steak.

I’ve had many more evenings out that’ve run more successfully, but I know already that it’ll be this one, and the one at the Yorkshire pub where a cold ciabatta arrived covered in hair and the Aberystwyth café where what arrived wasn’t even close to what we’d ordered, that I remember when I’m old and grey. It’s weird – but you tend to forget things that run smoothly.

So maybe it’s not a good thing that I have such vivid memories of the old Suzuki Swift – and particularly, its go-faster Sport sibling. Long-time Life On Cars readers will know that I’ve long had a soft spot for this petite Oriental offering precisely because it feels like a supermini from the old school – what it lacked in gadgets it more than made up for with its revvy engines, scrabbly handling and general sense of not being an ounce heavier or an inch wider than it needed to be. If you ever misspent your youth in an early Fiesta or a Vauxhall Nova, you’ll know exactly what I mean.

Even in non-Sport form I had a real fondness for the 2005-generation model and for its 2011 successor, so I was genuinely excited when I was chucked the keys to the latest version. Having now spent a weekend with the S-ZT model I can report that it’s much better than the outgoing car – and bizarrely, slightly worse.

I am, for instance, a big fan of the three-cylinder BoosterJet one-litre petrol engine beneath its bonnet, which might only have 109bhp to hand but it uses a turbocharger and an insatiable appetite for revs to really make the most of it. It only weighs 925kg too – 200 less than an EcoBoost Fiesta – so it always manages to feel sprightly heading away from the lights.

I like how roomy it is inside too, particularly in the back, and how much more refined it feels on the move, particularly on motorways. It’s also pretty generously equipped too, with an infotainment system and heated door mirrors on the one I tried, and it consistently returned a fairly impressive 55mpg. Even with my right foot doing the bidding.

But – and I know this will sound like the moanings of that miscontent bloke who’s missed out on his dinner – it feels as though in making it ever more refined Suzuki’s somehow managed to engineer a lot of the fun out. Chuck it into a corner and there’s plenty of grip, and it’ll go where you want it to, but the sense of mischief the old models had is gone. It’s as though the Swift has reached the point the Golf did 20 years ago – it’s a thoroughly grown-up car that you really can’t knock, but maybe, just maybe, it’s got a bit sensible in its old age.

I am prepared, of course, to reserve all judgement until I’ve tried the latest Swift Sport, though. Watch this space…