Main article: Suzuki Cultus
The Swift began as a marketing and manufacturing rebadge of the Suzuki Cultus, a supermini (or subcompact) manufactured and marketed worldwide across three generations and four body configurations — 3-door hatchback, 4-door sedan, 5-door hatchback and 2-door convertible — and using the Suzuki G engine family. The car was marketed in the JDM (Japanese domestic market) as the Cultus and elsewhere as the Suzuki Forsa, Chevrolet Sprint and Sprint Metro, Geo and Chevrolet Metro, Pontiac Firefly, Maruti 1000, Holden Barina, Subaru Justy, Suzuki Jazz, and Suzuki Swift. Versions of the Generation II Cultus were also produced until 2007 in India — and remain in production today in Pakistan.
The Generation IV Swift debuted at the Paris Auto Salon in September 2004 to compete in the European B segment with the Peugeot 206, Opel Corsa and the Fiat Punto. This generation of the Swift marked a significant departure with the previous Cultus-based models, with Suzuki re-designing the vehicle as less of a "low price alternative" subcompact and more of a "sporty" subcompact. The Swift's design and driving characteristics focused on the European market with its chassis refined through a road-testing program across Europe.