Road Test: Suzuki Swift Sport
Price: £13,499 Fuel: 44.1mpg CO2: 147g/km
With its slightly plasticky interior and tall, boxy silhouette, the Suzuki Swift isn’t the most European-feeling car in its segment. But, for any minor faults you can pick with it, the Swift makes up for the lot in spades by being a characterful, affordable little car that’s a good steer regardless of its usually small power output.
That stripped back, no-frills approach translates brilliantly into hot hatch form, and the driver appeal of the Swift Sport is widely recognised by the motoring press and a loyal band of enthusiasts. You’ll find no gearshift paddles on the steering wheel, no fancy touch screen satellite navigation system and no stop/start gubbins to get in the way here. Just the basics needed to make your commute a lot less dull.
There’s a modest-sounding 136bhp on tap, but the little 1.6-litre petrol engine makes you work for every bit, coming on song as it roars over 4,000rpm and begging you to wring the power out of each gear. Every response from the throttle, brakes and steering feels pin sharp and there’s loads of grip, adding up to a very involving drive. It’s all very entertaining.
Wind it back a little and you’ll find the qualities of the standard Swift are back in play. Acres of headroom, a practical square back end for large loads and city-friendly manoeuvrability, which can be stretched to over 45mpg with strong willpower. This is no more difficult to live with than any other car in the range.
It’s true that few of the interior plastics feel dated, as does the LCD display on the iPod-compatible audio system, but it feels like it’ll last and most modern-day essentials are included. Red-stitched sports seats, steering wheel and gearstick gaiter help it to feel the part.
So the Swift Sport is a reminder of what hot hatches always used to do best – real-world practicality and running costs that just so happen not to come at the expense of a fun drive home. This much entertainment rarely comes in such an affordable package.
Swift Sport may not be the most powerful or the fastest small hot hatch available, but it’s a source of massive enjoyment for mid-spec supermini money and won’t cost the earth to run either – factors which place this among the cream of the crop in the hot hatch sector.