Car review: Suzuki Swift Sport

Carlton Boyce / 27 April 2017

Carlton Boyce assesses what it is that makes the swift Sport so utterly lovely.



Score

9/10

Review

Regular readers will know that I have a soft spot for Suzuki. Its interiors might not traditionally be the best in the class but I find the unburstable mechanicals and feisty engines enormously endearing. 

Regular readers might also recognise the Suzuki Swift Sport name as being my default recommendation in the small hot-hatchback sector because it is colossally good fun – and very cheap.

A car with a lust for life

So, spoiler aside, what is it that makes the Swift Sport so utterly lovely? Well, I could point out the truncated bodyshell, wide wheels, and roof-mounted rear spoiler that remind me irresistibly of the Group B rally Metro 6R4. 

Or the wheels, one at each corner, that promise dodgem-like handling, a pledge that is fulfilled in spades when you stop admiring the way it looks and actually get behind the wheel.


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Or, I could tell you about the rev-happy 1.6-litre engine that might only boast 134bhp and 118 lb/ft of torque but is endowed with such a lust for life that every journey is a lesson in how enough is enough and how any more would be too much. 

It’s not the most high-tech engine in the world these days but there is nothing wrong with the way Suzuki has coaxed and massaged such a lovely power delivery.

Or I might gush about the wrist-snap gearchange that simply begs you to flick your way around the six-speed gearbox to make the very most of each and every one of those precious horses. It is so beautifully weighted and such a joy to use that I was able to change up and down the gearbox without my passenger being able to feel a thing. (Stop sniggering at the back.)

Or I could wax lyrical about the suspension, which might be common-or-garden MacPherson struts up front and a simple torsion beam axle at the back but is so carefully tuned and damped as to render anything more complex unnecessary; no one in the class balances comfort with precision and agility as well as the Swift Sport and few corner as well, either.

It pivots pleasingly beneath your bum and I defy anyone who has driven it to take issue with the way in which it scurries down the road. I like lightweight rear-wheel-drive cars but I could easily be persuaded to come over to the dark side if every front-wheel-drive car drove as well as this.

A touch too small to be a four-seater

You might counter my schoolboy enthusiasm by reminding me that the Swift’s interior is a touch too small to be a full-time four-seater, something I’d acknowledge by pointing out that such a small bodyshell comes with a featherweight 1,045kg kerb weight, endowing the Suzuki with a power-to-weight ratio that is almost identical to the original Peugeot 1.6-litre 205GTI. 

If you then went on to point out that the driver’s seat is mounted too high, I’d counter with, well, I wouldn’t counter it with anything because you’d be absolutely right.

But that a seat that is mounted too high for someone above the 95th percentile isn’t the end of the world, although it probably does rule the Swift Sport out for me. (It also robs the Swift Sport of a solitary mark; if the seat was lower it would have been one of the few cars that I awarded 10/10 this year.)

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Everything you need and nothing you don’t

Choosing which model to go for is easy too, because there is only one trim level, but even that is OK because it’s got everything you need and nothing you don’t and the time saved agonising in the showroom and online can be better spent out on the open road anyway. 

So, you can have a three-door for £14,149 or a five-door for £14,649. I’d go for the more expensive of the two as the seats in the cheaper car don’t return to their original position after you’ve tipped them forward to give access to the rear seat, something that gets tedious really quickly.

If you think I’m being unprofessionally uncritical, then I can only suggest that you go and test drive one yourself. If you do, I’m willing to bet that you’ll come up with a few superlatives too, although if you’re tall you’ll probably moan about that bloomin’ driver’s seat too…

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Stats

Power – 134bhp

Torque – 118 lb ft

0-62mph – 8.7 seconds

Top speed – 121mph

Kerb weight – 1045kgs

Official average fuel consumption – 44.1mpg

Honest John real world fuel consumption – 42.9mpg

CO2 emissions – 147g/km

VED class – Band F

Warranty – 3 yrs/60,000 miles

Price – £14,149

Price as tested - £14,149

Best-in-class

The Suzuki Swift Sport is the very definition of perfectly balanced. You can’t have more fun for less money.

The best of the rest

The Ford Fiesta ST is more expensive but it is much faster. I’d save £5,000 by plumping for the Japanese car but if you need more speed then who am I to argue?

Left-field alternative

The Mazda MX-5 might not be an obvious alternative, but given the Swift’s tiny rear seats you might as well forego them altogether and stump up the extra £4,000 to buy the best value sportscar on sale today.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.