What is it?
Every model range needs its “halo” car, the one that will get the motoring press talking and set the showrooms alight. This is the Swift’s halo car ‒ a warm hatchback with three doors, sporty styling (rear spoiler, twin exhaust pipes and 17in alloy wheels) and a 1.6-litre engine directing 136hp to the front wheels via a six-speed gearbox.
So far, and for the most part, so predictable, except that the £13,749 Swift Sport is a little different from the pack in some useful and refreshing ways. They’re ways car buyers are not wholly blind to because since the model’s launch in January 2012, 1100 new Sports have been sold ‒ around 10% of total Swift sales. That may not sound a lot but Suzuki is a relative tiddler in the UK market and in any case, it means the Sport is just that little bit more exclusive.
The little car really is the sum of its, very good, parts. First, it’s light. The Swift weighs just 1045kg at the kerb compared with a Mini Cooper’s 1150kg. Lightness means less mass, means quicker responses. The Swift has very quick responses. Its steering is fast and just the right side of light; you always know which way the wheels are pointing. It grips corners as if its 17in wheels were shod with Velcro. Of course, none of this would amount to much were body roll to fling you about like socks in the wash. Happily, the little Swift remains upright throughout. Thanks to those tall wheels and a well balanced suspension set-up, it’s supple riding, too.
The engine is a jewel: normally aspirated where many rivals rely on forced induction, smooth revving (it develops peak power just shy of the 7200rpm redline without complaint) and muscular. It feels easily capable of besting Suzuki’s claimed 8.7 seconds for the 0-62mph sprint and indeed, one publication claims to have cracked it in 7.9 seconds. The six-speed gearbox has a range of well-chosen ratios and a strongly sprung selector action that locates them for you. Its weak spot is the clutch. The pedal has too much travel and especially in stop-start urban driving raising your foot to operate it becomes tiring.
If you were being kind you might say that when a car is this much fun to drive, the cabin doesn’t have to try too hard to please. True, the Swift’s is extremely roomy. A 6ft 5in colleague who usually complains about being forced into a ball in most cars, had nothing but praise for the Swift’s generous leg and headroom. He even managed to slot his wide shoulders into the deeply winged sports seats. The rear cabin will take a couple of more average-size occupants while the boot is, just, big enough for a week’s shopping. And the Swift does boast seven airbags, privacy glass, auto air conditioning, Bluetooth connectivity and cruise control. But there the good times, at least in the cabin, come to an abrupt end. It’s very dark in there, made more so by black door panels and a black, conservatively styled fascia that betrays little of the car’s sporting intent.
Deeply impressive and top-value warm hatch that is refreshingly different from the pack
The keen engine, fine ride, sharp handling and roomy cabin
The not so good
Dull interior, long clutch travel
The one to buy
There's only one: Suzuki Swift Sport
- 1586cc, 4 cylinders
- 136hp @ 7000rpm
- 118 lb ft @ 4400rpm
- 6-speed manual
- 0-62mph in 8.7sec
- Top speed:
- 44.1mpg (combined)
- Road tax band:
- F (£135 a year, £135 thereafter)
- L 3890mm, W 1695mm, H 1510mm
Or buy used for similar money
2012 12 Mini Cooper 3dr (122bhp)
2012 12 Skoda Fabia 1.4 TSI 180 vRS 5dr
2012 12 Citroën DS3 150bhp THP DSport
Published January 2013Tweet