FOR SUCH a little car, the new Suzuki Swift Sport has some pretty big boots to fill. The previous version was one of the best hot hatches money could buy — and the best bit was that you didn’t need very much cash for the privilege.
Still, the omens are good for this new car. Even on paper, the 2018 Swift Sport looks like it could be a winner, as it’s not only lighter than the old one, it’s also more powerful.
In the flesh, too, the new Swift Sport looks the part, and you can wander around it, ticking off all the bits from your I Spy book of Hot Hatches. The honeycomb front grille, deep front bumper and carbon-fibre-effect trim are all present and correct, complementing the twin chrome-tipped exhausts, 17in alloy wheels and red ‘Sport’ badge on the boot.
Inside, likewise, it’s all very “hot hatch”, with a flat-bottomed steering wheel and red detailing everywhere, from the trim on the dashboard to the dials, the centre console and even the stitching on the seats.
Only trouble is, there are also some nasty, cheap-feeling plastics in obvious places; and, while you might be prepared to forgive that, if the car still cost around £14,000 (like the old model), it’s not so good when the new one attracts a £4,000 premium.
Still, at least you get plenty of standard equipment for your money, including some big-car tech, like sat-nav, a reversing camera and automatic emergency braking. But, above all, this dinky new car goes big on the most important feature in any good hot hatch: fun.
Much of that is down to the biggest change in the 2018 model: its turbocharged engine. Because this produces much more torque at lower revs, it responds more keenly than the old car.
As a result, it can cross country every bit as quickly – in fact, it feels much quicker than the relatively modest 0-62mph time suggests – and it isn’t such hard work in everyday life. By anyone’s standards, that has to be a win-win situation.
Another positive side effect is that this new Sport is also more economical than the old car, but that’s probably not a huge concern, if you’re thinking of buying a Swift Sport. Instead, you’ll be more worried about how well the car goes round corners.
Fortunately, the good news there is that the new Swift Sport handles very well. It has lots of grip and that welcome habit of just going where you point it. Through a series of bends, it feels really nimble and you can have great fun just chucking it around — all at speeds that won’t easily endanger your driving licence, and backed up by a reassuringly strong set of brakes.
Above all, what really impresses about the new Swift Sport is just how easy it is to use in everyday life. Even on poor road surfaces, it won’t bounce you around too much; there’s a surprising amount of room in the back; and, the new engine is even more economical than the old one.
It’s a shame that the new Swift Sport isn’t the bargain its predecessor was, and we wish the exhaust sounded a bit more sporty, but the most important thing hasn’t changed at all: it still guarantees to put a huge smile on your face.
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