First Drive

First Drive: Suzuki Swift Sport

The story:
Suzuki’s warm hatch has always been a gem of a pocket rocket, small and fun with emissions that won’t scare fleet drivers. This is the Japanese brand’s third-generation of Swift Sport.
Key rival:Volkswagen Up
Suzuki Swift Sport
On sale:Now

Simplicity has always been at the heart of the Suzuki Swift Sport, and that remains the case with this third-generation version.

The performance stats mean that this is a hatchback that falls into the ‘warm’ category, falling slightly short of hot hatches like the new Ford Fiesta ST and Vauxhall Corsa VXR for power and pace. However, it actually sits in a spot of its own, because it’s bigger and more powerful than the new VW Up GTI.

This new Swift Sport comes with a smaller engine than the outgoing model, but the 1.4-litre version now has a turbocharger and produces a slightly higher 138hp, and manages a 0-62mph time of 8.1 seconds. One big advantage the Swift has over its rivals, though, is its weight. At 975kg, it is at least 120kg lighter than all of its rivals, even the tiny Up GTI, and 70kg lighter than the old model, which is an astonishing achievement.Suzuki Swift Sport - Image 8This translates wonderfully into on-road entertainment; the Swift has retained its simple, no-nonsense perkiness and feels really agile. Everything from the solid and reassuring steering to the firm but excellently controlled suspension and body control makes this enjoyable to drive.

The turbocharged engine is smooth in a way that will be reassuring to those that liked the progressive nature of the old model, and it benefits from a significant increase in torque. This means that, should you wish, you can keep gearchanges to a minimum – it will cope with all manner of tight corners and faster straights without venturing out of third and fourth gear.

That’s a good thing because the gearshift is about the car’s only weak spot. Suzuki says that it has reduced the distance the lever has to travel to change gears by 10%, but it could do with being sharpened further. The lever also offers too much resistance when heading into some of the ratios – first in particular.Suzuki Swift Sport - Image 7At £17,779, the P11D price might have risen from the headline-grabbing low starting point of the previous version, but the Swift now has more kit to compensate. Suzuki is also keen that buyers don’t see an increase in their monthly payments, so fleet lease rates are likely to be favourable, too, especially if the company is to make good on its intention to improve its corporate sales.


Tom webster

The verdict

Entertaining warm hatch with an excellent level of equipment and on-road manner.