I tested the Suzuki Swift three-door two years ago and liked it a lot. In fact, I liked it more than a lot, finding only two significant faults: a slight shortage of power and an awkward front seat folding mechanism that made access to the rear seats a pain for driver and passenger alike.
Suzuki has given us more power, albeit just 136hp, arguing (quite rightly) that the power on offer makes for a nicely balanced hot hatch that remains as cheap to insure as it is to buy. It has also added a couple more doors, turning a sporty-but-selfish three-door into an accommodatingfive-door. Lets take one for a two-weekreview, shall we?
Twin exhausts and a roof spoiler are never going to look bad, are they? Throw in a set of 17-inch alloy wheels and rear tinted glass and you have a great looking car,even in white. The Swift is available in four exterior colours: white, blue, silver, and black I liked blue the best.
The extra doors do little, if anything, to disrupt the flowing lines and certainly dont detract from the Swift Sports, er, sporty looks. They do make it much easier to sit in the back, which is what they were designed to do, so we can call it an all-roundwin on the outside.
Now Suzuki has made it easier to get in and out of the rear seats, I can concentrate on whinging about the drivers seat, which is still too high even on its lowest setting. That this is the sum total of my complaints about the interior says much about it.The front seats are some of the most comfortable Ive ever sat in.
The relationship of the driver’s seat to the steering wheel and pedals is perfect too; it’s idealfor blipping the throttle while braking and changing down gears for a bit of a racing feel.
Yes, the interiorfeels a bit cheap in places but this is a cheap car and,more importantly,a light one.The Swift Sport weighs just 1,045kg,even when it’s packedwith air-con, Bluetooth, cruise control, a tilt-and-telescopic adjusting steering wheel and sat-nav. That light weightmakes for a beautifully balanced car that is a joy to drive.
You can only buy the Swift Sport in one trim level and there arent any optional extras either. This simplifies things considerablyand saves you spending money on things you dont need. It also means you wont add any weight, which is something you reallydont want to do in a car that drives so well because of its lightness.
The Swift Sport is one of the best-balanced hatchbacks you can drive, regardless of price. It stays poised and balanced no matter how you throw it around and if you drive it right it is also wonderfully grippy and nimble; empty roundabouts become chicanes and the wide-open curves of north Wales could have been designed with the little Swift in mind.
The steering is sometimes deflected by bumps at high speed,but it is completely self-correcting and more of an irritation than a danger.
Otherwise the Swift iscomfortable at low speeds and stable at higher ones, thanks in large part to some top-classsuspension components.
The brakes are powerful and beyond reproach, offering fade-free, progressive,consistent stopping power, and theydon’t have the grabbiness of some of the car’s competitors.
The 1.6-litre engine now develops 136hp and 118lb ft of torque, which isnt a lot in the greater scheme of things but is more than we had before and is more than enough. There is a joy to be had from retaining momentum and not relying on sheer power to drive quickly; youll find you brake less and observe more. Youll also use every one of the 7,000rpm on offer…
Im not saying I wouldnt like a little bit more power, of course I would, but I didnt ever actually need any more. Thats a distinction that some manufacturers and journalists dont appreciate.
The top speed of 121mph is reached after a 0-62mph sprintof 8.7 seconds.That isnt amazing, but if you want pub bragging rights then you should look elsewhere because the Swifts charms are more subtle, and you can’t tell everything about the car from its performance figures.
One figure that prospective buyers will want to know about is the fuel economy figure.The Swift Sports official combined fuel consumption is 44.1mpg, but Igot 45.4mpg and wasn’t drivingwith economy in mind.
Value for money
The five-door Swift Sport costs 14,499. You could save 500 by buying the three-door but it’s worth spending the extra.
The engine isnt the last word in sophistication, and emits 147g/km of CO2, whichplacesit into Vehicle Excise Duty (VED)band F. Still, no ones perfect, are they?
Review cars usually stay with me for a week. The Swift, for logistical reasons out of my control, stayed for two. As a consequence I did far more miles in it than I would normally,and most of them were just for the hell of it. Neverhave I been so grateful for a press-fleetlogjam leaving a car with me for longer than planned.
My standard reply when Im asked what hot-hatch to buy goes like this: for 10,000 buy an MG3. For 15,000 buy a Suzuki Swift Sport, for 20,000 a Ford Fiesta ST, and for 25,000 a SEAT Leon Cupra. Nothing has changed.