The Suzuki Swift Sport 1.6-litre petrol three door 'warm' hatch arrived in UK dealerships in January. Around a 1,000 of them will be sold here this year in addition to the 10,000 annual sales of non Sport three and five door, 1.2-litre petrol and 1.3-litre diesel, Swift models.
The Swift is Suzuki's best selling range in the UK with prices starting from £10,660.
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Swift Sport pricing
I did get behind the wheel of the new Swift Sport in November for the international press launch in Barcelona when no prices had been decided upon. A 'guesstimate' said £14,500 so it came as a welcome surprise this year when the 134bhp Swift Sport arrived with a price tag of £13,499.
Now that is a very competitive price against its main competitors, the Mini Cooper, Citroen DS3, Ford Fiesta Zetec S and Vauxhall Corsa VXR. As well as a distinct price advantage over the competition, the new Swift Sport is significantly improved over the previous generation version which found 6,000 UK buyers in six years.
The torturous Yorkshire winding and undulating rural roads with odd cambers and broken road surfaces were used to fine-tune the revised and strengthened suspension to provide a more compliant ride than the previous generation model.
The result is impressive because the new Swift Sport has a more compliant ride with really well balanced handling, nearly its strongest sales point after the low purchase price. It is not an out-and-out 'hot hatch' but the suspension and steering responses make it a fun, safe and Swift-ish car to drive whether it is in the hands of the young or young at heart.
The vastly improved ride comfort and compliance offered by the revised and strengthened suspension is a significant reason to own this car for those who appreciate some comfort to go with sporty performance.
The retuning of the suspension involved changing the rebound rates of the springs and using variable rate bushes which are firmer at the front and softer at the rear. The steering has also been significantly improved with firmer bushes to better control camber and toe angles with sharper response and better feedback from the strengthened steering box.
The bodyshell is constructed of high-tensile steel for greater rigidity, strength and it's a little lighter which helps with performance and fuel saving.
Top speed is a modest 121mph with zero to 62mph taking 8.7 seconds, quick enough for most users on our roads. The official fuel consumption is 44.1mpg and my week long test drive over the usual highways and byways was an impressive 42.5mpg, quite close to the official figure.
Exhaust emissions of 147g/km are 10 per cent lower than the previous Swift Sport model so that results in an annual road tax charge of £135 and company car drivers will pay 20 per cent Benefit-in-Kind tax, all better figures than the previous version.
The Swift Sports gets its 'punch' from a revised 1.6-litre, 134bhp, four cylinder petrol variable valve timing engine. But the improvement in performance is no knockout blow despite having more power and more torque than the previous model.
Driven in a sporty manner the high revving engine just doesn't match the performance or response of equally new and similar capacity direct injection petrol units. Most of these use a small turbocharger to inject some responsive zip into acceleration from low engine speed.
Without a turbocharger the 118lb ft of torque from the Swift Sport doesn't arrive until 4,400rpm, a lot higher than the 2,000rpm of similar capacity Ford Ecoboost and Mini/BMW/PSA Peugeot-Citroen/VW units.
This means for the driver constant use of the slick new six speed gearbox to keep the engine revs up and in its powerband. To overtake slower traffic a drop of two or three gears was required. Although thoroughly modern to look at, and in its handling, the new Suzuki Swift Sport is a little 'old-school' in the provision of power department.
Cabin and equipment
Despite it bargain price the Swift Sport is very well equipped and seemingly well made and solid.
The new Sport's exterior has ground hugging looks with side skirts and large 17-inch alloys fill the wheelarches. The large front grille also hints at performance as do the finned fog lamp bezels. Newly developed High-Intensity Discharge headlamps with a metallic-grey coating as well as new design rear combination lamps and twin exhaust chrome tailpipes complete a sporty exterior visual package.
Inside the car there is sports style seating for four people, not potentially five seats as with other members of the latest Swift family. Getting into the rear, because it's a compact three door hatch, is a bit of a no-goer for us tall people but for more agile youngsters it will be acceptable.
The rear seats fold and the boot is reasonably large for a car of this size with 211-litres seats up and 512-litres with the seats folded. The tailgate has an electric catch for easy opening.
Interior features include fabric upholstery together with a five-dial meter cluster that combines easy legibility with an uncluttered look. A start button is also a standard feature. Other items of specification include electrically operated windows and door mirrors, remote central locking, automatic air conditioning, a good sound system with six speakers, cruise control, Bluetooth, on-board computer and tinted glass.
Cheers Suzuki, I enjoyed my Swift-one, especially the Sporty price.
Suzuki Swift Sport 1.6 VVT 3-Door Hatchback
1.6-litre, four cylinder, variable valve timing, 16-valve, petrol multipoint injection, 6-speed manual, 134bhp at 7,000rpm, 160Nm (118lb ft) of torque at 4,400rpm.
121mph, 0-62mph 8.7 seconds, Combined Cycle 44.1mpg (42.5mpg on test), CO2 147g/km, VED road tax £135, BIK company car tax 20%.
L 3,890mm, W 1,695mm, H 1,510mm, boot/load space: 211 to 512-litres.
Very attractive and competitive pricing, improved over the old model with better fuel consumption, lower CO2 emissions, lower taxes and insurance costs, faster, better agility, improved handling, sharper steering, much more compliant and comfortable ride, more equipment, 6-speed gearbox.
The engine lacks torque and response at low rpm, lacks the choice of styling option packs compared to its trendy and sporty competitors.