During my time with the Swift Sport I was overtaken by a young guy in a Peugeot 205 GTI and it struck me that this is what the wee Suzuki is reminiscent of. Okay, so crisp-packet build quality and lethal lift-off oversteer have been bred out but at heart what we have is a lightweight, agile car that wrings every last drop out of a small motor for maximum entertainment.
Suzuki Swift Sport
Price: From £14,649
Engine: 1.6-litre, four-cylinder, petrol
Top speed: 121mph
0-62mph: 8.7 seconds
Economy: 44.1mpg combined
CO2 emissions: 147g/km
The Swift Sport’s naturally-aspirated 1.6-litre petrol puts out a relatively meagre 134bhp – not much in this world of 200bhp Fiestas and Corsas. It’s an engine that needs to be pushed hard to get the most from it. There’s no wafting about on the torque like in rivals, here you need to work the Swift like in the good old days of the 205 GTI. At low revs not a lot happens but get the Swift spinning above 4,000rpm and you’ll start to make good progress. In the higher rev range the Swift is responsive and quick, and sounds like a small, high-revving four-pot should.
In terms of raw 0-60 times it’s never going to compete with its turbocharged rivals but traffic light sprints aren’t the be-all and end-all. Where the Swift really comes alive is on the narrow, twisting back roads.
The Swift Sport weighs little more than a tonne and has tiny overhangs, giving it that corner-at-each-wheel go-kart agility that really makes a hot hatch.
Where the big beasts of the hot hatch world tackle country roads like an attack dog, leaving them shredded in a cloud of power and snarling aggression, the Swift is more terrier-like. It’s quick on its feet, darting from corner to corner and responding instantly to inputs to the beautifully weighted steering. The car’s lack of mass offers a nimbleness that no amount of extra power could replace.
Much like the recent Fiat 124 Spider the Swift Sport proves that it’s not all about brake horsepower when it comes to having fun. A good, responsive chassis and bit of character go a long way.
In modern hot hatch terms the Swift Sport is not an expensive car, starting at £14,649. For that you get automatic climate control, sat nav, DAB radio, cruise control and keyless entry and go.
You can see where money’s been saved in the interior, with some low-grade materials but the Swift Sport is still packed with equipment that all works well and it has a fantastic driving position.
Frankly, it’s hard to think of any new car that’ll offer so much fun for less than £15,000.
And with the new model due to hit our shores this year you might well find there’s even more of a bargain to be had.
Ford Fiesta ST Line
Price: From £16,595
A fantastic-handling warm hatch but interior is dated and less well equipped than the Swift
Vauxhall Corsa Black Edition
Price: From £17,920
Packs 148bhp and plenty of sporty styling cues but costs a lot more
Price: From £15,625
Has style to spare and high-end interior but is a big, heavy beast compared with the Swift