Suzuki Swift Sport: Third report

10 Oct, 2012 10:30am James Disdale

Swift Sport feels light and agile – and the handbook confirms it’s a featherweight in its class

It was legendary Lotus founder Colin Chapman who claimed that one of the best ways to boost performance was to ‘simplify and add lightness’. This is clearly a philosophy that Suzuki approves of, because our Swift Sport is so fast and fleet that it feels as if it’s been given a lighter-than-air lift.

A quick glance at the handbook reveals that our pocket rocket tips the scales at just 1,040kg, which is a whopping 229kg less than a VW Polo GTI. As a result, the Swift shares the same immediacy of response and eager agility on the move that mark out the great lightweight driver’s cars, like the Lotus Elise and Caterham Seven.

Turn the chunky three-spoke steering wheel and the Suzuki responds instantly, diving into corners with minimal body roll and bags of grip. And while the 1.6-litre petrol engine develops a modest 134bhp, it’s more than enough to provide the featherweight Swift with eager acceleration, particularly once the revs climb above 4,000rpm. But agile handling and strong performance aren’t the only benefits of a low kerbweight.

For instance, the Swift recently spent two days pounding flat out around a race circuit for a forthcoming feature. And while the heavier hot hatches in our test left the event with worn tyres and wilted brakes, the Suzuki felt as fresh as it did when it rolled off the boat from Japan. With so little weight to carry around, our tiny tearaway was much easier on its rubber and mechanicals, so it should cost less to maintain in the long run.

Yet what really impresses is the fact that Suzuki’s Weight Watchers approach doesn’t come at the expense of creature comforts, quality and safety. I’ve already pointed out the executive car kit and robust build in previous reports, but the list of life-saving additions deserves special mention.

Most superminis make do with just four airbags, yet the Suzuki has seven, including a driver’s kneebag. You also get stability control, side impact beams and a passenger airbag cut-out switch.

A further safety boost comes from the xenon headlamps, which make light work of the dark autumn evenings. The reversing lamps are equally excellent. On most cars these are so dim you’d be better off parking by candlelight, but the Suzuki’s pair of bulbs is almost as bright as its headlamps.

In fact, the only thing I’m left in the dark about is the missing cover for one of the roof rack mounting points. The little piece of plastic disappeared a couple of weeks ago, during a late-night dash back from North Wales – a journey that allowed the Swift to demonstrate its remarkably relaxing cruising ability. Still, a quick call to Glyn Hopkin Suzuki in Watford, Herts, revealed a replacement would cost just £8.12.

Other than this glitch, the Swift continues to deliver fun, fast, cost-effective motoring. In fact, no matter what exotic models are lurking in the Auto Express car park, it’s the Suzuki I seek out whenever I’m in need of a little lift.

Our view

“The interior is a bit of a squeeze, but you forgive the Swift this flaw the moment you point its nose down your favourite B-road. I think it looks great in metallic red, too.”
Luke Madden, Deputy news editor

Your view

“The Swift looks very appealing, particularly with its £13,500 price tag. If I was downsizing, then I would be very tempted by this car.”
cousins11, via

Key specs

  • On fleet since: June 2012
  • Price new: £13,499
  • Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl, 134bhp
  • CO2/tax: 147g/km/£135
  • Options: None
  • Trade-in now: N/A
  • Insurance group/quote: 19/£404
  • Mileage/mpg: 6,098/38.8mpg
  • Costs: None so far
  • Any problems?: None so far