I’ve never been a big fan of carrots, but ever since I was a boy I’ve forced them down at dinner because my mum said they would help me see in the dark. However, our Suzuki Swift Sport has enabled me to finally ditch Bugs Bunny’s favourite snack and end years of mealtime misery.
You see, included in the Swift’s long list of standard kit is a set of powerful high-intensity discharge headlamps, which are helping me to make light work of the long winter evenings. In fact, I reckon the set-up is better and brighter than those found on the expensive options list of pricier cars – tick the box for upgraded lights on a £14,900 MINI Cooper, and you’ll have to fork out an extra £485.
On dipped beam, the Suzuki’s lamps provide a usefully broad spread of light; select the main beam and you’ll be convinced that the sun has come back out. And although they’re not packaged with the hi-tech adaptive cornering function of some rivals, I never feel as though I’m missing out.
The extra-bright lights mean I can continue to enjoy the Sport’s sprightly performance and sparkling handling after dark. I’ve lost count of the number of fast cars I’ve driven that have been hobbled by ineffective headlamps that sap your confidence and leave you guessing which way the road goes.
So after nearly 8,000 miles, I still relish the opportunity to get behind the wheel of the Suzuki, day or night. The Swift’s list of standard kit may be bulging with hi-tech extras such as keyless entry, Bluetooth connectivity and cruise control, but the way it drives is simple and uncomplicated.
Unlike its rivals, the Suzuki doesn’t rely on a gimmicky Sport button or Drive Select system that artificially changes the steering weight and throttle response. Instead, Suzuki engineers have tuned the Sport’s controls to respond crisply and deliver natural feedback, whether you’re tootling around town or tearing down a twisty back road.
The electrically assisted steering is among the best in the business, while the six-speed gearbox has a quick and precise action. And despite the relatively narrow 195 section tyres, the lightweight Swift grips hard in corners.
Yet there’s more to everyday desirability than sharp driving dynamics. The remarkable refinement and surprisingly forgiving ride mean the Suzuki is just as comfortable tackling my 30-mile daily commute into Central London as it was pounding around the Anglesey circuit in North Wales at our Performance Car of the Year test.
As with any car, there are one or two niggles, but these are few and far between. For instance, only the driver’s side electric window gets one-shot lowering, while there are no stalk or wheel-mounted controls for the trip computer – to scroll through the various functions, you have to use the trip switch, which is awkwardly located below the speedometer on the instrument pack.
Yet I’m willing to forgive these minor flaws, especially as driving the Suzuki means carrots are no longer on the menu.
“You don’t expect a warmed-up supermini to be so comfortable. The supportive seats mean even long journeys can be completed in the Suzuki without aches and pains.”
Tom Phillips, Web reporter
“The Swift Sport is a cracking car that’s great value and very reliable. If it had a VW badge, it would sell by the shed load.”
Phil, via www.autoexpress.co.uk