Yes, it’s a cliche, but all good things really do have to come to an end. After nine months of undiluted driving fun, we’ve had to wave goodbye to our Suzuki Swift Sport.
With its bargain price tag, razor-sharp handling and effervescent performance, our metallic red pocket rocket proved that you didn’t have to spend big to enjoy driving thrills. Whether you were simply sauntering down to the shops or blasting down a twisty back road, the Swift never failed to raise a smile. Yet there was more to the hot Suzuki than an agile chassis and punchy engine.
For instance, it came with more standard kit than your average luxury limousine. Included in the impressive tally were climate control, keyless entry, Bluetooth connectivity, powerful High Intensity Discharge headlamps, cruise control and an iPod connection. Even the dazzling Ablaze Red paint was standard. All this for just £13,749.
Yet the Suzuki’s big car feel didn’t simply extend to its gadgets and gizmos. On a long run, the little hatchback was surprisingly refined, thanks to low wind noise, a tall sixth gear and a remarkably composed ride. And while the cramped 211-litre boot and strict two-seat rear bench hurt practicality, there was just about enough room to squeeze my young family in.
The Swift was also cost-effective to run for a hot hatch. Despite being driven enthusiastically, it returned a respectable 35.1mpg overall, while on longer journeys it was possible to coax nearly 45mpg out of the rasping 1.6-litre engine.
Even the maintenance costs were reasonable, with the first service only £149.99. The mechanical work was carried out efficiently by the courteous staff at JEM in Central London. They also collected and delivered the Suzuki from our offices. And while it was up on the ramps, I had the Swift kitted out with winter tyres.
Unfortunately, no company makes ultra-low-profile cold weather rubber for the Suzuki’s 17-inch wheels, so the racy multi-spoke alloys were ditched in favour of plain black 16-inch steelies. While some in the office thought the change of rims spoiled the car’s sporty lines, I loved its rugged new look. The set of wheels and tyres cost £676 – not cheap, but you do get peace of mind.
The Hankook tyres performed well, particularly in cold and wet conditions. And when the snow did fall, the Swift was able to tackle roads that even hardened SUV owners would baulk at. Yes, the Sport lost some of its precision and bite when conditions were dry, but that was a small price to pay for the extra peace of mind when temperatures plummeted.
But it didn’t matter what rubber the Swift was wearing, I always relished an opportunity to get behind the wheel. No other new car comes close to rivalling the Sport’s blend of acrobatic handling, grown-up driving dynamics and incredible value for money. And now it’s gone, I miss it every single day.
“The Swift Sport is a throwback to the days when driving fun was top of the agenda. But best of all, it delivers its thrills without excessive costs.”
Graham Hope, Deputy editor
“Swapped my MkV VW Golf GTI for a Swift and I haven’t stopped grinning yet! It’s good value for money and is an absolute hoot to drive.”
tuglet, via www.autoexpress.co.uk