Suzuki Swift

Suzuki’s Swift Sport reminds us of the pioneers of the supermini class. But is the hot hatch really a modern classic?

  • Sport trim: red stitching further enhances the leather wheel and gearstick. Rally-style seats hold you well through corners, too. Economy: the 1.6-litre engine isn’t too thirsty, making the Swift a viable ownership prospect – especially for young drivers.Euipment: Suzuki has blown the budget with the standard equipment tally: climate control, alloy wheels, a CD player and keyless start are all included.
  • Cubbies: there aren’t enough! It’s tricky to store anything of use in the narrow door pockets or the tight glovebox.Rear seats: while back bench is comfortable, it’s tricky to get to. The front seat lifting mechanism could be more straightforward.Back shelf: there are no straps on the parcel shelf, so you often close the tailgate only to find it’s still left in the upright position.

First times stick in the mind. First day at school, your first bike and your first love… Mine was a Mini – ready and waiting for me after I passed my driving test, fortunately at the first attempt.

Yet although I got very excited when BMW launched its version of that car, I reckon Suzuki’s Swift Sport comes the closest to replicating the driving experience of the original British baby. That’s why I’ve been in my element running KY06 BHR.

The Japanese firm clearly followed a back-to-basics approach with the hot hatch, which makes the Swift a great car to live with day-to-day. Its fantastic driving dynamics and handling means pretty much every journey is special.

Long drives are not the Suzuki’s strength, though. Road test editor Oliver Marriage wasn’t a fan when he had to take the Swift for an early start up the M40 recently; although the road was clear, the high revs made the cabin a noisy place to spend time in. However, it’s in town where the car has become a big favourite, nipping in and out of traffic, and sliding into even the tiniest of parking spaces.

I was also looking forward to getting it serviced, as the maker’s network was voted 10th out of 32 in our Driver Power 2007 dealer survey. I booked it into Dulwich Suzuki, south London, but no courtesy cars were available (ever!).

And when I came to pick it up – and pay nearly £200 for the check – the Swift was dirtier than when I left it. The car also needed a new tyre, which cost £95.45 and took three days to arrive. I’ll be trying a different garage next time.

Other than that, it’s proving economical to run, with an average of 31.9mpg – which is reasonable for a sporty hatchback that lives in town and likes to be driven hard.

The interior is standing up to daily use well, despite a squeaking front seat and a badly fitting rear bench (which was fixed under warranty). The rest of the cabin is in great condition after nearly 10,000 miles. So, come January, I wonder if I will be as sad to see this supermini go as I was my first Mini…

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