Suzuki Swift Sport: First report

A healthy dose of fun is on the menu as pocket rocket joins our fleet

To say I was keen to get my hands on our new Suzuki Swift Sport is a little bit of an understatement. From the moment we placed the order for the pocket rocket, I’d been counting down the days until its arrival.

With its impressive blend of eager performance, sharp handling and a great- value price, the Suzuki has the potential to be a real giantkiller in the hot hatch class. To top it off, it shares the same decent refinement and strong build quality that marked out its less racy Swift predecessors on the Auto Express fleet. So has it been worth the wait?

Well, it certainly looks the part. Finished in eye-catching Ablaze Red, the Swift attracted plenty of attention outside JEM Suzuki’s showroom in central London, where salesman Alec Sawney gave us a guided tour of the car.

First he pointed out the Swift’s gleaming paint finish was standard – metallic is an extra cost option on rivals – as are the 17-inch multi-spoke alloys and powerful xenon headlamps. Alec also highlighted the car’s keyless entry, climate control, Bluetooth, iPod connection and cruise control.

If you thought this lengthy equipment list would result in a hefty price tag, then think again. The Sport costs just £13,499, which means it undercuts rivals with much less standard kit.

Yet this brilliant showroom appeal would be for nothing if the Suzuki didn’t put a smile on your face when you climbed behind the wheel – and it doesn’t disappoint.

The 134bhp 1.6-litre engine still needs to be fully run in, but already it feels smooth and responsive, while the six-speed manual gearbox has a slick and precise action. But it’s the chassis that shines brightest.

The Sport features revised suspension components and uprated Monroe dampers, which result in acrobatic agility through a series of corners. Direct and well weighted steering, progressive brakes and superb body control complete the excellent dynamic package. Yet unlike the old car, this fizzy character doesn’t come at the expense of comfort and refinement.

The heavily bolstered seats are very supportive, a tall sixth gear helps keep the Sport relaxed on the motorway, while the ride is surprisingly supple. It’s not exactly executive-car quiet, but the cabin is a remarkably calm environment.

Sadly, it’s not perfect. The boot is extremely cramped and rear seat space isn’t a match for rivals such as the Ford Fiesta and Kia Rio. The Sport is further hobbled by a fixed rear bench – other versions get a split/fold arrangement. Still, the 211-litre load bay is big enough for my daughter’s pram, the ISOFIX mountings mean it’s easy to slot her car seat in and the standard privacy glass keeps the sun out of her eyes.

So it’s a positive start for the Suzuki. On this evidence, I’ll be as reluctant to hand the keys back as I was keen to get them in the first place.

Our view

“It’s refreshing for a maker to produce a car where the focus is so firmly on fun at a time when emissions and economy assume so much importance.”Graham Hope, Deputy editor

Your view

“It’s bold and sporty without being over the top, while the 134bhp engine should deliver reasonable running costs. Should be even more successful than the old car.”cousins11, via www.autoexpress.co.uk

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